Centers of Innovation announced with goal to develop improved crops in East and Southern Africa

21 Sep, 2020

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement announced approximately $1 million in funding to launch the Center of Innovation for Crop Improvement for East and Southern Africa (CICI-ESA) in Malawi aimed at developing more resilient, nutritious crops throughout the region.

CICA-ESA will act as a regional hub for crop improvement, with a focus on cowpea due to the crop’s importance in regional food security.

CICA-ESA will guide the region towards sustainable, climate smart, equitable and effective crop improvement programs and reduce hunger and malnutrition in the long-term by driving improved tools, technologies and methods for target crops essential for food security in a range of environments, cropping systems and key stakeholders.

The three-year project is led by the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), the Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM) and the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI-ILONGA).

“Together we are creating impact and forming sustainable solutions to reduce hunger on a local and global scale.

The Center of Innovation will leave a lasting impact on food security for many years to come,” said Stephen Kresovich, program director and professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell and Clemson universities.

The new program will test and generate new, cutting-edge tools, technologies and methods that can stand up to common challenges of drought, heat, low soil fertility and pests.

CICI-ESA will elevate the voices of more diverse stakeholders in cultivar development and dissemination processes.

“This opportunity will help us to reach our current goal of developing more productive cowpea varieties that are farmer preferred, market driven, gender, youth and resilient inclusive using more effective and efficient breeding pipelines.

” said Michael Chipeta, principal investigator and plant breeder/lecturer at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).

“The center of innovation will be a training hub for plant breeders who can transform breeding practices using new techniques that are more efficient and precise to provide quality cultivars for the growing population in Malawi and other developing countries in East and Southern Africa.

” “Our mission is to be a support system for scientists to improve crops in a way that fits their own priorities.

We are committed to co-developing sustainable solutions alongside national programs in ways that answer their needs and those of local communities,” said Hale Ann Tufan, associate director of the Innovation Lab and extension associate in Cornell University’s Department of Global Development.

The Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement launched in October 2019 with funding from the U.


Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of Feed the Future, the U.


Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

It is based in Cornell University’s Department of Global Development, with partners across Clemson University, Kansas State University, Makerere University, Cultural Practice LLC and RTI International.

Bonnie Glick, deputy administrator for USAID, said that Innovation Labs like ILCI are bringing science and discovery to bear to improve agricultural production and livelihoods.

“This work is especially essential now when food security is becoming a pressing issue more and more each day,” she said.

The Innovation Lab at Cornell equips National Agricultural Research Institutes with the power to define their unique goals and drive advancement in crop improvement to reduce malnutrition, hunger and provide equitable benefits to women and youth.

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