Published on Africa Can End Poverty

Cultivating Change: The Imperative of Partnerships in Upscaling Transformative Agricultural Technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa for Enhanced Food Security

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Transformative Agricultural Technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa for Enhanced Food Security Photo credit: Harne Hoel / World Bank

In the heart of sub-Saharan Africa, amidst the fields of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria, I bore witness to something truly remarkable: the pioneering work being done to elevate agricultural productivity and ensure food security for an entire region. These transformative agricultural technologies—semi-autotrophic hydroponics (SAH), NoduMax, AflaSafe, and digital precision farming tools—have a vast potential to address critical agricultural and environmental challenges, but their true impact can only be realized through strategic partnerships and substantial investment.

The soil of sub-Saharan Africa is fertile not only in its agricultural potential but also in the promise of technological innovation. Each step I took on the IITA grounds filled me with a profound sense of hope for the future of smallholder farmers in this region. The technologies developed by IITA are not just solutions—they are beacons of possibility, illuminating the path to sustainable growth and prosperity. However, for these innovations to reach their full potential and deliver transformative change, they urgently require upscaling through strategic partnerships and substantial support.

Partnerships for capacity building and research are key

The World Bank is collaborating closely with governments and development partners to ensure that farmers and other stakeholders in sub-Saharan Africa benefit from innovative solutions to address the challenges posed by climate change and enhance food security in a sustainable manner. Partnerships with IITA and other members of the one-CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) and other development institutions are not just beneficial - they are essential. It is through these collaborations that the necessary investment for these technologies to thrive can be mobilized. Moreover, engaging private sector partners and securing policy and regulatory support are crucial steps in ensuring the rapid and widespread adoption of these technologies. Without these partnerships, the journey from innovation to impactful implementation would be filled with unnecessary obstacles.

Education and capacity building form the backbone of this strategy. Merely developing these technologies is not enough; equipping smallholder farmers with the knowledge and skills to effectively implement these innovations is equally critical. Partnerships with educational and capacity-building institutions will be paramount in ensuring that these technologies are not only adopted but utilized to their fullest potential, thereby ensuring sustainable impact at the grassroots level.

Yet, these technologies are not static entities; they require continual nurturing through research and development. It is imperative that we continue to invest in the evolution of these technologies to ensure their enduring relevance and effectiveness in addressing the ever-evolving challenges faced by smallholder farmers. This investment is an investment in the future, reaching beyond the present moment to secure the agricultural and economic stability of entire communities for generations to come.

Meaningful investment in technologies will be the game changer

In alignment with the World Bank's Evolution Roadmap and the Global Challenge on Food and Nutrition Security, it is important to prioritize the development and widespread adoption of technological innovations and best practices. This will play a vital role in enhancing smallholder productivity, reducing agricultural emissions to preserve the environment, and promoting the safety of food across the continent.

The potential impact of scaling up technologies such as those readily available within IITA and other members of the one-CGIAR cannot be overstated—the lives of millions of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa stand to be transformed.

This transformative journey requires the collective effort of governments, international organizations, financial institutions, the private sector, and educational institutions. It is a collaborative endeavor, an investment in the future, and a testament to the boundless potential of innovation when cultivated through the power of partnership. 

This blog was initially published on allAfrica.

Ousmane Diagana

Vice President, Western and Central Africa

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