In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), rates of food insecurity and malnutrition are severe and growth in the agricultural and rural sectors is undermined by gender disparity and gender-related constraints, particularly in access to productive resources, inputs, knowledge, and markets. High levels of gender inequality have been associated with high levels of food insecurity.
Ensuring impact and delivery
Limited access to good quality seed of improved varieties by smallholder farmers is one of the constraints to the productivity of soybean in Malawi. The IITA-led Malawi Improved Seed Systems and Technologies (MISST) project, funded through USAID’s Feed-the-Future initiative, attempts to address this by promoting public–private sector partnership to develop pathways for soybean farmers to have better access to seed of improved varieties.
Mechanization reduces the drudgery usually associated with agricultural activities and increases efficiency on the farm. Since the early 1970s, IITA has been developing and promoting the use of agricultural machinery under various initiatives and projects with support from a myriad of donors, particularly for its cassava transformation agenda.
Grains in storage are destroyed within a few weeks by insect pests if they are left unprotected. Protecting harvested grains against insect pests has always been a priority but also a great challenge to farmers in Africa. The most common protection method used by farmers involves the application of chemicals. However, chemicals are often mishandled or the wrong chemicals are used, which endangers the health of both producers and consumers.
Since 2014, IITA has been implementing the “Integrated approach to improve the nutrition status of women and children under two years through nutrition-sensitive agriculture in Eastern Luapula, and northern provinces of Zambia.” It is a project supported by the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Fund, in collaboration with the Development Aid from People to People (DAPP).
The Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program - Phase 1 (ATASP-1) contributes to the agricultural transformation objectives of the Federal Government of Nigeria by addressing the constraints in rice, sorghum, and cassava value chains in the country’s four Staple Crop Processing Zones (SCPZs) of Adani–Omor, Bida–Badeggi, Kano–Jigawa, and Kebbi–Sokoto.
The IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) program has indeed come a long way since its inception four years ago, growing in number and activities and getting recognition along the way. The IYA was formally recognized as an IITA program in October 2016.
Many of the challenges we face today such as food insecurity and poverty require innovative and multidisciplinary approaches. The development, dissemination, and adoption of improved crop varieties provide a major pathway by which agricultural research can bring about gains in productivity, food security, and poverty reduction.
In 2016, IITA was instrumental in the development of the “Zero Hunger in Nigeria” Strategy – a document that outlines what the country needs to do to achieve hunger-free status by 2030, in line with one the United Nations Strategic Development Goals (SDGs). However, this gargantuan goal is easier said than done.
Agriculture in most developing countries is characterized by small-scale farming that relies heavily on the public, rather than the private, sector for its delivery. However, the complex challenges faced by smallholder farmers call for novel approaches to delivering available technologies in appropriate forms to enhance adoption.