What we do

Our research-for-development platform

Our mission is to enhance food security and improve livelihoods in Africa through research for development (R4D).
We use the R4D model in setting a research course that addresses major development problems in Africa rather than simply contributing to scientific knowledge. It has proven to be an effective mechanism for agricultural research development. We and our partners have delivered about 70% of the international research impact in sun-Saharan Africa in the last three decades.

The R4D model is unique in that

  1. It focuses on long-term development needs to guide our research design and choice of partners
  2. It incorporates two critical elements absent in traditional models: a mid-process initial research outcome and an explicit EXIT strategy for IITA.

R4D model



  • Development needs: Identifies societal, producer, and consumer needs that require addressing. Guarantees research relevance.
  • Research: Specifies research problems that can be addressed by IITA with advanced research institutes and national partners. The design demands envisioning the potential impact.
  • Research impact: Defines scalable research outcomes and any advocacy activities required. A successful outcome entices partners to adoption.
  • Exit: Once the outcome is embraced by national/regional partners, IITA exits implementation and changes role to monitoring the research outcomes in the subsequent stages of development outputs and outcomes.
  • Success/Development impact: Ex-post evaluations are carried out and compared to baseline information to measure the impact on the ultimate beneficiaries.
  • Further work: Development impact creates new challenges which are referred back to development needs.

Innovative partnerships
In response to specific development needs, we work with research and development partners (research, development and extension actors, farmer organizations, NGOs, the private sector, and governments) to deliver research outputs that are achieving an initial outcome. We then use this research outcome to excite and attract more partners who will ultimately take charge of the upscaling and outscaling of the technologies by broadening participation and increasing the chances of success and ultimate development impact.

In particular, we are committed to forging closer links with ARIs, NARES, and the private sector that are eager to contribute to high-quality R4D, commercialization, and market development activities in technical assistance (TA).

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