RTB are consumed as a staple or supplementary food by the rural poor across much of the developing world. They enter in the transition to more market-based food systems, especially through added value products, both fresh and processed.
Bulkiness and perishability have traditionally limited RTB use to on-farm and local markets. Specialized storage conditions or postharvest processing are required to extend use beyond harvest periods and for more distant markets.
There is considerable scope for repositioning RTB as added-value cash crops by expanding their use for processing and through the sale of preferred varieties and products to satisfy emerging markets, particularly in urban areas.
Product portfolios for this theme will focus on:
- Postharvest approaches to improve food security
- Improving linkages to markets for environmentally-friendly income-generation activities
- Marketing strategies and policies to add value and promote RTB consumption
Improving chain efficiency needs to be complemented by a focus on equity to ensure that the rural poor (either producers or processors) can participate fairly in expanding value chains to improve incomes and livelihoods. Equally, inefficient use of water and other inputs, process wastes, and sub-optimal use of residues reduce chain efficiency and result in environmental pollution. It is essential to develop and integrate specific technological innovations and also support improved efficiency (economic and resource use) and equity of value chains for RTBs.
The figure below shows the impact pathways envisaged for Theme 6: