IITA DR Congo
International Institute of Tropical Agricultural (IITA)
4163, avenue Haut-Congo
Commune de la Gombe
République Démocratique du Congo
Telephone numbers: +243 990 212 603, +243 814 765 596
Interesting places in DR Congo
IITA’s presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) was formalized in September 2008 when the DR Congo government signed a Headquarters’ Agreement (Accord de siège) with IITA.
However, IITA has been in today’s DR Congo for a long time, dating back to 1974, when the then Zaire Republic government requested IITA to assist in the control of cassava bacterial disease which was affecting cassava production. This led to the creation of the cassava national program (PRONAM: Programme National Manioc) within INERA (Institut pour l’Etude et la recherché Agronomiques). IITA staff were based at Mvuazi (Province Bas Congo) with activities in other INERA stations.
In the mid-1980s, with funding from USAID, IITA involvement evolved to cover other crops. The legumes program (PNL), the maize program (PNM), and PRONAM were combined into one project called “Recherche Agronomique et Vulgarisation” (RAV). This was later changed in the early 1990s to a national service within the Ministry of Agriculture as SENARAV. IITA staff were based in INERA stations at Mvuazi, Gandajika, and Kiyaka, in Lubumbashi for the INERA Kaniameshi station and at Kinshasa for the coordination office.
IITA was only absent from DR Congo during the particularly difficult and dangerous phase at the end of the 1990s and early 2000s. With the establishment of a government after Mobutu, the DR Congo realized its tremendous food shortage and the devastating effects of cassava mosaic disease on cassava production, the main staple in the country. DR Congo asked IITA to help with new and resistant germplasm to start new generations of cassava. This activity was funded by USAID and is today in an advanced third phase that covers germplasm improvement, agronomy, planting material multiplication, and improved processing technologies and commercialization at a country-wide level. The project has established offices in Kinshasa, Mvuazi, Kikwit (Province Bandundu), Kisangani (Province Orientale), Mulungu (Province Sud-Kivu), and Luputa/Gandajika (Province Kasai Oriental).
Because agriculture and agricultural research did not receive any considerable attention for around 15 years, DR Congo’s human and physical capacity to conduct agricultural research had dropped to an all-time low. The EU is currently funding an FAO-led project on the physical rehabilitation of research structures, within which IITA is conducting the agricultural component with focus on degree training of young researchers and on the job training of NARS staff.
IITA supports the planning and implementation of the physical rehabilitation in the area of laboratory facilities and scientific equipment for a wide range of agricultural research activities. The project has been given permission to set up eight modern meteorological stations, secure data collected in the past 50 years, and has launched a web site for the NARS (www.inera-rdc.org) to connect it to the rest of the R4D world.
The project is training 24 Congolese in various disciplines on all IITA mandate crops except yam. Activities are conducted in 12 sites across all of DR Congo and many students received training in other IITA stations outside DR Congo.
In the highland (> 900 m) Kivu provinces of Eastern DRC, banana-based cropping systems are dominant. Since 2006, IITA has been involved in research and development activities on these systems in the framework of the Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Central Africa (CIALCA). The CIALCA consortium (www.cialca.org) harbors projects led by IITA, CIAT-TSBF, and Bioversity.
The CIALCA project is primarily funded by the DGDC (Belgium) and brings together international and national research and development partners. CIALCA has an office in Bukavu to support these activities. Activities range from PhD and MSc research to training of development partners and farmer organizations. Interventions range from improved germplasm to improved production technologies (intercrops, IPM, soil quality) and postharvest processing and marketing.