By Jameson Spivack
The African Development Bank recently approved US$63.24 million for a multi-CGIAR Center project titled “Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa” (SARD-SC). The program, sponsored by CGIAR, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, is a five-year program expected to run until 2016.
CGIAR’S program is a research for development project aimed at raising the productivity level of four commodity crops in Africa. (Photo credit: IITA)
It will be coordinated by three specific CGIAR centers based in Africa, the Africa Rice Center, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, which is also acting as the Executive Agency. Specialized technical support will be provided by the International Food Policy Research Institute.
The project focuses on research, science, and technology development in order to raise the productivity levels of and income derived from cassava, maize, rice and wheat. These are four of the six commodity crops the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme has determined are strategically essential to the future of African agriculture.
The project comes at a time when the Regional Member Countries (RMCs) involved with the African Development Bank are especially concerned about the issues of food security and nutrition. In the face of rising food prices, creating a stable and adequate food supply is at the top many countries’ agendas. It is also the first time a single project has attempted to address food security in Africa on a continental scale.
The main goals of the project are to enhance food and nutrition security, and to reduce poverty levels. It will target individual farmers; consumers; farmers’ groups, primarily those composed of women and children; policy makers; private sector actors; marketers and traders; transporters; small-scale agriculture technology manufacturers; and other institutions. By examining food systems across the full value chain of each crop, the project aims to address both costs and employment opportunities. This approach also contributes to crop-livestock integration through the use of the commodities’ by-products.
The research-for-development approach being advocated by IITA has been tested in the past. The technologies, models, manpower, and knowledge necessary to implement its solutions are also already available through CGIAR Centers and national partners.
Are there specific examples of instances where research-for-development programs have been particularly successful? Comment below!
Jameson Spivack is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.
To read more about CGIAR see: Bridging the Gap in Climate Change Strategies: CGIAR Announces the Launch of the Adaptation and Mitigation Knowledge Network, Commission Aims to Produce Clear Course of Action on Sustainable Food System, and New International Commission to Respond to the Current Food Price Crisis.