The Director of the Development and Delivery Office of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Alfred Dixon, has called for multiple linkages and collaborations for the dissemination of agricultural research outcomes.
He made the call recently while presenting his contract review seminar titled “Scaling up and scaling out of agricultural innovations at IITA – Duo for systemic change”
Dr. Dixon stressed that the churning out of innovations to boost agricultural productivity must be supported by strategic partnerships and collaborations for the farmers and the target population to feel the impact.
He explained that while “scaling out” entails linking with the private sector, the farmers and the markets; “scaling up” involves working with the governments and policy makers. He maintained that the role of the government was to create the right policy environment for the adoption of the new technologies by farmers and other stakeholders.
According to Dr. Dixon, IITA cassava projects have been able to reach millions of farmers because of the linkages made with several stakeholders including government agencies.
He gave an example of the advocacy role that former President Olusegun Obasanjo is playing in cassava transformation and also cited how the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) is disseminating its research outcomes using strategic partnerships in addition to technologies like the Akilimo application, the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management & Best Planting Practices videos, radio programs, Viamo’s 3-2-1-service, Cassava Matters website and many more.
Dr. Dixon pointed out: “Just having agricultural productivity or increase in agricultural production will not necessarily lead to increase in income for farmers unless it is linked to the markets… You still need the policy environment… You need the private sector, that is, the processors, the agro-dealers, the famers… And you also need the government to give you the right policies and the powerful backing.”
The renowned cassava breeder further observed that, Africa’s increasing population growth rate poses a huge challenge as agricultural productivity growth rate lag behind. He stressed that with Nigeria’s population expected to hit 400 million by the year 2050, there is need to double agricultural productivity.
Just having agricultural productivity or increase in agricultural production will not necessarily lead to increase in income for farmers unless it is linked to the markets – Dixon
“We are making progress but our productivity is still low,” he worried. “Our population growth keeps increasing. Therefore, we must increase productivity far more than the rate we are doing now to achieve food security.”
He advocated for stronger ties between IITA’s Research for Development (R4D) and Partnerships for Development (P4D), emphasizing, “both are needed to contribute to sustained agricultural transformation for scaling up and scaling out of agricultural innovations.”
“We need R4D to do the science, and P4D to do the scaling. All of them must work together to link up with policymakers, that is, the government…We must link up with the national agricultural research systems (NARS)… We need to link up with the private sector for the scaling out and to the development investors for scaling up because we need the resources to work.”
He concluded by reiterating the need for future projects to consider sustainability and exit strategies before project design and implementation of activities.