IITA promotes agriculture as a business for smallholder farmers in DR Congo
As part of the PICAGL project implementation funded by the World Bank through the Congolese government, IITA hosted an agricultural fair in Bukavu from 8 to 9 April with the theme: “Agriculture as Business, Source of income for smallholders farmers in South Kivu.”
The fair’s general objective was to highlight IITA’s research contribution, with the support of its partners, in favor of smallholder farmers in South Kivu. These include producing healthy varieties with high yields and tolerance to diseases in collaboration with the National Institution for Study and Agronomic Research (INERA); the certification and approval of varieties in the national catalog with the national seed service certification body SENASEM; and research on plant diseases, sustainable management of degraded soils with universities.
The fair also showcased Rikolto’s work building actors’ capacity in good rice-growing practices and facilitating access to quality seeds and inputs. They also introduced new high-yield rice varieties in the DRC and small agricultural machines replicable locally in the rice-growing system. The Veterinarians without Borders-Belgium (VSF-B) exhibited the valuation of fodder species already adopted and the introduction of new fodder species, introducing the agriculture-breeding approach, genetic improvement, animal health, and training of trainers through capacity building of direct beneficiary veterinarians.
CIAT-HarvestPlus demonstrated the improvement and adaptation test of nutritious crops, including biofortified maize rich in provitamin A and biofortified bean rich in iron and zinc, which are particularly beneficial for children under five years, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers in areas with irregular or non-existent vaccination and nutrition interventions.
ICRAF’s exhibition highlighted the management of natural resources while IFPRI exhibited strategies to develop South-Kivu’s agricultural sector. The Provincial Plan for the agriculture investment (PPIA) was developed from this collaboration. The PPIA proposal is based on studies carried out to improve agricultural productivity by promoting agricultural activities, which improve product quality at a reduced cost while ensuring the best income for farmers.
The PICAGL project focuses on Support for Women and Youth; IITA’s support for this vulnerable population has been based on agribusiness training in different agricultural value chains with partners’ support on business management.
The project has supported the development of business plans for youth enterprises and community cassava processing centers (CCTMA) managed by agricultural associations, some of which obtained loans from banks or received subsidies from PICAGL. The project also highlights mechanization at the local level to reduce the labor intensity and increase product quality under good hygienic conditions.
As part of the project, IITA intervenes on regional integration to promote trade in the Great Lakes Region, bringing much more growth and business opportunities to the region. The exchanges are made between DRC and Burundi, which has a similar project, PRDAIGL, financed by the same donor, the World Bank.