Using technologies for food security and rural livelihoods
Agriculture is one of Africa’s most important economic activities, providing employment opportunities and contributing to the average GDP for exported produce. Moreover, African agriculture generates income and enhances food production to meet rapidly growing population demands.
IITA, in partnership with two other CGIAR centers, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Bioversity International, had been implementing the Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Central Africa (CIALCA). CIALCA aimed to reduce poverty among smallholder farmers through increased farm productivity, household income, and improved nutrition.
For the project, IITA focused on developing and disseminating Cropping System Intensification (CSI) and improving market access for banana-based farming systems. Bioversity International introduced and disseminated new banana cultivars that led to the selection of best-performing cultivars that were later multiplied and disseminated to smallholder banana producers. CIAT focused on developing and distributing stress-tolerant and biofortified crop varieties for the market, which could be adapted to the local conditions of the areas.
A study was carried out by a group of scientists, including Paul M. Dontsop Nguezet, IITA Project Coordinator and Impact Economist in the Great Lakes region, including Burundi, Eastern DR Congo, and Rwanda. The study assessed the poverty reduction impacts of CSI technologies introduced into the region through the project.
The research revealed an increase in the adoption rate of CSI technologies which resulted in higher crop yield and crop income. This led to reduced poverty in the region and an increase in the consumption rate. Overall, Eastern DR Congo experienced the highest reduction in poverty of about 13%, followed by Rwanda (6%) and Burundi (2%). This contributed to removing nearly 200 thousand households out of poverty in the region.
One of IITA’s missions is to overcome poverty and increase food security by partnering with other research organizations to facilitate agricultural solutions; CSI technologies have been adopted to improve rural household welfare and reduce poverty through policy intervention. Subsequently, research organizations need to reach out to non-adopters to embrace the technologies to enhance livelihoods.