The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement announced approximately $4 million in funding to launch four Centers of Innovation (CoI) for Crop Improvement aimed at developing more resilient, nutritious crops in East Africa, West Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The CoIs will act as regional hubs for crop improvement, driving tools, technologies and methods that will target crops that are essential for food security in a range of environments, cropping systems and key stakeholders. Each CoI will be funded for three years and will be led by National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARI) in those countries to pave their own path towards sustainable, climate smart, equitable and effective crop improvement programs.
“Together we are creating impact and forming sustainable solutions to reduce hunger on a local and global scale. The Center of Innovations will leave a lasting impact on food security for many years to come.”Stephen Kresovich, program director and professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell and Clemson universities
The Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement launched in October 2019 with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Feed the Future program. 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.
The Innovation Lab at Cornell equips NARIs 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.
“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.”Hale Ann Tufan, associate director of the Innovation Lab and extension associate in Global Development
The selected CoIs will be hosted by four NARIs across East Africa, West Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean including:
- Costa Rica and Haiti: The Central American and Caribbean Crop Improvement Alliance (CACCIA) will focus on common bean, sorghum and sweet potato and be hosted by the Instituto Nacional de Innovación y Transferencia en Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) in Costa Rica and Quisqueya University in Haiti.
- Malawi: The Center of Innovation for Crop Improvement for East and Southern Africa (CICI-ESA), led by Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) in Malawi. (Affiliated countries: Mozambique and Tanzania)
- Senegal: Crop Innovation in West Africa (CIWA) will lead genetic gain and for rapid development of varieties of sorghum, pearl millet and cowpea, led by the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA) in Senegal. (Affiliated countries: Burkina Faso and Niger)
- Uganda: East African Center of Innovation for Finger Millet and Sorghum (CIFMS), led by the National Semi arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI) in Uganda. (Affiliated countries: Kenya and Tanzania)
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.