PROSAB: demonstrating the effectiveness of our R4D approach

Some members of a women farmers' group organized under PROSAB are all smiles, proud of what they have achieved under the project. Photo by Amare Tegbaru, IITA.
Some members of a women farmers' group organized under PROSAB are all smiles, proud of what they have achieved under the project. Photo by Amare Tegbaru, IITA.

The successes recorded by the five-year run of the “Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in Borno State” (PROSAB) project that we coordinated proved the effectiveness of our research-for-development (R4D) approach in tackling not only livelihoods and food security but also social empowerment and gender equality. PROSAB started in 2004 and ended this year.

Farmers in the project area who adopted the technologies and management practices espoused by the project experienced increased food availability and incomes. Considerable progress was also made in addressing the problems of declining soil fertility and Striga infestation.

Our socioeconomic analysis involving about 17,000 households, or more than 100,000 farmers, that participated in the project showed that poverty levels dropped by an average of 14 percent, while food security improved by 17 percent.

Farmers who participated in the project increased their average incomes by an average of 81 percent compared to what they were earning before PROSAB started. They attributed this mainly to the project’s interventions.

More importantly, the knock-on effect on other non-participating farmers in the region has been tremendous.

PROSAB seed producer Marcus Dawi Mbaye. He was able to put his four children through university from the income he earned from the various agro-projects under PROSAB. Photo by Amare Tegbaru, IITA.
PROSAB seed producer Marcus Dawi Mbaye. He was able to put his four children through university from the income he earned from the various agro-projects under PROSAB. Photo by Amare Tegbaru, IITA.

PROSAB introduced improved crop varieties, trained farmers on improved agronomic practices and promoted gender equality in agricultural development.

Apart from reducing poverty in households from 63 percent to 49 percent, the project also made significant inroads in enhancing women’s roles in agricultural activities.

Ruth Dasika Mshelia, a mother of five and a participant of the project, attested, “PROSAB has helped us freely interact with our male counterparts in development projects. We are not ashamed anymore,”

Borno state, where the project was centered, is predominantly Islamic, with social interaction between men and women largely restricted by religious norms.

Farmers, policy makers, nongovernment organizations, and other local partners hailed it as a major success story in northern Nigeria where climatic and cultural factors are major challenges to development.

Some local governments have signified interest in out-scaling PROSAB’s approach to other states. It has also been touted as a model that could be adopted in agriculture-based communities in other African countries.

The CA$ 7 million (about US$6.33 million) project was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency. Our implementing partners included the International Livestock Research Institute, Borno State Agricultural Development Program, Community Research for Empowerment and Development, the Institute of Agricultural Research – Zaria, and the University of Maiduguri.

STCP in the Cocoa Livelihoods Program

Cocoa seedlings ready for distribution to growers in a community nursery established by IITA/STCP. Photo by Richard Asare, IITA.
Cocoa seedlings ready for distribution to growers in a community nursery established by IITA/STCP. Photo by Richard Asare, IITA.

This year, our Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) was tapped to be part of a multi-sector consortium to implement the US$40 million, 5-year Cocoa Livelihoods Program (CLP). The CLP, managed by the World Cocoa Foundation, aims to improve the livelihoods of approximately 200,000 cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Liberia by addressing marketing and production inefficiencies, income diversification, and farming technology/innovations.

The program was first announced in February 2009. Activities began following intensive site selection that we led in consultation with public and private sector partners in the project countries. We would also be training cocoa farmers in production practices and quality management through innovative approaches such as Farmer Field School, Farmer-to-Farmer training, and Video Viewing Clubs.

We would develop and validates a new training approach that would help rehabilitate existing cocoa farms through the proper establishment of productive systems of high yielding, fertilizer-responsive varieties. We will also develop distribution systems for improved planting material in the five countries by facilitating the establishment of commercial and on-farm nurseries, and clonal budwood gardens for rehabilitation through grafting. These nurseries will serve as sources of high-yielding planting material for cocoa and other crops and trees.

To ensure that the nurseries are supplied with the best available cocoa, timber, plantain, and cassava planting materials, we would develop a community-level brokerage service that would link communities and commercial nurseries to various suppliers. We will also explore the Farmer Organization and the Business Service Center approaches to ensure the availability and accessibility of input supply for farmers.

We are currently conducting a market opportunity study in the five countries to analyze diversification opportunities in local, regional, and international markets using a common economic and financial analytical framework. The study covers cocoa, cassava, and plantain and their associated inputs, with other key country-specific commodities also to be considered. It would provide vital market information to reduce the risk of an income shock on the economies of these countries and its spillover impact on cocoa-growing communities.

We are also responsible for managing the Performance Monitoring Coordination Unit (PMCU) of the CLP. The PMCU coordinates the monitoring activities of the five technical partners to ensure consistency and accuracy of data collected. The PMCU will maintain a centralized information database, and provide data to partners as needed to promote informed decision-making within the program.

The CLP is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and 14 chocolate industry companies. Aside from IITA/STCP, the other four implementing partners include Agribusiness Services International – an ACDI/VOCA affiliate, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Société de coopération pour le développement international (SOCODEVI), and TechnoServe. The program has been launched in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, and is expected to be launched in Cameroon and Liberia soon.

Guiding farmers toward profitable, eco-friendly and sustainable cocoa production

Cocoa farmers breaking pods. Photo by Cynthia Prah, IITA.
Cocoa farmers breaking pods. Photo by Cynthia Prah, IITA.

Cocoa production North Face UK Outlet f   in West and Central Africa is generally low. Average yields are about 200-700kg per hectare. Surveys conducted by STCP show that as much as 40 percent of farmers in the region are at the losing  end of growing cocoa.

To enhance productivity, old and nonportlandhallhotel -productive farms need to be rehabilitated, or new cocoa farms established using best agronomic practices. In 2007, we conceived the idea of developing a comprehensive and compact manual on ecologically-friendly, profitable, and sustainable cocoa production practices that could be used to build the capacity of farmers.

In consultation with growers and cocoa experts from national and regional partner institutions across West Africa, we developed the Planting, Replanting and Diversification (PRD) Manual – a cocoa production training document that is based on mutual participatory learning between farmers and experts.

Cover page of the IITA/STCP PRD Manual. Image provided by Cynthia Prah, IITA.
Cover page of the IITA/STCP PRD Manual. Image provided by Cynthia Prah, IITA.

The PRD Manual is designed to help sharpen the skills and knowledge of farmers in carrying out best practices to rehabilitate old farms and/or start new ones. The manual uses the Farmer Learning Group approach, which is a structured, group-based learning methodology that that focuses on practical demonstrations, hands-on field exercises, and discussions to hone farmers’ skills.

To help farmers use the manual, we also developed an accompanying guidebook entitled Implementing Guide for Planting, Replanting and Tree Diversification in Cocoa Systems.

These resources are already being extensively used in farming communities in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Liberia. Hundreds of farmers in these countries have benefited from their use and the initial outcomes have been encouraging.

The manual and guide are expected to contribute towards the regeneration of cocoa farms across West Africa, and consequently improve the plight of farmers in the region. They are available online as downloadable PDFs from the STCP Web site.

Agricultural research uplifts lives

A yam trader happily showing off his ware. With appropriate agricultural infrastructure, input, and policy support, Africa can indeed feed itself. Photo by IITA.
A yam trader happily showing off his ware. With appropriate agricultural infrastructure, input, and policy support, Africa can indeed feed itself. Photo by IITA.

A study on the impact of agricultural research on productivity and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) that we completed this year has shown that agricultural research has a direct positive impact on poverty, reducing the number of poor people in the region by as much as 2.3 million annually.

According to the study, in view of the long-term research investments and demonstrated successes in SSA, our own R4D work is helping uplift the lives of about 500,000 to one million poor people in the region per year.

The study, authored by Arega Alene, Impact Assessment Economist, and Ousmane Coulibaly, Agricultural Economist, also estimated that the aggregate rate of return to agricultural research in the region runs as high as 55 percent.

However, the study cautions that the actual impacts are not large enough to offset the poverty-increasing effects of population growth and environmental degradation in the region.

The study, which has been published in the journal Food Policy, further demonstrated that doubling investments in agricultural R&D in SSA from the current US$650 million annually could reduce poverty in the region by two percentage points per year. However, the study adds that this projected drop in poverty would not be realized unless existing extension, credit, and input supply systems become more efficient.

The study also established that agricultural research had contributed significantly to productivity growth in SSA, with the highest payoffs noted in Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ethiopia. This is attributed to sustained investments in building national research capacity, long-term operations of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), North Face Jacket Sale UK and regional technology spillovers. Work by the CGIAR contributed about 56% of the total poverty reduction impact in the sub-region.

Despite the contributions of agricultural research, the study notes that SSA faces several unique constraints outside the research realm that hinder the realization of potential benefits. It singled out weak extension systems, lack of efficient credit and input supply systems, and poor infrastructure development. The study recommended that concerned entities undertake efforts to improveNorth Face Sale these systems and related infrastructure, and increase investments in agricultural research, to further reduce poverty in SSA.

Africa can feed itself

Gari for sale at a wholesale market in Ihugh, Benue state, Nigeria. Photo by IITA.
Gari for sale at a wholesale market in Ihugh, Benue state, Nigeria. Photo by IITA.

Even while nearly a quarter of the world’s one North Face UK Sale the more obvious stuff off billion-plus hungry are in Africa, the continent can easily meet its food and income needs with additional investments in agriculture, particularly in research and capacity-building. This was the general sentiment aired by agricultural experts gathered at a World Food Day 2009 forum that we organized in Lusaka, Zambia in October.

By investing in research and training, simple but effective technologies that already exist can be easily made available to African farmers to improve their productivity, which is currently very low compared to global average.

If the gap between potential and actual yields can be reduced using existing science, Africa’s production can increase three-fold. However, farmers must be able to generate wealth from the increased yields. This is not always the case as a lot of produce go to waste before and after harvesting.

In Africa, an increase in production usually results in a drop in prices, which consequently means lesser incomes for farmers. Produce must also be protected from pests and diseases and from losses during transportation and storage. Alternative markets are needed to prevent prices from spiraling down with increased production.

Other lessons floated during the forum included the need to develop mechanisms to help farmers cope with the lingering effects of the global financial and food crises, strengthening the agricultural research backbone of Africa, and creating an enabling environment for farmers.

Experts said research and training institutions must come together to produce a labor force that is knowledgeable and ready to face the challenges of climate change on agriculture, and quickly find and disseminate solutions. This becomes more apparent considering that over 60 percent of the continent’s population depends heavily on agriculture for their livelihoods, with 70 percent of this comprising subsistence agriculture. Most also depend on the rains, which makes agriculture even more uncertain because of climate change.

They were also in agreement that in order to increase agricultural productivity in Africa, farmers should also start increasing their farm inputs. To achieve this, farmers need a lot of motivation through an agriculture-friendly policy environment andportlandhallhotel water-Th i will tepid to rewarding support for improved access to feed, fertilizer, irrigation, and other inputs.

They supported the call for more investment in agricultural research and training to fight food insecurity and poverty in Africa. However, they emphasized that farmers need to actively participate in research to ensure that the technologies produced are appropriate and acceptable to them.

Developing dual-resistance cassava

Cassava root rot caused by CBSD. Photo by IITA.
Cassava root rot caused by CBSD. Photo by IITA.

This year, we moved closer to developing North Face Sale a few too mild properly and so forth!
cassava with dual resistance to Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) – the most devastating diseases of the crop in Eastern and Central Africa and the greatest threats to the food security and livelihoods of over 200 million people.

In Uganda, we selected eight clones with resistance to CMD and CBSD and other farmer-preferred traits. These clones, which are the first ones with dual resistance suitable to the mid-altitude areas of the Great Lakes regions, were sent to the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services for cleaning and multiplication in preparation for regional distribution to national partners. An additional 41 yellow-fleshed clones, also with dual resistance to CMD and CBSD, are undergoing advanced evaluation.

This is the fourth year of trials for dual-resistance cassava for mid-altitudes in Uganda. The trials are being conducted in Mukono and Namulonge, considered hot spots of CBSD and CMD in the country. The breeding work started with over 5000 true seeds of parents with tolerance to CBSD from Tanzania that were sent to Uganda for crossing with IITA varieties that are resistant to CMD.

Cassava grown from the Tanzanian seeds were repeatedly subjected to high disease pressure along with susceptible varieties for comparison. From each growing season, only 10 percent of the crop was selected for the next stage. After four growing seasons, the field has been narrowed down to eight very promising varieties.

Similar dual-resistance evaluation was carried out in Tanzania. Eight clones that have resistance to both CMD andeducate North Face Jacket Sale yourself on the way th much CBSD were deliberately subjected to the diseases by grafting them with infected plants. Five of these clones are being evaluated on-farm, while 11 clones with dual resistance and high starch content – a preferred trait by farmers – are also being evaluated.

Cassava that survives these tests, thereby producing a true dual-resistant variety, can then be used for further disease-resistance breeding in other countries in the Great Lakes region such as Rwanda, Kenya, and DR Congo. Throughout the selection process, farmers were actively engaged to ensure that the varieties meet their preferences such as cooking taste, texture, and yield.

A novel way to propagate yams

A rooted yam vine cutting, which would soon be ready for transplanting in the field. Photo by O Adebayo, IITA.
A rooted yam vine cutting, which would soon be ready for transplanting in the field. Photo by O Adebayo, IITA.

In the traditional method of growing yam, appearance dryfarmers set aside 25 to 30 percent of the harvested tubers as seeds for the next planting season. This makes the crop expensive to produce. It is also inefficient: the multiplication rate is only about 1:5-10, which pales in comparison, for instance, to cereals that have a propagation ratio of about 1:300.

To address these constraints, we developed an time her helps someone innovative yam propagation technique using vine cuttings. In this method, cuttings, usually one to two nodes with leaves are taken from the lateral branches of immature healthy-looking vines before tuber enlargement, and planted into soil with carbonized rice husks (CRH).

Once the cuttings formed roots and shoots, they are transplanted to nursery beds where they are nurtured for 150 days. During this time they will produce mini tubers, which are then used as the planting material for the next crop.

We are testing this novel technique in a number of farmers’ fields in Nigeria’s north central Niger state. The technology has been extensively featured in a number of broadcast and print media in Nigeria, Japan and the UK, and some countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.

By reducing the use of ware tubers as seeds, more yams are made available to farmers for food or for sale. The technique also promotes faster multiplication and better and more uniform crop quality by introducing a break in the cycle of nematode infestation often associated with regular use of field-grown tubers as planting material.

Another advantage of this technology is that the rooting medium, CRH, could be obtained by farmers cheaply, even for free.

Previously, we developed another propagation method together with the National Root Crops Research Institute of Nigeria based on mini-setts: yam tubers are cut up into 20-25 g pieces and used to produce planting material for ware tuber production.

Compared to using whole tubers, mini-setts enable faster multiplication and lesser amount of planting material needed. The use of vine cuttings further improves on this pace of multiplication and reduces the amount of need planting material even more. The technology could address the need for faster and wider distribution of disease-free improved varieties to meet rising demand.

The research is funded by the Japanese government, the Sasakawa Africa Association, Tokyo University of Agriculture, and the International Cooperation Center for Agricultural Education, Nagoya University, Japan.

2009 Financial information

finance-imageFunding overview

Funding for 2009 was US$52.202 million, of which 92.7% came from CGIAR investors and 7.3% from other sources. Expenditure was US$50.821 million (net of indirect costs recovery of US$5.535 million), of which 81.2% was used for program expenses and 18.8% for management and general expenses.

The governments and agencies that provided the largest share of our funding in 2008 and 2009 are shown in Figure 1 (top 10 donors). Our 2008 and 2009 expenditures by CGIAR system priorities and program portfolio are shown in Figures 2 and 3, respectively; while the performance indicators, as prescribed by CGIAR, are reflected in Figure 4.

Figure 1. Funding: top 10 donors, 2008 and 2009

Top 10 donors, 2008 and 2009

Figure 2. Expenditure by CGIAR System Priorities, 2008

Expenditure by CGIAR System Priorities, 2008

Expenditure by CGIAR System Priorities, 2009

Expenditure by CGIAR System Priorities, 2009

IITA Investors, 2008 and 2009

IITA Investors, 2008 and 2009

Figure 3. Expenditure by IITA Program Portfolio: 2008 and 2009

Expenditure by IITA Program, 2008 and 2009

Figure 4. Performance Indicators: Financial Health

Performance indicators: Financial Health 2009

Our Board of Trustees

IITA’s Board of Trustees (BoT) is made up of 14 members and is responsible for ratifying policies, procedures, and programs of the institute. The following are the current members of the BoT:

Bryan Harvey
Plant Sciences Department
University of Saskatchewan

Barbara Becker
Managing Director
North-South Centre

Director General

Hans Joehr
Corporate Head of Agriculture

Anne Kathrine Hvoslef-Eide
Assistant Professor
Applied Biotechnology
Norwegian University of Life Sciences

Cees Karssen
Plant Physiologist
The Netherlands

Dean Lewis
United States

Paul Mbe-Mpie Mafuka
Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques
Gestion des Ressources Naturelles
Democratic Republic of Congo

Henri Maraite
Unité de Phytopathologie
Faculté d’ingénierie biologique, agronomique et environnementale
Université catholique de Louvain

Birger Møeller
Professor of Plant Biochemistry
Danish National Research Institute

Otaki Oyigbenu
Permanent Secretary
Federal Ministry of Agriculure and Rural Development

Emmy Simmons
USAID (retired)
United States

Nthoana Tau-Mzamane
Walter Sisulu University
South Africa

Yo Tiémoko
Director General
Centre National de Recherche Agronomique
Côte d’Ivoire

Verishima Uza
Vice Chancellor
University of Agriculture

Beauveria bassiana: a golden opportunity for vegetable farmers

Adult of Plutella xylostella, commonly known as Diamondback moth. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Adult of Plutella xylostella, commonly known as Diamondback moth. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

One of the biggest threats to cabbage farming in West Africa is Plutella xylostella, commonly known as the Diamondback Moth (DBM). For years, DBM has been devastating both smallholder and commercial cabbage farms in the region, affecting incomes and market prices of the crop.

To address this, we developed and field tested a biopesticide based on the fungus Beauveria bassiana 5653 against DBM. Aside from effectively controlling DBM, cabbage yield in plots treated with Bba5653 was almost three times higher compared to plots treated with the insecticide bifenthrin or to untreated plots.

Songhai Center—a Private Voluntary Organization for training, production, research and development of sustainable agricultural practices—have been involved in the testing and highly recommends the product.

Bba5653 can control DBM on cabbage and its cousin kale, regarded as high-value cash crops. Compared to other vegetables such as carrot and lettuce, farmers say returns are higher with cabbage cultivation.

Cabbage damaged by DBM. Photo by Ignace Godonou, IITA.
Cabbage damaged by DBM. Photo by Ignace Godonou, IITA.

For the past few years, thousands of farmers in West Africa had to abandon cabbage production because of DBM. Consequently, market prices for African cabbage have jumped because of dwindling supplies.

The high costs of synthetic pesticides do not help either. The most common chemical pesticides—bifenthrin and deltamethrin—require about 19 applications within three months prior to harvest. The expense is prohibitive for most farmers.

Farmers, like Louis Awandjinou who has been cultivating the crop since 1986, have also observed that the chemical pesticides have been less and less effective against DBM over the years.

Alternatively, farmers have been using botanical pesticides, mostly extracts from the seed of the neem tree, against DBM and a wide range of other arthropod pests, but the approach has had limited success.

Used in integrated pest management, B. bassiana­-based biopesticide offers a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution to DBM. The fungus has a narrow range of target pests and persists in the environment with the ability to remain active for several months after initial application, B. bassiana could end the frequent application, high costs, and risks associated with the use of chemical pesticides. It could also preserve beneficial insects, and, by extension, biodiversity.