IITA at 45: 1967 to 2012 and beyond…

This year, IITA marks its 45th year of service to the African farmers and national agricultural research systems.

In 1962, two years after the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations helped launch the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI, Los Baños, the Philippines), both Foundations began discussing the possibility of establishing centers concerned with improving the yield and quality of tropical food crops other than rice. Thus, was the idea of an institute that would conduct research in the tropics of sub-Saharan Africa conceived by IITA’s founders1.

The Institute was established in July 1967, as the first major African link in an integrated network of international agricultural research centers located throughout the developing regions of the world.

IITA is under the umbrella of the CGIAR, a global research partnership that unites 15 organizations engaged in research for sustainable development for a food secure future that carries out research in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.

Funding for IITA came initially from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and the land for the headquarters in Ibadan was allotted by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Currently, the Institute is one of the world’s leading research partners in finding solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. IITA’s award-winning research for development (R4D) addresses the development needs of the poor and vulnerable in the tropics. Together with scores of partners, IITA is contributing to enhance crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture.

For the last 45 years, IITA has delivered over 70% of the impact from the CGIAR in sub-Saharan Africa. The Institute has achieved this by focusing on key tropical food crops, such as banana and plantain, cassava, cowpea, maize, soybean, yam, and tree and vegetable crops.

For the next decade, IITA plans to raise over 20 million people out of poverty while simultaneously making available over 25 million hectares of farm lands for agricultural production. This is important as demand for food in the midst of the rising population and limited natural resources will remain as important challenges.

IITA will tackle these challenges by pursuing high quality research that improves food security, increases the profitability of foods and other agricultural products, and helps national entities to expand agricultural growth.

With the help of partners and other stakeholders, IITA endeavors to continue to improve the lives of the poor in the region through R4D.

1 Excerpts taken from Ortiz, R. 2004. IITA: 40 yeas after. Historical account for the Handbook of IITA Board of Trustees. IITA Report. 36 pp.

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