Agric Research: IITA calls for bespoke strategies on dissemination of innovation

For effective dissemination of agriculture research outcomes, there is a need for the intertwining of multiple linkages and collaborations across all agricultural value chains. This is according to Dr. Alfred Dixon, the Director of the Development and Delivery Office of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Popularly dubbed the “Father of Cassava”, Dixon emphasized the need for strategic partnerships to support the influx of innovation in order to bolster agriculture productivity. This, he pointed, will enable farmers to meet the target of feeding the population.

The IITA Director who made the charge while presenting his contract review seminar titled, “Scaling up and scaling out of agricultural innovations at IITA – Duo for systemic change”, stressed that while “scaling out” entails linking with the private sector, the farmers and the markets, “scaling up” involves working with governments and policymakers.”

Citing the need for the government to create the right policy environment for the adoption of the new technologies by farmers and other stakeholders, Dixon said: “Just having agriculture productivity or increase in agricultural production will not necessarily lead to an increase in income for farmers unless it is linked to the markets. When you have all that, you still need the policy environment. You need the private sector that is, the processors, the agro-dealers, the farmers. And you also need the government to give you the right policies and the powerful backing.”

Dixon, who also doubles as the Project Leader of the Cassava Weed Management Project (CWMP), which now operates under the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI), said that the IITA cassava projects have been able to reach millions of farmers because of the linkages made with several stakeholders, including government agencies.

He also stated that ACAI is disseminating its research outcomes using strategic partnerships in addition to technologies like the Akilimo application, the Six Steps to Cassava Management Videos, radio programs, Viamo’s 321-service, Cassava Matters website and many more.

On scaling up innovations, Dixon called for an increase working relationship between Research for Development (R4D) and Partnerships for Development (P4D), adding that “both contribute to sustaining agricultural transformation for scaling up and scaling out of agricultural innovations.”

His words: “We need R4D to do the science, P4D to do the scaling. We have multidisciplinary teams. All of them have to work together to link to the policymakers, that is the government, for the scaling up. We have to link to the NARS also for scaling up. We need to link to the private sector for the scaling out and also to the development investors for scaling up because we need the resources to work.”

Dixon, however, advised that future projects must consider sustainability and exit strategies before project design and implementation activities.


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