Regional congress marks the end of the FoodSTART+ journey

Roots and tubers (RTCs) are notably versatile crops with various uses in the agriculture and food sectors and in climate change resilience and recovery efforts. After Typhoon Haiyan passed over the Philippines in 2013, cassava and sweetpotato were the first crops distributed and planted for food relief and rehabilitation.

However, despite this proven value, RTCs are often overlooked and undervalued.

With this idea in mind, concerned scientists and agriculture extension professionals, policy makers, the private sector, development practitioners, farmers’ organizations and donors met for the regional congress ‘Root and Tuber Crops for Food Security and Climate Change Resilience in Asia’ in Quezon City, Philippines, in October 2019 to discuss policies, approaches and innovations for promoting RTCs to support climate change resilience among farming households in Asia. More than 100 participants from around South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands attended.

The scientists shared findings and recommendations to further scale up the innovations of FoodSTART+, a research project funded by the European Union (EU) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). FoodSTART+ is a research grant funded by the EU and IFAD which partnered with five large-scale IFAD investments in the Philippines, India, Indonesia and Vietnam to enhance food resilience in upland and coastal communities, the most vulnerable to climate change, through RTC innovations.

The Congress consisted of four parts: 1) plenary sessions on breeding, agronomy, pest and disease management, and contribution of roots and tubers to the resilience of agri-food systems; 2) a knowledge and learning fair that showcased innovations in seed systems, postharvest practices, and product development from selected organizations; 3) roundtable discussions; and 4) field visits to Pampanga to demonstrate successful experiences with cultivation, processing and contractual arrangements for cassava and sweetpotato.

Through this Congress, it is expected that researchers, extension workers, policy makers, the private sector, development practitioners, farmers’ organizations, donors, media practitioners, and the general public have gained a better understanding, greater awareness, and increased appreciation of RTCs and their benefits in addressing societal issues, including food security and climate change resilience.

Organized by the International Potato Center (CIP) and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) in collaboration with Philippine Root Crop Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops) of the Visayas State University (VSU), the Congress was sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the European Union (EU).

The highlights of the Congress can be accessed here.