The majority of the population in Africa lives in rural areas and depends on what they grow to feed themselves. However, most rely on a major staple that offers calories but usually inadequate nutrients leading to malnutrition or “hidden hunger”. When people do not get the right quantities of vitamins and minerals in their diet, they are more susceptible sickness and diseases. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to micronutrient deficiencies and do not have enough Vitamin A, iron, and zinc needed to maintain a healthy diet.
Scientists at IITA and Harvest Plus in partnership with others have found ways to add these essential vitamins and minerals to everyday foods such as maize, cassava, and beans through biofortification – a process by which the nutritional quality of a food crop is enhanced through plant breeding.
CGIAR Strategy 2016–2030
We aim to contribute to achieving 150 million fewer hungry people, 100 million fewer poor people by 2030 as part of the CGIAR Strategy 2016–2030.
The CGIAR has three goals, or System Level Outcomes (SLOs). They are as follows:
To reduce poverty
Improve food and nutrition security
Improve natural resources and ecosystem services
The goals contribute strongly to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at:
good health and well-being
clean water and sanitation
life on land
Our research priorities
Our research priorities come under our overall research themes and include:
Strengthening seed sector
Supporting sustainable agro-input supply and use
Strengthening national agricultural research and extension systems
Scaling models – public private partnerships
Engaging youth in agriculture
Developing improved varieties, agronomy, crop protection
Establishing sustainable intensification/diversification
Linking farmers to markets
Mechanization, post harvest and processing
Establishing the importance of gender and youth
Developing safe and nutritious food
CGIAR Research Programs (CRP) II Portfolio
CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) were designed to address today’s most pressing agricultural research-for-development challenges such as climate change, agriculture, and food security and rural poverty at a global level. The CRPs aligned the research of 15 CGIAR Research Centers and their partners into efficient, coherent, multidisciplinary programs to tackle complex development issues.
The CRP II portfolio builds on the original CRPs to maintain momentum in selected areas, but puts more emphasis on integrated agri-food systems based approaches, nutrition and health, climate change, soils and degraded l and, reducing food systems waste, food safety, global stewardship of genetic resources, and big data & ICT.
IITA Agri-Food System programs
Under the current Agri-Food System programs, we are actively conducting research in the following programs:
Dryland Cereals and Legumes systems
Maize agri-food systems
Roots, tubers and bananas agri-food systems
The other CGIAR research programs include the following:
Fish agri-food systems
Forest and Agroforestry landscapes
Livestock agri-food systems
Rice agri-food systems
Wheat agri-food systems
Global Integrating programs
Nutrition & Health
Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM)
Big data & ICT
As an institution, IITA has made a long-term commitment to conserve Africa’s plant and animal genetic resources for future generations. At IITA we keep expansive collections of both crops and noncrops, in (in situ) or out (ex situ) of their natural environment.
The range of agrobiodiversity, the component of biodiversity that contributes to food and agriculture, enables IITA scientists to continue their research and farmers to keep producing food. This biodiversity must be maintained.
Our Genetic Resources Center, or Genebank, has thousands of crop varieties available for research and as disaster relief, and our insect collection contains some of Africa’s rarest insect species. All our efforts are focused on maintaining biodiversity in sub-Saharan Africa.
Today, the world is losing genetic resources at unprecedented rates. The biological basis for food security is fast disappearing. Agricultural sustainability therefore depends on a strong conservation component.
Plant and animal genetic resources are the foundation of sustainable agriculture and global food security. Genetic diversity enables plants to adapt to new pests and diseases as well as to climatic and environmental changes.
Preserving biodiversity outside of its natural environment is done in the Genebank. IITA’s Genebank holds over 28,000 accessions of plant material or germplasm, of major African food crops. This germplasm is held in trust on behalf of humanity under the sponsorship of the United Nations. It is distributed without restriction for use in research for food and agriculture.
Started in the mid-seventies the Genebank helps in crop improvement and also provides “seeds of hope” for people affected by flood, fire, wars, and other disasters.
Major crops in the IITA Genebank
The main crops stored in the Genebank are cowpea, cassava, plantain and banana, yam, soybean, bambara groundnut, and maize. In addition, substantial collections of wild cowpea relatives and miscellaneous legumes have been collated over the past 30 years. More recently a small collection of African yam bean, an underused legume, has been put together.
By far the most important crop in the Genebank is the cowpea. The IITA Genebank holds the world’s largest and most diverse collection of cowpeas with 15,122 unique samples from 88 countries, representing 70% of African cultivars and nearly half of the global diversity. This incredible collection makes IITA integral in the protection of the cowpea species.
The Genebank facilities
Depending on the species and its reproductive and dissemination biology, collections are either stored in the field, or in the seed or in-vitro genebanks.
All crops producing orthodox seeds are maintained at optimal water content in medium-term (5 ºC, 30–35% relative humidity) or long-term (-20 ºC, under vacuum) storage conditions.
Clonal crops, those that are propagated through cuttings, are either maintained in the field or the in-vitro genebank. Sometimes they are kept in both to maintain the collection.
IITA’s work with national and international partners on identification and observation of insect species is, therefore, important to control the spread of these invasive species.
In Africa where much of the planet’s insect biodiversity occurs, rapidly accelerating human activity has contributed to the introduction and spread of invasive pests.
Insects represent the majority of living organisms on Earth, accounting for about two-thirds of all creatures and filling many niches in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. They play an important regulatory role, but some can become notorious pests of agricultural, medical, and veterinary importance
Our research takes place across the African continent at a range of facilities from laboratories to field research sites. With the latest technology and equipment, IITA is committed to research-for-development activities that bring solutions to farmers, rural communities, and the people of sub-Saharan Africa. We have stations in West, East, South, and Central regions that are prepared to deal with these goals and are equipped with specialized tools to further our ground-breaking research.
The Knowledge Center offers a variety of print and non-print materials plus access to electronic journals and databases. We subscribe to the full text of over 135 electronic journal titles. The Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), which represents our print collection, is on the web with over 110,000 records. The collection is mainly in English with some titles in French. The photo library has over 1,000 records and can be accessed via Flickr.
The Knowledge Center collections in agriculture and life science disciplines represent 50 years of cutting-edge research by IITA and partners.
The Knowledge Center at headquarters provides easy and quick access to the information that researchers need to work productively and cost effectively regardless of their location.
The services on offer include the following:
- Online access to the full text of the research output of IITA scientists since inception in the IITA Bibliography
- Online access to the full text of IITA publications in the IITA Bibliography
- Online access to the full text of current journal articles in over 135 journals. (includes collaboration with all other CGIAR center libraries)
- Access to the full text of journal articles in 145 journals via TEEAL (spell out)
- Access to various electronic databases like CABDIRECT, CGVLibrary (centralized access to libraries, catalogs, and databases held by CGIAR centers) and AJOL (African Journals Online) and so on
- Internet / Database searches
- Assistance for retrieval from the shelves
- Electronic delivery of documents to scientists
- Interlibrary loan (local and international)
- Access to images in the image gallery on Flickr
- Reference service (via e-mail, on-line chat, live-support requests, phone, or at the circulation desk)
- Lending of books and journals
- Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI)
- Distribution of relevant IITA publications to staff, donors, partners and other interested users.
Open Access (OA) at IITA will see scientific papers and articles from the Institute’s research becoming fully published online, unrestricted, and available for free reuse, albeit with due acknowledgment, by the general public.
IITA is putting in place a set of Open Access tools which show promise in fully unlocking research potentials and giving their research efforts more visibility. A set of OA and data management implementation guidelines and policy have also been developed by CGIAR.
- CGIAR Open Access and Data Management Policy
- CGIAR Open Access and Data Management Implementation Guidelines
- OA for Communicators
- OA for Project Managers
- OA for Researchers
- OA General Brochure
- OA Poster 1
- OA Poster 2
- OA Poster 3
IITA produces many scientific publications in line with our research themes. Our entire collection is available to view online and provides a wide range of information on some of the world’s most cutting edge research.
Access IITA publications:
The Unit is guided by the following terms of reference:
- Guide the conduct of ME&L across all projects and programs of the institute. Provide technical backstopping to IITA Strategic and CRP projects.
- Contribute to data aggregation and alignment functions of lITA’s Institutional Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and the CGIAR System Level
- Institutionalize Management Information Systems (MIS) and manage the automation of M&E processes in IITA. (IITA MEL Dashboard, MARLO, CLARISA, OBB)
- Conduct midterm evaluation of IITA projects in HQ and hubs using OECD evaluation criteria e.g. impact, sustainability, relevance, efficiency and effectiveness and provide recommendations to senior management and project managers.
- Lead the IITA ME&L-CoP team activities that includes M&E professionals and focal persons of hubs or other projects. Represent IITA on the CGIAR M&E groups, and regional M&E communities of practice.
Currently the CGIAR is restructuring into ONE CGIAR with shared services. A new strategy and results framework (2022-2030) has been initiated to guide the process. The notion of shared support services on results and performance-based management is to provide support to all the three action areas:
- System Transformation
- Resilient Agrifood systems
- Genetic innovation.
Our vision is to become a center of excellence in M&E that would conduct research and provide technical M&E support and guidance to contribute to ONE CGIAR at global, regional and country levels.
The ME&L Unit provides the following services to projects
- Theory of Change and Impact Pathways
- Logical / Result Frameworks
- Constructing Performance Indicators
- Baseline Studies
- Household surveys / Evaluation Studies
- ME&L Strategy Development
- Learning Agenda
- MIS Support
- ME&L Training
Monitoring Evaluation and learning Community of practice (ME&L CoP):
The ME&L-CoP was formed in 2014 with 12 project M&E specialists/officers across the four hubs. These M&E experts joined seven project managers and seven staff of the M&E Unit to organize the first M&E summit in 2015. ME&L-CoP membership grew to 15 M&E specialists/officers in 2018. After a period of inactivity, it was rejuvenated in 2019 and it has now grown to 24 members in 2020. The ME&L-CoP is guided by the following principles:
- Monthly virtual meetings
- Yearly Summit (face-to-face)
- Joint Monitoring and Evaluation of IITA’s Key Performance Indicators
- Sharing ideas on ME&L Tools, Methods and processes
- Linkage with CGIAR MELCOP and Impact Assessment COP
- Capacity Building activities
- Common Performance Management Standard
- Joint Proposal Writing.