Agricultural research needs to address problems that are biophysically, agro-ecologically, and socio-economically diverse and complex at multiple scales, namely crop, cropping system, household, community, region, national and global. With this challenge in mind, the Program attempts to develop and apply methods and tools that will help to design research and development interventions that consider the complexity and dynamism of current systems.
Potato and sweetpotato cropping systems are located in poverty belts and pockets of extreme poverty that are characterized by their extreme vulnerability to natural stresses and external factors that are beyond the capacity of local people to address using existing technology. As we move into an uncertain future – a period that will be marked by energy and water shortages, climate change, globalization, and newly emerging pests and diseases – the vulnerability of smallholder farmers will increase.
The research focus of this global program will be, therefore, to develop tools for assessing and understanding potential shocks and vulnerabilities in potato- and sweetpotato-based livelihood systems, which could help to get the full benefit for small scale farmers from the genetic materials that CIP develops. The development challenge is to support the system’s capacity to buffer shock and help people adapt to changes. As multiple linkages exist between agriculture and human health, agricultural research offers opportunities to enhance human wellbeing through targeted interventions and minimize risks to human health that often accompany agricultural interventions developed by industrial and corporate forms of agriculture.
Finally, research on partnerships, markets and policy provides guidelines for implementing and monitoring partnerships, promoting innovation and market opportunities, developing strategic capacity and assessing outcomes of value chain interventions.