2017 was a notable year for the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB). It marked the start-up of Phase II, where we significantly accelerated the scaling of the diverse set of innovations developed since the program’s inception in 2012. This is supported by a flagship project (Flagship 5), which is facilitating the design and implementation of strategies for scaling innovations to achieve the greatest possible impact. One of the mechanisms created for this is the RTB Scaling Fund, which in 2017 awarded its first grants to three teams of scientists engaged in bringing to scale: 1) an approach, known as single diseased-stem removal, for controlling the banana disease BXW; 2) a method for conserving sweetpotato roots to produce planting material known as Triple S; and 3) a technology for turning cassava peels into an ingredient of animal feed. 

Likewise, we have seen the impact that the breeding of improved root, tuber and banana varieties – a core part of our program since its onset –  has had through RTB-supported adoption studies. This report explores, amongst others, the adoption of improved potato varieties with provenance from the International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru.  

In 2017, RTB launched the CGIAR Gender and Breeding Initiative with a generous grant from the CGIAR System Management Office and CGIAR Funders. The Initiative brought together plant and animal breeders and social scientists to develop a strategy for gender-responsive breeding with supporting methods, tools and practices. An important result generated was the ‘decision checklist’, a tool that provides a practical guide for plant and animal breeding programs to become more gender-responsive. 
Digital innovations contributed in reaching significant achievements for more effective virus surveillance. The use of artificial intelligence and mobile devices to develop image-based cassava disease detection tools has shown to be effective for cassava mosaic disease, cassava brown streak disease, and other emergent and persistent important diseases of root, tuber and banana crops. An RTB team led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture teamed up with Penn State University to win the INSPIRE award from the CGIAR Platform on Big Data in Agriculture and expand this work to other crops. 

We thank all our partners and donors for their contributions to get Phase II off to a great start with enhanced trust and collaboration, which bodes well for future impact.

    CIP Director General

    RTB Program Director