Written by Adeleke Mainasara
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a US$ 63.24 million fund package for the implementation of a 5-year project dubbed “Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa” (SARD-SC).
The SARD-SC is a research, science, and technology development initiative aimed at enhancing the productivity and income derived from cassava, maize, rice, and wheat – four of the six commodities that African Heads of States, through the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program, have defined as strategic crops for Africa.
The project will be co-implemented by three Africa-based centers under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) namely: the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Africa Rice Center, and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas. IITA is also the Executing Agency of the project.
The notice of grant approval was received by Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, Director General of IITA, on March 2. It was signed by Dougou Keita, Manager of the Agriculture and Agro-Industry Division 2 of the Bank.
The SARD-SC Project comes at an opportune time when food security and nutrition are high on the national agenda of the Bank’s Regional Member Countries (RMCs), as rising food prices push millions of people into extreme hunger and poverty. The SARD-SC allows – for the first time ever in a single project – a continental coverage of the food security challenges in Africa.
Its overall goal is to enhance food and nutrition security and contribute to poverty reduction in the Bank’s low-income RMCs. Its target beneficiaries are individual farmers and consumers, farmers’ groups including youth and women, policy makers, private sector operators, marketers/traders, transporters, small-scale agricultural machinery manufacturers, and institutions.
The Bank’s low-income RMCs include Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The project is expected to contribute towards addressing the current shortfall in food supply in these countries and beyond by working across the full value chain of each crop and addressing both food costs and employment creation. Through its value chain approach, SARD-SC will also contribute to crop-livestock integration based on the use of the commodities’ by-products.
The well-tested, IITA-espoused research-for-development model adopted in this project can deliver stellar results as most of the successful technologies, models, manpower, and knowledge to be mobilized in SARD-SC are already available from the implementing CGIAR Centers and national partners. SARD-SC will produce regional public goods that may be used not only in the target RMCs but also in other countries in Africa.