Science-based delivery to transform African agriculture

Murat Sartas IITA-Bukavu/WUR 

Partners looking at experimental field. Photo by T. Gondwe, IITA

In its golden jubilee year, IITA completed its strategic planning process and organizational restructuring to offer effective and efficient services for transforming agriculture in the continent. However, transformation of African agriculture has paramount challenges due to the social and physical diversity of the continent. This necessitates comprehensive approaches and customized strategies for increasing the use of technologies and achieving agricultural transformation. Such approaches and strategies cannot be achieved using existing innovation delivery approaches, which are based on high standardization and do not use real time data.

The objective of the “Scaling Readiness” program is to develop state-of-the-art decision support tools that can contribute to the extensive scaling of agricultural innovations. Scaling ready research is intended to enhance the IITA innovation science research initiated in the CGIAR Research Program on Humidtropics and use the experience of IITA scientists in Central Africa.

Scaling Readiness Barrel. Innovations targeted by research-for-development
projects (R4D) consist of multiple components. The component with the lowest
scalability (measured against readiness and use indexes) determines the
scalability of the innovation as a whole. To have a more effective scaling outcome
and to use resources efficiently, R4D projects need to focus their activities on
the component with the least scalability.

The research has since been taken up by many more initiatives at the Institute and beyond. In 2017, the team tested the approach and toolkit across all priority countries of the AfDB- funded Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) project. These are Nigeria, Tanzania, and DR Congo. Other countries include Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda as well as countries in other tropical regions such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Ecuador under the framework of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB).

Scaling readiness achievements

Scaling Readiness has contributed significantly to:

  • A rapid analysis of the innovation system including profiling stakeholders, innovations, and projects based on their relevance to scalability.
  • Identifying the specific innovations that impede agricultural transformation in the targeted geographical areas.
  • Measuring current scalability of the innovations using evidence.
  • Tracking the improvements in scalability of innovations.

Scaling Readiness Team

The core team consists of IITA, Wageningen University, Bioversity International, CIP, and

During 2017 Scaling Readiness supported the following projects:

  • African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) led by IITA
  • Consortium for Improving Agriculture Based Livelihoods in Central Africa (CIALCA) led by IITA
  • Community Phytosanitation for managing cassava brown streak disease (CBSD)
  • Cambodia Cassava National Policy Consortium (CNP) led by UNDP
  • Single Diseased Stem Removal (SDSR) led by Bioversity International
  • Potato Late Blight Management (PLBM) led by CIP
  • Capacity Development of Agricultural Innovation Systems (CDAIS) led by FAO and AGRINATURE.

In April 2017, the ACAI project conducted a baseline survey of the scalability of its components before it started scaling activities. Near the end of the project in February 2017, the Community Phytosanitation project made an endline assessment of the scalability of its components. It identified significant progress in the development of variety and partnership arrangement, but the local seed multiplication system was a critical component that hindered the application of the approach at scale.

Locations where the Scaling Readiness approach and tools were implemented in 2017.

Scaling Readiness research outputs in 2017
  1. Innovation and Scaling in Research for Development Interventions and Fundamentals of Scaling Readiness Approach
  2. Scaling readiness indicators and tools for assessing technology, innovation and scaling readiness
  3. The Scaling Readiness Case Studies
  4. Scaling Readiness: An Approach to Assess and Accelerate Scaling of Innovations
  5. Social network analysis approach for guiding and leveraging R4D investments
  6. Social network analysis of multistakeholder platforms: Opportunities and constraints for innovation and scaling PLoS ONE 12(2): e0169634.


Scaling Readiness generated evidence on the scalability of innovations in the CGIAR portfolio. It presented the scalability of each component of the ACAI and Community Phytosanitation projects and guided them to focus on the challenges that hinder the use of technologies and other innovations at scale.


Scaling Readiness aims to provide support to IITA initiatives and provide them with evidence and decision support tools to develop and implement evidence-based scaling strategies. It also aims to use state-of-the-art social science methods, such as social network analysis and content analysis for publishing evidence about scaling the interventions IITA has been coordinating and its contribution to the transformation of African agriculture.

Posted on November 2, 2018 in Ensuring Impact and Delivery

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