Innovation Showcase: Research through development to commercialization of agricultural innovations

  • Date
    04.07.24
  • Time
    05:30 pm > 07:00 pm UTC+03:00
  • Location
    United Nations, Conference Room 8, Nairobi, Kenya

Thematic Areas: Scaling Innovations

The IITA Business Incubation Platform (BIP) serves as IITA’s platform for scaling technology. Over the years, BIP has been instrumental in facilitating the scaling of some of the IITA-developed technologies. This has led to the scaling of seed systems technologies, the promotion of mechanization equipment developed by CGIAR, the facilitation of policy formulation and implementation, and contributions to import substitution, among other achievements. 

With a track record of success and valuable lessons learned, BIP proposes a side event to share our experiences engaging with the private sector and government to scale CGIAR-developed technologies. This side event during the CGIAR Science Week aims to share BIP’s success stories on facilitating and catalyzing the commercialization of proven agricultural technologies, challenges, and lessons learned to inspire and guide similar initiatives across the CGIAR network. 

Key Achievements to be Presented;

1. Supporting Import Substitution: The impact of BIP in extending the delivery of research products from IITA to private sectors of different categories, including multinational companies, processing factories, and farmers/seed entrepreneurs, was demonstrated through the successful production EGS, support for incubation of out-growers business and support for the delivery of stems of improved specific cassava varieties to meet the demand for import substitution of Sorbitol from Cassava derivatives.  

A tripartite agreement was arranged among IITA-BIP, Unilever Nigeria PLC, and Psaltry Ltd. BIP, through its network of incubated and trained seed entrepreneurs,

produced high-quality cassava stems, which were then sold to Psaltry Ltd, a sorbitol factory, to establish 1200 ha of cassava. This initiative aimed to increase the production of sorbitol to meet at least 50% of Unilever’s requirements, thereby contributing to import substitution for Unilever and Nigeria as a whole. 

2. Strengthening seed systems in Sub-Saharan African countries: BIP houses cutting-edge technologies utilized by its Early Generation seed company, BIP-GoSeed, to produce high-quality seeds of staple crops in Africa. One of the critical technologies is Semi-Autotrophic Hydroponics (SAH) for cassava multiplication, which has been successful in Nigeria, Mali, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and several African countries. This innovation has revolutionized cassava seed systems, addressing previously formidable challenges. In addition to SAH, BIP employs Drip Hydroponics and Leaf bud-cutting systems for seed yam production. These technologies are readily adopted by the private sector and can be adapted for other vegetatively propagated crops. Notable examples of private sector entities that have embraced these technologies include Obasanjo Farm Nigeria Limited, Premium Cassava Products Limited, Agrobiotech in Mali, Psaltry in Nigeria, and Ceragru in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Furthermore, numerous National Institutions across Africa have also adopted these innovative technologies, marking a significant step forward in agricultural development on the continent. 

Provision of Climate Resilient Varieties of Seeds: In 2023, 75.87 tons of seeds were mobilized through BIP’s outgrower network for a USAID-funded project in Northeast Nigeria. This initiative provided access to Climate-Resilient Seeds for vulnerable populations, including internally displaced persons, facilitating their reintegration into the community. 

3. Advisory Services in Africa: In Congo Brazzaville, Central Africa: IITA BIP, through its Agro advisory services subsidiary, Agriserve, conducted a pre-feasibility study in collaboration with a Rice scientist from AfricaRice, a CGIAR Center, for M & A Resources. The study focused on setting up and managing over 3,000 hectares of commercial rice farms in Owando and Bouya, Congo Brazzaville. Leveraging internal capacities, IITA BIP comprehensively supported M & A Resources in the project concept development. 

In Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa: IITA BIP – AgriServe played a pivotal role in leading and coordinating the Soil Assessment of Proposed Sites for the Youth in Agribusiness Program commissioned by the Government of Cote d’Ivoire through its Ministry of Agriculture. This initiative underscores IITA BIP’s commitment to providing tailored advisory services to promote agricultural development and youth empowerment across Africa. 

In Nigeria, through BIP, IITA provided technical support to the Oyo State government, a subnational government in Nigeria, to develop its transformatory agribusiness strategy, develop its Public-private and development partnership model, and support the development of new agricultural ecosystems that create a paradigm shift in its food systems, this includes establishing an Agricultural Transformation Hub valued at over USD 5 million. This initiative has attracted direct private sector investment of USD13 million to the state hub and support from development partners to develop more such hubs across the state. The hub has become the reference point and inspiration for the Federal Government of Nigeria to replicate similar model agricultural hubs across the country.

4. Alternative Feed and Entrepreneurship Development: With funding from the Dutch Government, IITA BIP collaborated with New Generation Nutrition Netherlands, the University of Ibadan, ProEnto Netherlands, Feed Calculator, and Nigerian Breweries Plc to establish an Insect 4 Feed demo farm focused on the incubation of Black Soldier Fly (BSF) for feed production. This partnership facilitated the empowerment of 21 entrepreneurs in 2023 through a 13-week incubation training program on sustainable alternative protein sources for livestock and poultry. 

5. NoduMax Development and Scaling: Developed by IITA and partners and nurtured by BIP, NoduMax is a bio-fertilizer renowned for its nitrogen-fixing properties, boosting yields by up to 35-40% in leguminous crops, notably Soybean. The product has successfully undergone registration and distribution across seven African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, DR Congo, and The Gambia. With over 150,000 farmers benefiting from its application, NoduMax has inoculated more than 216,000 hectares of soybean farms, promoting increased yields and enhanced plant health. 

6. Mechanization Policy Development: In partnership with the University of Ibadan and the Innovation Lab for Policy Leadership in Agriculture and Food Security (PiLAF), BIP is spearheading the formulation of an agricultural mechanization policy tailored for Oyo State, Nigeria. This pioneering effort is poised for nationwide replication. Additionally, leveraging funding from an IFAD-supported Zero Hunger Project, BIP conducted a comprehensive Agricultural Mechanization Needs Assessment in Togo, providing invaluable insights and policy recommendations for enhancing the country’s agricultural sector. 

Speakers:

  • Adebowale Akande, Director of Private Partnership Engagement IITA & CEO of its Business Incubation Platform I
  • Prakash Silwal, IITA
  • Tony Jibunoh