The year 2019 was a transition year for IITA. For one, CGIAR started its journey in earnest as it transitions into One CGIAR. It looked at how the system can ensure the successful implementation of its research portfolio, how it can achieve improved and stable funding, and the development of an exciting new portfolio that would keep CGIAR’s focus on big programmatic efforts to drive impact.
IITA strongly supports the One CGIAR system. This transition has allowed us to review and assess our internal capacities and resources. 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.
Second, the ongoing CGIAR reforms necessitated that IITA position itself as a strong African center for delivery in support of agricultural transformation. As the first link in a network of international agricultural organizations in the region, IITA has been driving the agricultural transformation of Africa since its establishment in 1967.
IITA has therefore sought to better align its research-for-development, service, and delivery programs, and downstream institutional arrangements around strategies designed to have an impact on CGIAR’s priority outcomes. To do this, IITA is working on transitioning into an institution that consolidates the efforts of CGIAR in Africa with programs that are efficient, relevant, and responsive to the needs of the Continent.
IITA’s broad system-based agenda, its presence across the region, its focus on major mandate food crops of Africa, its improved framework on partnership and delivery of research innovations, its current successes, including the initiation of a delivery component of its research products through the Business Incubation Platform (BIP), fostering agribusiness opportunities and other agricultural development initiatives involving the African youth in agribusiness, and its good relations with various research and development partners—all these make IITA the CGIAR gateway for research and delivery in Africa.
We are also further expanding and strengthening our four hubs and establishing another one in the Sahelian region of West Africa, one of the most vulnerable regions of the world.
This year’s annual report highlights some of our successes and impact stories on scaling out innovations, from establishing a gene-editing system for important African food crops such as banana and yam with resistance to major pests and diseases, to using digital delivery tools to ensure that our innovations reach farmers and other stakeholders, to commercializing a technology such as Aflasafe to minimize aflatoxin contamination and deliver safe food for Africans through creative partnerships with the private sector and youth groups, to further expanding the youth-in-agribusiness movement through a new program that introduces agribusiness to school children and changes their mindsets about agriculture.