In 2017, IITA celebrated 50 years of service to Africa and its smallholder farmers in particular. Since then, the Institute has advanced even further in its mission to transform African agriculture through collaboration with farmers and farming communities, youth and women in agribusiness, and other partner-stakeholders.
IITA’s 2019 Annual Report detailed this work and highlighted the delivery of research innovations on five impact areas:
- Nutrition and food security;
- Poverty reduction, livelihoods, and jobs;
- Gender equality, youth, and social inclusion;
- Climate adaptation and greenhouse gas reduction; and
- Environmental health and biodiversity.
IITA continues active participation in CGIAR Research Programs (CRP) and Platforms that align with its strategy to achieve this goal.
The biggest challenge in agriculture is to feed the growing human population, which is projected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 compared to 7.7 billion in 2019. Operating via its regional hubs and research stations across sub-Saharan Africa, IITA is keen to deliver research innovations even more efficiently through its Partnerships for Delivery (P4D) efforts.
In 2019, IITA added the Sahelian region of West Africa—one of the world’s most vulnerable regions—as a priority impact zone. The agriculture sector here is under strain due to many risks that are likely to deteriorate in the face of climate change.
Hence, IITA and partners are making contributions in the Sahel through collaborative projects to improve livelihoods, enhance food and nutrition security, increase employment, and ensure natural resource integrity.
“We believe that a better organized and more focused IITA can provide the food and agricultural research base and service and delivery partnerships necessary to ensure greater impact by complementing the ongoing efforts of African countries and their national undertakings,” said IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga.
As former president of Nigeria, and IITA Ambassador, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo noted at the 50th-anniversary celebrations, innovation is incomplete until the research products have gotten into the farmer’s hands.
“We must get whatever you produce out there to the farmers. And whatever it takes us to get your products to the farmers, I believe it’s worth it,” he said. He added that “getting the products to the farmers is almost as important as getting the products ready because the product that is not in the hands of the farmers is a wasted product.”
IITA’s commitment to the farmer and African agricultural transformation remains fresh, and the 2019 Annual Report contains multiple highlights showcasing this commitment. “We would like to express our appreciation to our various funders, collaborators, and partners who have been with us throughout this continuing journey of hope, faith, trust, and learning,” concluded DG Sanginga.