It is my pleasure to present to you the IITA Annual Report for 2014.
Aptly themed Moving Forward, this report highlights our research-for-development and innovative partnership efforts for 2014 which bring us closer to our goal of lifting 25 percent of African households above the poverty line. We are moving forward to achieving this goal by continuously increasing average farm income, buoyed by the continuing support of our partners and donors and enforced by the steady commitment and hard work of our staff.
This year saw IITA make significant scientific strides in the areas of biotechnology, genetic engineering, agribusiness, climate change research, and natural resource management. In this report, we highlight our breakthroughs in genetic engineering of banana, to make it resistant to Xanthomonas Wilt. As millions of Africans depend on banana for food and income, we are endeavouring to build up their defences to withstand biological and non-biological stresses by improving the crop at the genetic level and complementing this research with conventional breeding efforts. We are also about to deepen our understanding of farm management solutions and foster the further improvement of best practices for plant health.
Through various entrepreneurial initiatives, our Youth Agripreneurs Program has shown that agriculture is a viable business option, particularly for young Africans. Similarly, our Business Incubation Platform and its units – GoSeed, NoduMax, Aflasafe – also the IITA Forest – have successfully demonstrated that research could be transformed into ventures that not only generate income but also protect African crops and their environment, improve yields and can be integrated into new ways of looking at sustainable intensification.
“The year 2014 has been a productive and successful year for IITA, and we are well on track.”
In 2014, the CGIAR Research Program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics (Humidtropics), which IITA leads, made positive strides towards fulfilling its commitment to create impact on farm families in tackling poverty, hunger, and environmental degradation. This work was done through two principal channels: strengthening the systems research dimension in various research activities of the CGIAR and other core partners; and establishing a number of projects in integrated systems research in various action sites.
Another important aspect of our R4D initiatives this year has been to further understand the effects of climate change on Africa’s agriculture and to develop technology-based interventions to help farmers cope. We have also put a lot of effort in advocating for an enabling policy environment that would support and sustain climate change adaptation strategies for smallholder farmers.
The soil is the farmer’s lifeline. A pillar of our research work is anchored in protecting and improving this vital agricultural asset, highlighted by our COMPRO and N2Africa projects which we feature in this report.
And of course, we continued to invest in building the capacities of farmers, students, and other researchers from our national and regional partners in West, Central, East, and Southern Africa. We also forged new ties with a number of private and public sector partners across sub-Saharan Africa.
The year 2014 has been a productive and successful year for IITA, and we are well on track. I am counting on your continuing support – our partners, donors, supporters, and staff – to make the coming years even more productive and successful.
Together, let’s move forward!