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The RTB Toolbox: Building a better seed future, together

Building sustained capacity for using the tools and applying new knowledge in designing seed systems

Root, tuber and banana crops are the foundation of tropical food security.  But their seed systems are complex and widely informal. The seed is bulky, expensive to transport, spoils easily, and can harbor health problems from viruses to weevils. These challenges must be overcome in order to improve agricultural productivity and feed the world in an uncertain future. 

Off the successful launch of the RTB Toolbox earlier this year, we are very pleased to bring you a three-day workshop focused on the individual tools designed to help farmers, researchers and extension workers build and develop stronger seed systems for RTB crops.  

This workshop is the first series of two. The second set of workshops will take place October 26, 28 and 29 and include participation of several national teams who will share their experience (and results) of using these tools in field work under real life conditions.  

Language: English simultaneous translation to Spanish and French available.


July 26,28,29
15:00-17:00 (EAT; GMT+3)


Viviana Infantas


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Conny Almekinders

Conny Almekinders is Associate Professor at the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation group, Department of Social Sciences of Wageningen University. She obtained a PhD from the same university, based on her potato crop physiology research carried out at CIP, in Peru. She worked for many years on issues related to seed systems and farmers’ management of plant genetic resources, including participatory plant breeding and in situ conservation. In this time her shift in focus from plants to farmers, the interaction between them and with scientists has brought her into socio-technical studies of agriculture. She moved to Wageningen University in 2000. She teaches and supervises MSc students in the broader field of science and technology studies and inter/trans-disciplinary approaches, including her favorite one, action research. She has supervised 19 PhD researchers and has a broad international network. Currently she collaborates with CGIAR Research Programs Root, Tuber and Banana, Maize and Wheat; she enjoys a NWO grant to support this work. She is one of the Senior Editors of interdisciplinary scientific journal Food Security.  

Associate Professor
Wageningen University

Jorge Andrade-Piedra

Jorge Andrade-Piedra is a plant pathologist at the International Potato Center (CIP) and the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB). He specializes in potato seed systems and late blight epidemiology with more than 20 years of experience in the Andes and in several countries in Africa and Asia. Jorge holds a PhD in Plant Pathology from Cornell University in New York. 

Plant Pathologist
International Potato Center

Jeff Bentley

Jeff Bentley is an agricultural anthropologist (PhD, University of Arizona). He has worked with farmers and agricultural scientists from El Zamorano, CABI, Access Agriculture, RTB, and others. Jeff is especially interested in innovations, plant health and seed systems. Jeff has documented cassava seed systems in Nigeria, for RTB, and has published peer-reviewed articles on the Stakeholder Framework, the BASICS project, and the ENDURE project. He co-edited the RTB book Case Studies of Roots, Tubers and Bananas Seed Systems and recently edited the Users’ Guides and Description Sheets for the RTB Seed Systems Toolbox. Jeff Bentley lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia. 

Agricultural Anthropologist
CGIAR Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas

Erik Delaquis

Erik Delaquis is a Senior Research associate based in Lao PDR, where he works with the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT focusing on cassava seed systems throughout Southeast Asia. Erik has an M.Sc. in plant science from MGill University, 15 years of experience in agricultural research and developmentHe is also a PhD candidate at Wageningen University. 

Senior Research Associate
Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT

Karen A. Garrett

Karen A. Garrett is in the Plant Pathology Department, Food Systems Institute, and Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida. Her work addresses epidemiology, systems analysis, and analyses for decision support, including machine learning approaches.  Recent work includes analysis of strengths and vulnerabilities of crop seed systems, adaptation strategies for global change, and corresponding crop breeding networks. Other work addresses the translation of microbiome analyses for improved agricultural management.  Garrett is on the editorial committee for the Annual Review of Phytopathology, recent Senior Editor for Phytopathology, and an elected AAAS Fellow. More information is available at her lab website: garrettlab.com. 

Preeminent Professor
University of Florida

Fleur Kilwinger

Fleur Kilwinger is a PhD candidate at the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation group, Department of Social Sciences of Wageningen University, where she previously earned a master’s degree in Plant Sciences. She has a bachelor’s degree ‘Applied Biology’ at the University of Applied Sciences (HAS) in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, NetherlandsAs part of her PhD, she collaborates with RTB and one of the NWO-CGIAR Seed System Development projects: Cassava Agribusiness Seed Systems (CASS) in Rwanda and Burundi. One of the main objectives of her PhD research is to test, evaluate, and improve research methods to understand seed systems.  

PhD Candidate
Wageningen University

Lava Kumar

Lava Kumar works as Head of the Germplasm Health and Virology at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria. His research program targets virus diseases affecting banana, cassava, cowpea, maize, soybean and yam in sub-Saharan Africa. Research includes: virus characterization; development of versatile diagnostic tools for disease surveillance, phenotyping and seed health certification; and establishment of integrated measures to control of plant virus diseases, including host resistance. One of his research thrusts is on using clean planting material to control virus diseases of vegetatively propagated crops such as banana, cassava and yam. This includes understanding biophysical, sociological and policy influences on seed production, seed distribution and seed quality (degeneration), and translating learnings into improved seed systems. His research program developed ‘Seed Tracker’, a comprehensive ICT tool for monitoring seed flow and seed quality along the seed value chain. 

Head of Germplasm Health and Virology
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

Margaret McEwan

Margaret McEwan is a Senior Scientist at the International Potato Center’s regional office for Africa, based in Kenya. A social scientist, Margaret has over 30 years’ experience working in multi-disciplinary teams focused on rural development, farming systems research, household food security and nutrition in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, North Sudan, Zambia and Mozambique. In research for development contexts she is concerned with how to engage multi-stakeholder partnerships in ensuring improved livelihood and nutrition outcomes, and in understanding the conditions required to scale up technologies for greater impact. She has a MSc in Human Nutrition and is currently pursuing a PhD at Wageningen University and Research, in the Netherlands, focusing on the social-technical interactions which influence the institutional arrangements for sustainable sweetpotato seed systems. 

Senior Scientist
International Potato Center

Lucy Mulugo

Lucy Mulugo is a Lecturer at Makerere University, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, School of Agricultural Sciences, in the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies. She holds a PhD in Agricultural and Rural Innovations (from Makerere University) based on her enquiry of how the biotechnology generated tissue culture banana plantlets fit the socio-cultural context of banana production in central Uganda. She joined Makerere University in August, 2005. She teaches and supervises students on agricultural and environmental related programs at the University. Her research interests are largely in areas of indigenous knowledge and traditional farming systems, food security, gender and natural resource management and agricultural innovation systems. She has over 10 articles in refereed journals. Dr. Mulugo is also a member to the Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (UFAAS) and The African Youth Forum on Science and Technology- Uganda Chapter.

Makerere University

Jason Nickerson

Sr. Program Manager
Context Global Development

Srinivasulu Rajendran

Srinivasulu Rajendran (Srini) has completed PhD in Agricultural Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India. He is an Agricultural Economist at International Potato Center (CIP) and his workstation is based at Kampala, Uganda. At CIP, he is working on several projects focusing on sweetpotato and potato seed system. During these projects, Rajendran working with National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) and other partners in various countries in Eastern, Western and Southern African to strengthen early generation seed production and seed businesses. He also provides inputs to the Monitoring & Evaluation team at CIP to develop and implement impact assessments in the field. Prior to joining CIP in 2008, he worked with several other CGIAR centers. He was also consultant with UN organizations between 2006-2008. Rajendran specializes in seed system, consumer analysis, value chain analysis, social entrepreneurship, cost benefit analysis, impact assessments and digital agriculture. 

Agricultural Economist
International Potato Center

Graham Thiele

Graham Thiele is Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB) led by the International Potato Center (CIP). He has led the RTB program for the last 10 years, making it an example of collaborative research for development in the CGIAR. Graham is a social scientist and expert in targeting, priority setting, and impact and adoption studies of new agricultural technologies. Previously he was the Leader for Social and Health Sciences at CIP. Graham has worked in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Tanzania, Kenya, Benin, Rwanda, Indonesia, and the Philippines. He helped develop, implement, and assess several novel participatory methods designed to link farmers with markets, inform research agendas, and promote innovation in policies, products, and technology uptake. Graham holds a PhD in Social Anthropology and an MSc in Agricultural Economics. 

CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB)

The RTB Toolbox: Building a better seed future, together