The International Potato Center’s (CIP) strategy and corporate plan for the period 2014-2023 aims to strengthen its response to the major challenges facing the world by enhancing the impact of its research for development. The plan builds on an institutional change process that was initiated by CIP’s board of trustees in late 2012. It, in turn builds on a major change process within the CGIAR—the umbrella body for 15 international research centers—initiated in 2008. At the heart of the new CGIAR is a Strategy and Results Framework with aspirational targets that feed into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Driven by impact

The key driver behind revising CIP’s strategic focus was the need to ensure that our research for development achieves the desired impacts. It was not enough to undertake research for development, however excellent, develop solutions, however promising, and simply assume they would be implemented. CIP and other international agricultural research centers needed to ensure that the promising solutions they developed were adopted at scale and had a significant impact. This did not mean that CIP and the other centers would do everything. It meant that they would identify viable adoption pathways and systematically engage with the partners needed to implement them. Those collaborations had to go beyond CIP’s largely sciencebased partnerships to include much more prominent roles for development partners and the private sector.

Above all, CIP must show that, together with its partners, it is enhancing food and nutrition security, generating inclusive growth and helping climate change adaption, all at scale with the benefits reaching vulnerable and marginalized groups. And all this must be done with a greatly increased sense of urgency as the global population approaches 9 billion and climate change intensifies many of the challenges facing the planet.

The first five years: a review

The first five years of the 2014-2023 strategic plan began to articulate how CIP would respond to this changing environment. The plan addressed the central question: how do we enhance our impact? It recognized the need to balance three different types of activities: delivery of relatively quick wins based on scaling proven technologies; discovery-phase research that was riskier but could produce game-changing solutions in the longer term (10 years plus); and managing the CIP genebank to enable the utilization of global potato and sweetpotato collections. At its core were six strategic objectives: three focused on scaling up proven technologies; two on more upstream research; and one focused on the genebank.

The new approach has already delivered some encouraging results. For example, during this period, CIP and partners helped improve the diets—and in many cases the incomes—of more than five million households in Africa and Asia by scaling up adoption of nutritious and resilient orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) varieties. The revised plan aims to build on this and other successes.

The revised strategy and corporate plan 2014–23

The revised plan is not completely new. Rather it includes a small number of carefully considered changes. These include the:

  • Revision of the mission and vision to better reflect the CIP’s priorities in a changing environment.
  • Addition of three new core institutional goals—to strengthen alignment with the SDGs.
  • Reduction in the number of strategic objectives from six to four—with the intention of increasing the productivity and effectiveness of CIP’s work.
  • Identification of specific research products within these objectives—to facilitate targeted investment in research-for-development products to achieve specified outcomes.
  • Addition of regional visions—to tailor CIP’s work to the specific opportunities and challenges in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Three new core institutional goals

To strengthen alignment with the SDGs, CIP has defined three new core institutional goals. These goals have been directly shaped by some of the megatrends and challenges facing the world today: undernutrition (SDG 2 and 3), underemployment of women and young people (SDG 1, 5 and 8), climate change (SDG 13), and the need for sustainable intensification of agri-food systems and conservation of agrobiodiversity (SDG 15).

Goal 1: Improved food and nutritional security through the introduction of healthier diets to vulnerable populations (women, and young and displaced people)

With more than 800 million people, particularly women and children under 5 years of age, suffering from hidden hunger—insufficient consumption of essential micronutrients—the challenge to feed and nourish the world is daunting. However, the potential of potato and sweetpotato to effectively and efficiently address food and nutrition security challenges in agri-food systems is extremely promising. Raising potato and sweetpotato yields and access to crop diversity, including biofortified varieties, coupled with reductions in post-harvest losses in developing countries can increase the supply of nutrientrich foods for farming family consumption and markets, particularly during the ‘hunger periods’ when other foods are scarce.

Fewer, better targeted and more measurable strategic objectives

To achieve these goals, CIP will focus on just four strategic objectives. Though based on the six objectives of the original 2014–23 plan, these are better articulated and, in most cases, have clearer targets to track progress more easily, thereby enhancing accountability.

Objective 1: Improve health-related outcomes from and profitability of agri-food systems with sweetpotato

Between 2019 and 2023, CIP aims to reach a further 10 million resource‐poor households in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean with sweetpotato, enabling them to improve their dietary quality and raise their crop incomes by 15%. This will be achieved through increased production and consumption of vitamin A-rich OFSP varieties, diversified use of sweetpotato, and scaling of gender‐equitable value chains. Over the next five years, CIP also expects to make new biofortified sweetpotato varieties—including some with high iron content— available for proof-of-concept research and subsequent scaling out. These will be promoted using an approach similar to the one successfully employed for OFSP.


CIP will develop and deliver research-for-development (R4D) products to achieve the specific objectives described above. For this to happen, CIP will organize its work within three global programs: Sweetpotato Agri-Food Systems, Potato Agri-Food Systems, and Biodiversity for the Future. The work will be implemented in accordance with CIP regional strategies and the active involvement of disciplinary scientific teams.

Details on the research-for-development products for each program can be found on