iREACH Holds Pioneer Advisory Committee Meeting

Dakar, April 7, 2021  The first-ever Advisory Committee meeting of the Innovation, Research, Extension, and Advisory Coordination Hub (iREACH) holds on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. 

iREACH is a novel research coordination tool designed to organize, in the pilot phase, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded research activities in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Senegal.

The Advisory Committee, made up of seven members, has as primary mission the initiative’s strategic guidance. Three key issues are expected to be discussed and approved at this inaugural meeting. This includes:

  1. The terms of reference of the Advisory Committee;
  2. The composition and operationalization of the technology parks;
  3. The launching date of iREACH.


iREACH originated from a long-standing desire by USAID food system research actors to better align their West Africa activities. The food system research actors in West Africa include a myriad of actors. For a bilateral development agency such as USAID, it ranges from the West Africa Regional Mission based in Accra, Ghana, to country missions of USAID, to a vast network of innovation labs. They have generated hundreds of technologies over the years that are not often known to end-users (farmers and producers).

“Besides the insufficient knowledge about the existence of our technologies, these organizations often work in silos and an unconnected manner,” argues Dr. Jerry Glover, a Senior Sustainable Agricultural Systems Advisor in USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security. 

“iREACH takes it a step further, breaking down the silos, encouraging synergies, reducing duplications, scaling up research outputs, and hopefully achieving better food and nutritional security outcomes in West Africa,” says Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, Executive Director of CORAF.

iREACH uses an innovatory model known as technology parks to promote innovations in West Africa. These parks to be set up strategically in the CORAF/ECOWAS National Centers of Specialization would target decision-makers, businesses, civil society, students, youths, women and other key actors. 

Promoters of this initiative include notably CORAF (host) and the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab (SIIL) at Kansas State University (KSU). While the first four years may be focused on coordinating USAID-funded activities, it is expected to expand progressively to include other development agencies in West Africa.

“This is an excellent initiative which will help with coordination, capacity building and outreach of key innovations in the region and I am looking forward to working with the committee and all our partners and team members” said Dr. Vara Prasad, Director and Distinguished Professor, SIIL and inaugural Chair of the Advisory Committee of iREACH.

Soon after the Advisory Committee meeting, iREACH actors would pivot to the effective implementation of agreed activities. A four-year work plan containing an integrated set of coordination, technology parks, and capacity development activities have been discussed and agreed upon already by actors.

What is SIIL?

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL) was established in 2014 at Kansas State University with the support from the USAID. The SIIL aims to become the global leader in transdisciplinary research, knowledge sharing, and capacity building, using sustainable intensification as a way to improve global food and nutritional security. This vision is supported by the associated Digital and Geospatial Tools Consortium at Kansas State University, the Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Policy Research Consortium at Rutgers University, and the SOILS Consortium with the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). The current focus countries are Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Senegal (past countries include Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi and Tanzania). The iREACH program will initially focus on Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Niger.

What is CORAF?

CORAF is a coordination tool among West and Central African countries, promoting sustainable food increases, family farmers’ competitiveness, and free inter and intra-regional trade. Established in 1987, CORAF comprises a vast network of institutions belonging to national agricultural research systems, from which it draws its mandate to act on their behalf. With a membership from more than 23 countries in West and Central Africa, CORAF is the largest sub-regional research coordination organization in Africa. Regional Economic Communities such as the ECOWAS, UEMOA, ECCAS, and CEMAC have cooperative agreements, permitting CORAF to advance its agriculture priorities from a science and innovations perspective. CORAF has a track record of results that have earned the trust of the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Union, Swiss Cooperation, AusAid, JICA, Global Affairs Canada, and other multilateral and bilateral institutions, which are its primary funders.

Read more about iREACH

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