Director General International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nteranya Sanginga, yesterday, disclosed that over 7, 214,803 million people have been lifted out of poverty, which represents about 62.2 per cent of the target of 11.6 million persons to be lifted out of poverty in the refreshed IITA Strategy 2012-2020.
Addressing the media in Ibadan on his stewardship in the last 10 years, the outgoing DG, IITA, said with the achievements of the Institute, the onus now lies on African governments to invest substantially in modernised and technology-based agriculture that could impact on the quality of life, health of farm families and pave the way for a transformative change of the continent.
Sanginga said if IITA as an institute could achieve such feat, how much more if governments on the continent, especially in countries like Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and others, adding that it would lead to the development of agricultural institutions and building of capabilities of young scientists in Africa.
He said the institute, under his leadership, had built up the cadre of scientists and also partner national programmes, expanded the research infrastructure with laboratories and field facilities now being used by about 200 research-for-development programmes and for capacity development of partners in the DR Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zambia.
He added that the institute under his watch has effectively led research and development initiatives on many fronts, notably crop improvement research, natural resource management, plant health, agribusiness, youth engagement in agriculture, women empowerment, technology commercialisation, systems research and integration, nutritional enhancement, value addition, innovative partnerships, and institutional platforms.
While appealing to African leaders not to take the issue of agriculture with levity, Sanginga said IITA’s experiment in Africa had shown that agriculture could be successfully used to reduce poverty in sub-Saharan Africa
According to him, “IITA’s research efforts are now showing impact at both the farm and community levels. Recent results from impact assessment studies across several countries revealed that at least 4.3 million people had been lifted out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa as of 2016 through the adoption of improved agricultural technologies developed by the institute and its partners.”
He noted that two studies conducted in 2016 in Nigeria on the impact of adoption of improved cowpea varieties and drought tolerant maize varieties (DTMV), showed that the two technologies had contributed to getting an estimated three and a half million people out of poverty in Africa’s most populous country.
According to him, “The study ‘impact of adoption of cowpea germplasm on poverty reduction in Kano State, Nigeria’ used DNA tests to link the improved cowpea varieties being cultivated by farmers to the IITA collection at its genebank in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
“By 2012, 58 per cent of cowpea farmlands was cultivated to improved varieties with yield gains of 254 per cent over local varieties.
“The study found that 884,241 people had been lifted out of poverty cumulatively between 1980 and 2015. It also established that the nutritional status of children below five years was higher among those who had adopted the technologies compared to the non-adopters.”
He also disclosed that the adoption of drought tolerant maize introduced in Nigeria 10 years ago, had removed from poverty 2,668,000 people according to the study ‘Impact of adoption of DTMV on poverty reduction in Nigeria’, while he said other studies conducted in 2015 included a baseline study of the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) and an impact study of the Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Central Africa (CIALCA), which according to him, collectively showed further that over 750,000 people were lifted out of poverty in association with IITA technologies.
“The SARD-SC baseline looked at the adoption of improved cassava varieties introduced by IITA and partners in Zambia, DR Congo, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone. It established that 194,469 farmers were lifted out of poverty from growing the new high-yielding varieties. Further disaggregation of the results by gender showed that more female-headed households had moved out of poverty than male-headed households,” he said.
He also said the CIALCA initiative contributed to lifting 559,810 people in Burundi, eastern DR Congo and Rwanda out of poverty, saying, “The initiative has widely tested and disseminated a range of innovative technologies increase the productivity and resilience to climate change-of legume-based farming systems in the three countries to improve the food security, nutrition, and livelihoods of the farming communities.”
He noted that in Uganda, results from an impact study of improved cassava varieties that was conducted in 12 districts in the Eastern, Northern and Mid-Western Uganda in 2015 showed that an estimated 417,091 individuals belong to households that have adopted one or more improved cassava varieties. The results from a rigorous econometric analysis showed that had it not been for adoption, the poverty rate would have risen by 7.3 percentage points. This means that without adoption the number of the poor would have been 173,927. This implies that a calculated 30,448 individuals from adopting households have managed to move out of poverty as a result of the adoption of improved cassava varieties in the study area.
The impact of the institute on agriculture development in Africa has perhaps gingered the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi to honour Sanginga with the title: ‘Aare Afurugbin Ola Ile.’