IITA strategically positioned to contribute to the One-CGIAR agenda in sub-Saharan Africa

3 February 2021

IITA embraced the One-CGIAR initiative in the past year because a unified CGIAR will be a more effective and impactful organization. Since then, the Institute has participated in the unfolding plans and is strategically positioned to contribute to the One-CGIAR agenda in sub-Saharan Africa. Significant developments have been taking place at IITA and  CGIAR, with bigger plans for 2021. 

Following discussions with the Directors General, the CGIAR Executive Management Team (EMT) formed Design Working Groups in December 2020 to provide input and advice on designing the new CGIAR operational model. The groups consist of a crosssection of Directors General and staff, covering the three functional areas of the new operational structure: Research and Delivery, Institutional Strategy and Systems, and Global Engagement and Innovation. 

Photo of Dr Nteranya Sangingaa
IITA Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga.

On 31 March 2021, the appointment of Global Directors under the three functional areas, Regional Directors, and country-level leads, will be made from among existing center Human Resources. The CGIAR EMT emphasized their confidence in the capabilities of the IITA HR team to fulfil these responsibilities on behalf of the One CGIAR, especially in Africa. The EMT is also considering leveraging on IITA’s facilities, HR, and partnerships in certain areas, to build on existing achievements toward a strong and respected One CGIAR for Africa and beyond. 

It would be prudent for the EMT and the System Board to leverage IITA in its leadership role for the Continent to benefit the One CGIAR. Building on IITA’s current standing with governments and investment banks, IITA can grow support for the One CGIAR operating in sub-Saharan Africa through its Regional and Country Alignment dimension. Also, IITA’s work cuts across the three science groups of the One CGIAR structure, including Genetic Innovation, Resilient Agri-food System, and Systems Transformation. Given IITA’s current staff numbers and available expertise, the many results obtained in agronomy, plant health, value addition, and its excellent relationships with the donor community investing in these research areas, the One CGIAR would benefit from IITA facilitating the Resilient Agri-food Systems Science Group. This is because the Science Group is strong at IITA and these capabilities can be deployed for integrated initiatives and bilateral projects to transform smallholder farming systems. 

In his brief, the DG also mentioned that since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, IITA has recorded 53 cases at its Nigeria station with no recorded deaths. Some cases have also been identified in Zambia and DRC and without fatalities. IITA continues to practice all the health measures recommended by the respective governments and the World Health OrganizationThe pandemic affected the financial health of IITA, which led the Institute to adopt a 2-pronged approach to manage the situationan aggressive resource mobilization drive, and a cost reduction exercise involving the reduction of staff salaries for seven months. The situation was judiciously managed within four months and the Institute resumed paying full salaries to its staff. 

Furthermore, resource mobilization with development banks and country loans was actively pursued, and positive results were achieved with the World Bank (WB), Africa Development Bank (AfDB), and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Due to this achievement, IITA has a gross revenue projected at $139 million for 2021. This is the largest budget in IITA history, with a surplus of $0.5 million. Another major development is that IITA just signed a significant project on Zero hunger with IFAD for Nigeria and Togo. A major project is expected from the World Bank for the Democratic Republic of Congo. Also, AfDB, IFAD, and IITA are working together on the African Heads of State summit on food security that will take place in the second quarter of 2021. 

According to IITA DG Nteranya Sanginga, if the operating results for 2020 are sufficiently positive, the management intends to reimburse staff one month’s salary from the 4 months deducted. “The operating results would only be known by mid-February, and if positive, the reimbursement will be implemented by the end of February,” Sanginga said.