Catholic Relief Services (CRS)International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA)Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
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As an international entity operating under the aegis of the CGIAR, IITA’s mission is to enhance food security, income and well-being of resource poor people in the humid and sub-humid tropics of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by conducting research and related activities to increase agricultural production, improve food systems, and sustainably manage natural resources, in partnership with national, regional and international stakeholders. IITA’s research for development (R4D) agenda addresses crop improvement, plant health, market and policy analysis, and integrated natural resource management within a food-systems framework. Programs are targeted at the identified needs of four major agro-ecological zones: the dry savanna, the moist savanna, the humid forests, and the mid-altitude savanna. Research focuses on smallholder cropping and post-harvest systems on cassava, cowpea, maize, plantain and banana, soybean, and yam.

IITA Institutional Capacity
IITA employs over 100 internationally recruited technical and management staff located in West Africa (Nigeria, Benin Republic, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire), East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania) and southern Africa (Malawi, Mozambique) who are available to contribute to and support the project whenever required. IITA has a long record of managing small, medium-size and mega projects with funding amounts up to US$ 17 million.

With regard to all administrative aspects of project management, the Contract and Grant Office (CGO) is responsible for all administrative matters from project start-up to close-out, which is properly done in accordance with the guidelines of the respective donor agency (e.g. final reporting, inventory, disposal plan for assets, audit etc.). A project management database contains all relevant documentation on projects, the respective contractual requirements (e.g. reporting, auditing) as well as budgetary information. Our Budget and Finance (B & F) Unit financially administers all projects in accordance with international standards. Our financial system, which includes procurement, is regularly audited and an annual audit report published in March every year.

IITA partnership experience
IITA’s most important partners are of course the national partners (NARS), which are included in almost all IITA projects. We collaborate with NARS from 22 countries in about 90 projects. Annually, a funding amount of approximately 5.5m million USD is transferred to NARS partners in order to strengthen their ability to contribute to development in SSA. Besides NARS, IITA also involves international and national NGOs in its projects in order to re-enforce the civil society. In the past 5 years, IITA has collaborated with over 50 NGOs and CBOs and maintains a database of all NGOs that might be relevant for cooperation in future. Though it is IITA’s intention to re-enforce the civil society, we recognize the fact that for sustainability reasons, also governmental structures and national extension systems need to be integrated in our activities. IITA presently manages WECAMAN and WASNET (CORAF), EARRNET and FOODNET (ASARECA) and SARRNET (SADC-FANR). Though initial membership consisted of NARES and IITA, the institute has been promoting multi-stakeholder (NARES, NGOs, farmers and farmer organizations, private sector agricultural input suppliers, agro-processors, traders, consolidators, transporters, packers, etc) participation. In promoting multi-stakeholder participatory R4D, IITA has adopted the participatory research and extension approach in which stakeholders and IITA scientists work together and learn from each other throughout the whole R4D process. All on-farm production and post production trials are designed, prioritized and conducted with the participation of relevant stakeholders and based on their respective comparative advantage, specific roles are apportioned.

Experience with BXM management
Addressing BXW is first among priorities within the IITA banana research program in East and Southern Africa. IITA is leading local and international efforts to develop diagnostic tools for the BXW pathogen. IITA is involved in regional BXW surveillance and backstopping NARS to determine presence and spread of disease. IITA is involved in raising awareness on the presence and spread of BXW and training on preventive and management measures. IITA is at the forefront of research on banana cultivars resistant to BXW. In 2003 IITA with support from NARO initiated the first and so far only large scale germplasm screening trial located in Mukono district, central Uganda. Research is being carried on ways to destroy plants in fields invaded by bacteria so as to minimize debris that keep inoculum for extended periods. In addition IITA is validating planting technologies to enable suckers escape infection by bacteria left in soil as previous infected crops rot. To ensure farmers have access to affordable healthy planting suckers IITA is promoting a macro propagation technology which can be easily adapted to community level to rapidly produce banana suckers at low cost. Entomologists at IITA have been studying insect vectors of the BXW pathogen, seeking to identify approaches for vector management as part of IPM. IITA in collaboration with NARO is pioneering research on development of transgenic banana with resistance to BXW.

Experience with CMD:
IITA has provided strategic continent-wide support for cassava research for development in Africa since its inception in 1967. Its work in East and Southern Africa was significantly strengthened, however, following the establishment of a regional base in 1993 in Uganda. IITA currently works through a decentralized system, and the Institute has staff working on cassava based in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. A holistic approach to the development of the crop is being taken, ranging from work to improve production, including breeding, IPM and agronomy, through to the postharvest issues of processing and marketing. In order to achieve this, IITA scientists engage with a broad range of stakeholders, including national research and extension systems, NGOs, the private sector and farmers. IITA’s cassava team has provided regional leadership in all aspects of cassava development in East and Central Africa. Most importantly, IITA and EARRNET have introduced tens of thousands of cassava clones to the region from the continental breeding program in Nigeria, and have subsequently played a leading role both in identifying which are most suitable for each of the major agro-ecological zones in the region, and in transferring elite germplasm to all countries through an open quarantine system. IITA and EARRNET have coordinated the regional response to the cassava mosaic disease pandemic and have played a central role in raising awareness about the importance of the problem. IITA and EARRNET have run a regional OFDA-supported program to address the CMD pandemic since 1998. Postharvest development and marketing have become increasingly important areas of work. In addition to coordinating FOODNET and working closely with EARRNET on postharvest issues, IITA is also involved in a number of other major processing and marketing projects at the regional level. IITA increasingly sees NGOs such as CRS, as key partners as it seeks to realize its research for development goals. The proposed C3P Famine Fund Project provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen these linkages. It is anticipated that this strengthened partnership will lead directly to an increased number of cassava producers and consumers benefiting from IITA’s research for development outputs throughout the targeted region.
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