The core and flagship of this SO are resilient, nutritious OFSP varieties that are adapted to the local environment, perform well, and meet consumer taste preferences (Fig. 1). Locally important traits include virus and drought resistance, vine survival, high dry matter, low sugar, salinity tolerance, weevil resistance or avoidance, and early maturity. We will continue to use the sweetpotato genetic resource base by working with the CIP genebank and regional germplasm facilities. We will add unique sweetpotato landraces and other accessions to these genebanks as a way to expand the genetic foundation for future crop improvements in target countries. Flagship OFSP varieties, however, can only achieve broad impacts at scale if they are connected to several linked products. First-level research products are those that enable users from R&D sectors to use OFSP effectively, develop further specific products and services, and disseminate these to farmers and other stakeholders.
- Accelerated breeding methods and tools. Advances in breeding technology will be applied consistently to accelerate and improve the development of parent populations and nationally released varieties of biofortified OFSP and other nutritious sweetpotato. New discoveries generated under SO 4 could possibly be taken up in the future. National partners will adapt these methodologies and use parents from CIP’s population development programs; linkages with seed systems and farmers demand will be strengthened.
- Seed systems approaches, technologies, and diagnostic tools. We will develop innovative approaches to upgrading informal seed systems and
commercially oriented systems whenever possible, in major OFSP value chains and with an emphasis on women’s involvement. For sustainable expansion of OFSP and other sweetpotato production, we will undertake operational research on incentive frameworks to initiate and scale-up market demand for quality planting materials under different value chain conditions. This effort will be supported by new technologies to enhance vine multiplication and conservation. We will develop improved diagnostic tools for affordable and effective quality control in decentralized seed systems.
- Options for sustainable OFSP intensification. We will enable both women and men farmers to realize the full production potential of OFSP in different agro-ecologies by developing and testing improved agronomic practices (e.g., small-scale irrigation for vine conservation, soil enhancement, and intercropping). Adapting to climate change effects in drier and flood-prone production zones will receive special attention. Where crop-livestock integration is important, we will develop sustainable options for use of dual-purpose OFSP varieties in animal feeds (fresh vines, silage, reject roots) and human nutrition, which will be carried out in conjunction with Dryland Systems and Humidtropics CRPs.
- Evidence base for nutrition and behavior change approaches. An up-to-date evidence base, built in partnership with nutrition and social research institutions, will capture nutritional values and benefits and consumer acceptance of increasing numbers of OFSP varieties, including roots and leaves, and OFSP-based products. The evidence base will encompass diverse nutrition and food consumption scenarios, under different market and social circumstances, and will include evidence of changing behaviors of consumers, caregivers, farmers, and traders. The evidence base will provide data and guidance for policy dialogue, advocacy, and design of nutrition training and behavior change initiatives.
- Models and technologies for upgrading OFSP value chains. We will develop process models, technologies, and implementation tools for integrating OFSP into multiple value chains, ranging from community‐based nutrition/agriculture and school-feeding programs to higher-value urban market chains for bakery products and healthy-choice snack food. We will pay close attention to the organoleptic acceptability of an increasing range of sweetpotato products in different markets and dietary contexts. The technical and organizational tools we develop will enable stakeholders to better manage the perishability of OFSP roots and position OFSP as a healthy food for all in the market place and create new options for more diversified utilization of sweetpotato.
- Partnership models and policy options for going to scale. Research on partnerships and policies that can support large-scale use of OFSP will generate organizational models and guidelines, metrics for measuring effectiveness and efficiency of scaling up agriculture–nutrition linkages, and evidence-based policy recommendations to support this expansion. These research products will inform policy, investment planning, and development forums on agriculture and nutrition at the national to global levels.
We will involve research partners, next-users, and, where appropriate, farmers in the creation of linked products. We will help improve their access to these products and strengthen their capacity to use them effectively and equitably by fostering linkages with agriculture and nutrition through an expanding network of “support platforms.” We will engage with regional research and nutrition initiatives that can provide training, technology dissemination, and knowledge management services to national OFSP campaigns.