January 4, 2012.
Two-hundred million poor farmers in developing countries use roots, tubers, and bananas (RTBs) for food security and income. But they don’t fully benefit from the potential of these nutritious, resilient, and versatile crops. They are constrained by challenges such as poor quality seed, stresses from climate change, and poor management practices.
Roots, Tubers, and Bananas for Food Security and Income is a joint initiative of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to address these challenges more globally and efficiently. As one of the newest CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), it is led by the International Potato Center (CIP) in collaboration with Bioversity International, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). To enhance the research, reach, and impacts of the program it also works directly with extensive networks of partners and stakeholders.
Roots, tubers, and bananas are among the 10 most consumed food crops in the world. They provide cheap sources of energy and key nutrients, and up to 60 percent of daily calories. RTBs offer great potential for higher yields and increased system productivity as these diverse crops can grow in marginal areas, in rotation, or inter-cropped with grains or other crops. This means more food, more efficient systems, and more diversity to reduce risks of food shortages and nutritional shortfalls.
RTBs are often grown by poor women and in remote regions. Enhanced productivity and access to value market chains can improve lives and opportunities for these small-scale producers and their communities, increasing gender equity and reaching some of the poorest of the poor in developing countries. As well, RTBs are relatively insulated from global price fluctuations. They can buffer against market shocks and serve as crisis mitigation crops.
Important scientific commonalities link these crops. They are genetically complex and clonally propagated (grown from plant cuttings), not grown from seed. They also share many similarities—and challenges—in crop management, seed systems, and breeding strategies. Roots, Tubers, and Bananas for Food Security and Income prioritizes a participative stakeholder strategy. During the design phase of the program, researchers from the four CGIAR centers engaged with 255 stakeholders, across three continents to ensure that that research and program components are based on real needs and opportunities to ultimately improve its outcomes and impacts.
“Roots, tubers, and bananas are not usually well positioned within policy and agricultural extension services, as decision makers do not have a full appreciation of their true importance,” commented one of the stakeholders from an African NGO.
With the launching of this new program, the position of Roots, Tubers and Bananas will undoubtedly gain more ground.
Key program areas
- Conservation/access to genetic resources
- Breeding more robust, high-yielding varieties
- Managing pests and diseases
- Making available low-cost, high-quality planting material for farmers
- Developing tools for more productive, ecologically robust cropping systems
- Improving post-harvest technologies, value chains, and market opportunities
- Partnerships for better impacts
For more information, please visit:https://sites.google.com/a/cgxchange.org/roots-tubers-bananas/home