RISING out of poverty in Tanzania

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The USAID-funded and IITA-led program Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation (Africa RISING) is creating opportunities for smallholder farm households to move out of hunger and poverty through sustainably intensified farming systems that improve food, nutrition, and income security, particularly for women and children. This research-for-development project is currently being implemented in Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Ghana, and … Read More

Of grains and gains: Realizing the potential of soybean in Mozambique

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There is a lot going for soybean (or ‘soya’) in Mozambique. Although a relative newcomer to the country, the crop offers vast income opportunities for smallholder farmers particularly those in the high rainfall areas such as Zambezia, Lichinga, Nampula, Manica, and Tete provinces. Production and prices are improving. Back in 2004, soya production was estimated at 770-880 t with an … Read More

Building stronger cocoa farmer groups through ICT

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  Cocoa (Theobroma cacao L)—the main ingredient of that delectable global favorite chocolate—has been the backbone of the economies of the four West Africa countries, Côte D’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana, and Nigeria, which together account for about 70% of the world’s total cocoa production. This top production position comes at a steep environmental price to these countries as the main mode … Read More

Benefits and impact of drought-tolerant maize varieties in Nigeria

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The Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project was initiated with the aim of developing drought-tolerant maize varieties (DTMVs) with a potential yield of 1 t/ha under moderate drought conditions, increasing productivity under farmers’ conditions by 20-30%, and producing grain with an annual average value of $160-200 million in drought-affected areas. The project was funded by the Bill & Melinda … Read More

Taking the genetic superhighway in crop breeding

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Genetic improvement is considered the major contributor to crop productivity. Advances in biotechnology, such as the availability of whole genome sequences, high throughput genotyping and phenotyping tools, as well as data management, and analytical services, enable breeders to better understand the genetic basis of agriculturally important traits in crops and predict the breeding values of individual plants or lines in … Read More

Streamlining the release of improved maize and cowpea varieties in Africa

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A good crop of maize. Photo by IITA. The benefits of improved varieties generated by research are realized only when these varieties are actually used and grown by farmers—the intended beneficiaries. However, the path from research farms to farmers’ fields is not as simple and straightforward as it may seem. Although the processes for approval and release of new varieties ... Read More

Genetically fortifying banana, enset, cassava, and yam against pests and diseases

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Genetic engineering is one of the key techniques for improving crops particularly those that are vegetatively propagated or not amenable to conventional breeding. At IITA, the technique is being used for the improvement of crops that are economically important to Africa, such as banana and plantain (Musa sp.), cassava (Manihot esculenta), and yam (Dioscorea sp.). Genetic transformation platform for banana … Read More

Bringing IITA research results into the open

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For many years, one of the most common criticisms levied against international agricultural research centers is that many of its intellectual products are usually relegated to the proverbial ‘shelf’ once a research project is completed and the required reports have been submitted to funders. Such a practice has deprived intended beneficiaries— resource-poor smallholder farmers—the opportunity to better their lot through … Read More

Innovations in big data

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Modern advancements in Internet data, computer hardware and software, global standards, online collaboration platforms, and mobile technologies now allow the easy integration of various data management processes that were previously strictly separated. In agricultural research, these advancements have revolutionized how information is captured, pre-processed, automated, analyzed, and accessed by multiple users in different locations at near real-time. This has accelerated … Read More

Towards a gender-equal IITA

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A strong point of the IITA 2012–2020 Refreshed Strategy is its emphasis on promoting gender equality across the institute, specifically stating that “gender equity is to be ensured in all areas of operation”. This means that a gender perspective is to be integrated into every aspect of the formulation, development, and implementation of IITA policies, initiatives, projects, and activities. This … Read More