By Wandera Ojanji
Millions of smallholder farmers in Africa and the Global South stand to increase farm productivity, incomes and gain from improved livelihoods following the launch of the Excellence in Agronomy 2030 (EiA 2030) Platform.
EiA 2030, a Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) initiative, was launched during the 2020 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) online summit last September. The agronomy research and innovation
initiative aims at supporting agricultural productivity growth in the Global South.
The ongoing ‘One-CGIAR’ reform process provides the opportunity for an agronomy initiative to address the productivity, climate and environmental challenges in the Global South while enhancing smallholder farmer’s livelihoods.
The Global South is made up of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, and the developing countries in Asia, including the
Middle East. It is home to Brazil, India and China, which along with Indonesia and Mexico are the largest Southern states in terms of area and population.
EiA 2030 is an initiative of nine CGIAR centres: AfricaRice, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the International Potato Center (CIP), the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF),
A smallholder farmer proudly displays quality tomatoes harvested from her farm.
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International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Central Africa Hub Director Dr Bernard Vanlauwe.
EiA 2030 is premised on demand
driven agronomic solutions to develop recommendations that match the needs and objectives of the end users
the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
CGIAR is evolving, consolidating its partnership, knowledge and assets. EiA 2030 represents the collective resolve of CGIAR’s agronomy programmes to transform the world’s food systems through demand- and data-driven agronomy research for development.
Sustainable intensification, agronomy and agro-ecology are the key science domains in the new One CGIAR strategy. EiA 2030 will be driven by science, data and evidence with particular focus on assessing what works where, for whom and why.
EiA 2030 was created to galvanize an integrated framework to identify, diagnose and resolve yield-limiting factors using data
driven solutions and innovations to scale for smallholder farmers. It responds to public and private initiatives investing in sustainable intensification of these systems.
Through EiA 2030, CGIAR sees
agronomic gain for millions of women, men and youth smallholder farmers with positive impact on food security, income and health under climate variability.
“We have achieved a lot in delivering agronomic gain at a scale for sustainable intensification of smallholder farming systems in the Global South. But we can do
through a coordinated research and development effort in the context of the One CGIAR,” says IITA Research for Development Director for Natural Resource Management Bernard Vanlauwe, the implementation lead of the EiA 2030 Platform.
The initiative could not have come
private and public sector partners for agronomy has increased over the past decade. Diversified demands focusing on productivity to broader impact goals such as climate change adaption, mitigation and sustainable intensification.
These longer-term outcomes cannot be delivered by multiple time limited and dispersed projects, it requires a
Demand driven impact at scale through targeting of context specific and integrated interventions are key to achieving larger impact at scale and prioritization of the developed investments.
EiA 2030 is proposed as a central channel to answer these demands and bring coherence in global efforts to address the challenges of agricultural productivity.
Agronomy has evolved with the availability of technology such as data science, remote sensing, geo-spatial analytics and decision support tools. EiA 2030 is suited to champion this new era of agronomy based on data driven approaches and tools applicable at scale on the ground.
EiA 2030 will combine big data analytics, new sensing technologies, geospatial decision tools and farming systems research to improve spatially explicit agronomic recommendations in response to demand from scaling partners.
EiA 2030 science will integrate the principles of sustainable intensification informed by climate change considerations, behavioural economics, and scaling pathways at
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A researcher explains agronomy features to a group of smallholder farmers. EiA 2030 was created identify, diagnose and resolve yield limiting factors.
national and regional levels.
Site-specific variability across diverse farming systems is a major challenge, requiring evidence on what works,
understanding of food production systems to overcome adoption barriers and enable the application at scale of research and development for sustainable agriculture.
EiA 2030 has set four goals aiming at sustainable intensification in the Global South: increased yields/ profitability for key crops in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia, improved resource use efficiencies in areas with relatively good soils and weather, increased yield stability in areas affected by climate variability, and improved soil health in addressing soil degradation.
EiA 2030 is designed to respond to the five global challenges – nutrition, food security and one health, poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs, gender equality, youth and social inclusion, climate adaptation and greenhouse gas reductions, and environmental health and biodiversity.
Through a two-year incubation phase funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project will demonstrate the added value of demand-driven research and development. The approach will make use of novel data and analytics and increased cooperation among centres supporting a One CGIAR agronomy initiative aiming at sustainable intensification of
Speaking during the launch, Dr Vanlauwe, who is also IITA’s Director for Central Africa stated: “EiA 2030 is premised on demand-driven agronomic solutions to develop recommendations that match the needs and objectives of the end users.”
EiA 2030 will use agronomy as the entry point to address modern day challenges of productivity, sustainability and climate change. It will also embrace key systems research topics while avoiding the challenges encountered by the earlier system of CGIAR research programmes.
EiA 2030 embraces the 10 elements or principles of agro-ecology — diversity, synergies, efficiency, resilience, recycling, co-creation and knowledge sharing, human and social values, culture and formal traditions, responsible governance, circular and solidarity economy.
Vanlauwe explains that the focus on agronomy is driven by the fact that the science of integrative soil and soil management accounts for spatial and temporal variability towards targeted advisories accounting for yield, profitability, risk and sustainability and the diverse requirements of end users.
Farmers commonly take 10-20 decisions relating to their production systems on a seasonal basis and each decision interacts with other farming system components.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
says the initiative is a cornerstone for One CGIAR. “It is ingenious to have a platform like EiA 2030 that looks at solutions that have worked
and whether they can be applied in
CIMMYT Director General Martin Kropff says the initiative’s goal is to become the leading platform for next-generation agronomy in the Global South, responding to public and private sector demand.
It would also increase efficiencies in the development and delivery of solutions through increased collaboration, cooperation and cross-learning between CGIAR centres and within the broader agronomy research and development ecosystem, including agroecological approaches.
To increase efficiencies in the development and delivery of solutions, EiA 2030 will address market failures and organization deficits.
Dr Vanlauwe explains that EiA 2030 would be delivered through four key modules of Organize, Transform, Innovate and Deliver, driven by demand, science and data
EiA 2030 will position its research and development agenda in the context of specific public-private demand and develop solutions in partnership with scaling partners and national agricultural research institutes.
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