New Initiative to Transform Agriculture in Africa Launched


Crusoe Osagie
More than 200 research and development partners and experts, last week, met at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan to unveil an initiative that will transform agriculture on the continent and ensure that Africa is able to feed itself through agriculture.

Discussions at the three-day workshop were on a new initiative known as “Africa Feeding Africa” or the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme.

According to the organisers, the major goal of the TAAT Programme is to eliminate extreme poverty, end hunger and malnutrition, achieve food sufficiency, and turn Africa into a net food exporter as well as set Africa in line with global commodity and agricultural value chains.

It also plans to adopt modernised, commercial agriculture as the key to transforming Africa and the livelihoods of its people, particularly the rural poor.

To carry out these objectives, the African Development Bank (AfDB), working with IITA and other partners, has identified eight priority agricultural value chains relating to rice sufficiency, cassava intensification, Sahelian food security, savannas as breadbaskets, restoring tree plantations, expanding horticulture, increasing wheat production, and expanded fish farming.

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the CGIAR Consortium and 12 of its 15 international agricultural centres active in Africa support this initiative by the Bank and the co-sponsors to revitalise and transform agriculture through the TAAT programme within the shortest possible time while restoring degraded land and maintaining or strengthening the ecosystems that underpin agriculture. The workshop was organised by IITA in partnership with the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-SC) project for the African Development Bank, which is funding this mega initiative.

The identification and preparation workshop is a preliminary step to establishing and operationalising the programm. The workshop is a response to the Action Plan for Agricultural Transformation in Africa resulting from the AfDB-led high-level conference held in Dakar, Senegal, in October 2015. The major objective is to execute a bold plan to achieve rapid agricultural transformation across Africa and raise agricultural productivity.

This initiative was led by IITA, FARA, CGIAR, national agricultural research systems, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). This will involve close partnerships among AfDB, the World Bank, and major development partners to ensure increased funding for agricultural research and development along the value chains in Africa. CGIAR, FARA, AVRDC – The World Vegetable Centre, Africa Harvest, and other partners provide the technical and developmental support for the bank’s quest of widespread agricultural transformation.

“IITA supports AfDB and partners in ensuring that TAAT is effectively set up,” said IITA Director General, Nteranya Sanginga.

“The whole CGIAR system is backing this huge initiative with its research infrastructure in collaboration with FARA, AGRA, Africa Harvest, and the national partners. Everybody wants to ensure that this initiative succeeds.”
To date, about 22 African countries have been identified as potential partners with the CGIAR centres in the planning, content, and evaluation of investments in agricultural transformation. This workshop gives an opportunity for more Regional Membership Countries (RMCs) of AfDB to join in this effort.