New project to accelerate use of innovations for increased agricultural productivity in Africa

14 June 2017: An ambitious project to increase the adoption rate of agricultural technologies and reduce the food insecurity burden in Africa was launched at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Nairobi Campus last week. 

The Innovations in Technology, Institutional and Extension Approaches towards Sustainable Agriculture and Enhanced Food and Nutritional Security in Africa (InnovAfrica) project is jointly coordinated by the Bioscience eastern and central Africa-ILRI (BecA-ILRI) Hub and the Norwegian Institute of Bio-economy (NIBIO). This four-year project will spearhead the implementation and promotion of innovations that have potential to sustainably increase agricultural productivity in Sub Saharan Africa.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), sub Saharan Africa continues to have high levels of food and nutrition insecurity despite advances in agricultural research and provision of extension services. The low uptake of innovations by farmers has been cited as a barrier transforming farming from subsistence to a profitable activity.

Speaking during the official opening of the five-day workshop marking the InnovAfrica launch, ILRI director general Jimmy Smith emphasized the need for the involvement of smallholder farmer right from the technology generation process.

‘If this project can turn ideas into solutions that add value from the customers’ perspective, then we will make a great contribution to food security search,’ said Smith.

‘Research that is supposed to benefit farmers is often carried out without ithe involvement of farmers,’ said Juvenal Musine, coordinator of the Federation of Farmers and Pastoralists of Rwanda (IMBARAGA). ‘We hope this project will integrate our indigenous knowledge into the new technologies,’ he added.

Adding his voice to the call to work closely with farmers, NIBIO director general Nils Vagstad said ‘It all begins with the farmers–empowering them and building their capacity to handle their challenges.’


InnovAfrica brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts from 16 institutions including African national agricultural research systems (NARS), CGIAR and international institutions, farmer group representatives and private sector partners. The project spans six African countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and South Africa – and is funded under the European Union (EU) Africa Research and Innovation Partnership, a partnership between EU and the African Union.

The BecA-ILRI Hub director Jacob Mignouna noted that partnerships and capacity building were at the heart of the project, which will use new approaches of extension services to increase smallholder farmers’ ability to adopt innovative agricultural systems. 

European Commission research programming and policy officer Agnieszka Romanowicz lauded the plans to support the practical application of research findings through multi-actor platforms.

‘What the EC would like to see from this project is the uptake of research products,’ said Romanowicz.


Read related story: First step towards increased food and nutritional security in Africa

About InnovAfrica

The InnovAfrica project aims at improving food and nutritional security in Africa. This will be achieved by integrating sustainable agriculture intensification systems and innovative institutional approaches with novel extension and advisory services by enhancing capacity building and knowledge sharing in smallholder farming in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

The project is coordinated by NIBIO and the BecA-ILRI Hub and brings together a consortium of partners including:

  • Haramaya University (Ethiopia)
  • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (Kenya)
  • Kenya National Farmers' Federation (Kenya)
  • University of Malawi (Malawi)
  • Soils Food and Healthy Communities Organization (Malawi)
  •  Rwanda Agriculture Board (Rwanda)
  • Modern Dairy Farmers' Cooperative (IAKIB) (Rwanda)
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania)
  • University of Tuscia (Italy)
  • Stichting Dienst Landbrouwkundig Onderzoed (DLO-Alterra) (the Netherlands)
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway)
  • Agricultural Research Council (South Africa)
  • International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) South Africa Regional Office (Zimbabwe)
  • Knowledge Intelligence Applications GmbH (Germany)

The project is funded by the EC under the Horizon 2020 program.


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