Accelerating genetic enhancement

In the face of demographic shifts and climate change, increasing food supplies for resource-poor populations is an urgent priority. Farmers, especially those in developing countries, need to produce reliable, profitable, and healthful crops and, at the same time, reduce their dependence on costly, harmful pesticides.

CIP’s genetic enhancement program focuses on developing, sharing, and applying genetic science and interdisciplinary experience to ensure the presence of varieties that meet the changing needs of small-scale farmers and are adaptable to diverse farming systems. In addition, it includes a greater focus on meeting the growing consumer demands for healthier foods, richer in micronutrients, and diversified diets. The Program provides the global research outputs to help sustain and build breeding capacity and products in specific agro-ecologies, while also providing materials and knowledge of high relevance to the broader scientific community.

CIP’s root and tuber crop scientists develop, share, and apply new genetic information, technologies, and interdisciplinary experience in an effort to develop environmentally sound root and tuber crop varieties. The new varieties need to be robust and perform well under the conditions in which small-scale farmers grow their crops. They also need to meet consumer demands for healthier food and more diversified diets. CIP’s efforts aim to provide the research products and tools needed to build and sustain greater breeding capacity in national programs, produce market-worthy products derived from a wide range of agro-ecologies, and provide superior materials and knowledge for the broader scientific community.

Using genetic enhancement, CIP staff and partners work to assure the durability of pathogen resistance in new varieties, improve productivity with less water and accommodate trends toward more intensive cropping patterns.

The complex genetic nature of potato and sweetpotato complicate the integration of productivity and protective traits with quality and nutritional features. This challenge requires innovative strategies that support timely, informed decision-making during population improvement.

Key objectives of CIP’s genetic enhancement program include:

1. Develop the knowledge and tools needed to develop stable yielding potatoes that generate greater income and improved product and nutritional quality.

2. Develop knowledge and tools for producing improved sweetpotato cultivars that improve human health, generate income and provide food and animal feed.

3. Devise innovative methods and schemes to breed vegetatively propagated crops.

4. Improve under-utilized root and tuber crops such as Pachyrhizus spp. (Ahipa) for use in new food products.

5. Build capacity in targeted agro-ecologies and encourage the applications of improved breeding tools and associated technologies.

6. Develop gene technologies, with minimum restrictions on use, for breeding programs.