IITA DG and Board Chair visit IFAD President to strengthen IFAD-IITA partnership
17 December 2019
The purpose of the meeting was to brief the IFAD President on IITA’s progress in scaling up technology and engaging youth in agribusiness with IFAD support and discuss future collaboration.
Since 1979, IFAD has provided 41 large grants to IITA for a total amount of USD 35.9 million, with four currently ongoing. Also, the total current fund amounts approximately to USD 7 million. However, there are three new projects in the pipeline with a budget of USD 9.5 million. These projects are aimed at broadening partnership between the two institutions and consolidating partnership for impact.
In recent past, IFAD and IITA has been collaborating on the development of agribusiness enterprises as well as building the capacity of poor unemployed youth in agriculture-based enterprises. Youth employment is a key aspect of IFAD’s inclusive rural transformation strategy. As a result, IFAD negotiated participation of IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) at the Family Farming Symposium hosted by FAO in 2018. The IITA Agripreneurs won the “International Innovation Award for Sustainable Food and Agriculture”.
Congratulating IITA Agripreneurs for their victory, IFAD President said that he is pleased to see the impact of IFAD’s early support to IITA to promote young Agripreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa. “This award recognizes IITA’s commitment to improving both agribusiness opportunities and creditworthiness of youth across Africa,” he said.
Being the only CGIAR Center with a presence in Central Africa and the Great Lakes Region, IITA has been a valuable partner to IFAD for NARS capacity building in the region. IFAD and IITA are broadening their partnership to include three areas of importance to IFAD, which are policy engagement; development and pilot testing rural youth employment models and supporting innovative youth and business hubs; and development of seed standards, systems and seed delivery for smallholder farmers.
However, to undertake specialized research considering context-specific and emerging challenges, IITA has established two centers of excellence, which are the Climate Change Center in Benin and the President Olusegun Obasanjo Research Campus in Kalambo, Bukavu.
The IFAD President encouraged that in the future, IITA should focus on the research areas that are within IFAD’s lending context, acknowledging that the three projects in the pipeline hold a lot of promise in delivering development impact when scaled up through IFAD funding. He also advised that IITA approach IFAD Country offices so that new technologies can be scaled up under IFAD Country programs.
IFAD invests in rural-poor populations by helping them expand their businesses and take charge of their own development, with the goal of improving food security and reducing poverty. In its projects, IFAD particularly seeks to address the cross-cutting topics of climate, gender, nutrition and youth. IFAD attaches a high importance to knowledge generation and sharing from grant investments.
IITA is one of the 15 CGIAR Centers conducting agricultural research to develop technologies that will reduce hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resources degradation. As an international financial institution and a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries, IFAD has been in a long-term partnership with IITA.