Integrated systems research approach in agriculture is key to sustainable transformation in Africa, Director-General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga has said.
According to Sanginga, the benefits include increase in yields and livelihoods of resource-poor farmers.
He explained that the systems approach places the farmer at the center and develops an understanding of the farm-household, the environment in which he/she operates, and the constraints he/she faces; together with identifying and testing potential solutions to those constraints.
It also involves the dissemination of the most promising solutions to other farm households facing similar problems.
In his welcome address at the “Systems Marketplace” workshop held at IITA Ibadan and organized by the CGIAR Humidtropics programme in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Dr Sanginga reiterated IITA’s strong history with and commitment to integrated systems research.
He said CGIAR would no longer fund standalone systems research programmes in its new portfolio, adding that IITA would continue to support systems research and site integration efforts to successfully help with Africa’s agricultural transformation agenda.
He said:“The work of the Humidtropics programme has been shown to be very important for improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers, which is attracting the interest of governments and some key donors.”
Director of the Integrated Systems on Humidtropics programme, Dr Kwesi Atta-Krah, explained that system thinking was the way to go.
He said: “If we want transformation in Africa, we must approach issues in the agricultural sector with systems thinking because the African farmer thinks systems—on his farm, he plants cassava, yam, vegetables and name it. It is not just a single crop that he plants.”
More than 100 participants including leaders and researchers at the CGIAR System, Center and Programme levels, representing subject, organizational and cultural variety, according to a statement issued by IITA’s Communication & Knowledge expert, Godwin Atser, attended the 3-day Marketplace workshop.
The statement said: “For three intensive and productive days, they shared their knowledge and experiences to facilitate integration of systems thinking, tools, methods, approaches and partnerships in other Research for Development (R4D) initiatives.
“Presenting an independent and general perspective on systems research in the new CGIAR Research Programmes (CRPs) portfolio, Professor Maggie Gill, Chair of the ISPC (Independent Science and Partnership Council) CGIAR, mentioned that she was at the event to learn what systems research products were on offer, how new CRPs integrate systems approaches to enhance their contribution to achieving the development outcomes outlined in the CGIAR strategy and results framework.
“Dr Peter Gardiner from the CGIAR System Organization said the systems work done by the Humidtropics collected tools that would be mainstreamed into the new programmes”.
Photo Caption: Dr Ylva Hillbur, IITA Deputy Director General for Research (second from left) hands over the book on Sustainable Intensification in Smallholder Agriculture to CGIAR Research Programme leaders in Ibadan.