Father of Cassava, Dr. Dixon, proffers strategies on how researchers can disseminate agricultural innovations at scale
The Director of the Development and Delivery Office of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Alfred Dixon, has called for multiple linkages and collaborations for the dissemination of agricultural research outcomes.
He made the call recently while presenting his contract review seminar titled “Scaling up and scaling out of agricultural innovations at IITA – Duo for systemic change”
Dr. Dixon who is known as the “Father of Cassava” by his peers stressed that the churning out of innovations to boost agricultural productivity must be supported by strategic partnerships and collaborations in order for the farmers and the target population to feel the impact.
He explained that while “scaling out” entails linking with the private sector, the farmers and the markets, “scaling up” involves working with the governments and policy makers. He maintained that government would help create the right policy environment for the adoption of the new technologies by farmers and other stakeholders.
According to Dixon who is the project leader of the Cassava Weed Management Project (CWMP), which now operates under the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI), IITA cassava projects have been able to reach millions of farmers because of the linkages made with several stakeholders including government agencies.
He gave an example of the role former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is playing in the cassava advocacy. He also cited how 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.
He pointed out: “Just having agricultural productivity or increase in agricultural production will not necessarily lead to 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 famers. And you also need the government to give you the right policies and the powerful backing.
He went on to point out that, Africa’s increasing population growth rate poses a huge challenge as agricultural productivity remains far behind. He stressed that with Nigeria’s population expected to hit 400 million by the year 2050, there is need to double up on agricultural productivity figures.
“We are making progress but our productivity is still low,” he worried. “Our population growth keeps increasing. Therefore, no matter what, food and nutrition security is a gap. So there must be an agricultural transformation. We must increase productivity far more than the rate we are doing now.”
He stressed on the need for Research for Development (R4D) and Partnerships for Development (P4D) increase working relationships, “because both contribute to sustaining agricultural transformation for scaling up and scaling out of agricultural innovations”
“We need R4D to do the science, P4D to do the scaling. We have the multidisciplinary teams. All of them have to work together to link to the policy makers, that is the government for the scaling up. We have to link to the NARS also for the 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.”
He then went on to advise that future projects must consider sustainability and exit strategies before project design and implementation activities.