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Yuca colombiana, modelo de interés para Uganda

La delegación estuvo conformada por seis personas que demandaron información en temas como variabilidad genética y variedad de yuca fresca, selección varietal de la yuca con agricultores de la altillanura colombiana y la cadena de valor de este cultivo en Colombia.

“Estamos en el CIAT para adquirir e intercambiar conocimientos de los colegas asociados y aunar capacidades a futuro. Queremos aprender sobre nuevas metodologías y poder adaptarlas en Uganda”, dijo Kelly Wanda, del Instituto Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (IITA).

La agenda para este intercambio de conocimientos incluyó una sesión informativa del CIAT por parte de algunos colegas de diferentes programas y una visita a los Llanos Orientales. Según Dominique Dufour, ingeniero agroindustrial y de procesos del programa de yuca del CIAT, los investigadores africanos “aprendieron a evaluar el deterioro poscosecha y conocieron el proceso en el cual las raíces de yuca perecen rápidamente (tres días) después de la cosecha, en un proceso conocido como el deterioro fisiológico poscosecha (PPD, por sus siglas en inglés)”.

Durante su visita a campo en los Llanos, los investigadores conocieron la preparación de suelos y cultivo en caballones, el manejo de abonos como herbicidas y pesticidas, la cosecha para la selección de raíces y de estacas para siembra futura, el tratamiento de lavado, secado y poscosecha, el descopado o poda, proceso en el cual se cortan las ramas una semana antes de la cosecha para favorecer la conservación de la raíz.

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También, realizaron un viaje a Bogotá para conocer el circuito de comercialización de las raíces frescas lavadas y los canales de distribución a mercados y supermercados, aprendieron de selección de yuca fresca para el proceso de pelado y distribución de trozos para chips, congelados y croquetas.

“Ellos se fueron con una imagen de optimización desde el campo hasta el consumidor final que les pareció bastante interesante para pensar en un modelo en África para abastecer a Kampala, que es la capital económica de Uganda. Su labor es diseñar una propuesta para montar una cadena de valor de yuca fresca en este país. Se llevan una imagen muy abierta de Colombia de intercambiar ideas, trasladan los conocimientos del modelo de la planta de parafinado para construir una allá”, puntualizó Dominique.

Por su parte, Jorge Luís Luna, asistente de investigación del programa de yuca, aseguró que “los visitantes también recibieron capacitación en CIAT en deterioro poscosecha y se quedaron muy sorprendidos de la simplicidad de la maquinaria. Se fueron con la idea de que es muy fácil hacerlo en Uganda”.

Cerca de concluir la visita, Harriet Muyinza, de Laboratorios Nacionales de Investigación Agrícola, Kawanda, expresó que “el equipo se sintió muy feliz con la cálida bienvenida y excelente organización. Gracias a los esfuerzos para desplegar esta visita, estos jóvenes científicos podrán hacer un gran trabajo para la industria de la yuca en África”.

La visita es el resultado del trabajo de un proyecto liderado por el CIAT en el que colaboran el Centro Internacional de la papa (CIP), el Centro de Cooperación Internacional en Investigación Agronómica para el Desarrollo (CIRAD), el Instituto Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (IITA, por sus siglas en inglés) y el Programa de Investigación de CGIAR en Raíces, Tubérculos y Banano (RTB, por sus siglas en inglés).

Ver la galería de fotos sobre la visita

RTB published 2014 Annual Report

Envisioning Impact: Pathways to Action

RTB presents its 2014 Annual Report – Envisioning Impact: Pathways to Action. The report documents important progress on an array of initiatives during the Research Program’s third year. These include efforts to identify the genetic mechanisms behind key root, tuber and banana traits, and to harness that information for next-generation breeding; collaborative research and training to improve the containment and management of critical diseases and pests affecting RTB crops; and various innovations to improve the storage, processing and commercialization of those crops. Many of these initiatives were strengthened by gender responsive research, as RTB moved forward on mainstreaming gender across its work. We are proud of all that was accomplished under the RTB umbrella in 2014 and we are working hard to improve the planning, management, monitoring and evaluation of our research for development, in order to make the greatest possible contribution to improving food security, nutrition and livelihoods.

Download a PDF of the report here

RTB Workshop: Building an economically sustainable and integrated cassava seed system in Nigeria

27-28th April 2015- Ibadan, Nigeria. The RTB workshop on Building an economically sustainable and integrated cassava seed system in Nigeria was held at IITA Ibadan and was organized by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The workshop brought together more than 40 stakeholders working in the cassava seed value chain in Nigeria in order to develop a consensus for and contribute to the program design of an economically sustainable and integrated cassava seed system in Nigeria. Nigeria is the world’s largest cassava producer yet yields have been far below there potential despite the official release of more than 40 improved cassava varieties over the last two decades and a highly developed cassava processing industry. A more commercially oriented and integrated cassava seed system will facilitate access and adoption of new varieties and the use of more productive cassava planting material and result in higher yields, unit productivity, and incomes.

The objectives of the workshop were to:

  • To establish a consensus on the rationale for and main outcomes from an economically sustainable and integrated cassava seed system in Nigeria.
  • To identify and prioritize key bottlenecks and proposed solutions for each component in the cassava seed system by drawing on stakeholder experience, knowledge, and perspective.
  • To discuss proposed value chains, geographic zones, and business models.
  • To present roles and activities for each lead partner.
  • To identify outcomes / deliverables and key performance indicators per objective.
  • To outline next steps and time frame for proposal development.

Workshop participants included breeders, foundation and commercial seed producers, seed regulatory agencies, cassava processing companies, farmers, and researchers. A key outcome of this two day workshop was to identify and prioritize key bottlenecks and proposed solutions for each component in the cassava seed system by drawing on stakeholder experience, knowledge, and perspective.

The proposal development process is underway with an expected submission date of July 2015 and program commencement in January 2016.

RTB centers and partners prepare to battle Banana Bunchy Top Disease across Sub-Saharan Africa

Approximately 50 experts from 20 countries have gathered in Bujumbura, Burundi this week to coordinate an ambitious effort to contain the spread of Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) in Africa and help farmers to recover from the devastation that disease has wrought.

BBTD has spread rapidly across Southern Africa in recent decades, and more recently into West Africa, destroying the productivity of countless hectares of banana and plantain. The disease is caused by a virus that is spread via infected planting material or by an aphid (Pentalonia nigronervosa), which is common in the continent’s banana producing regions. BBTD has been reported in 14 African countries, and 35 countries in the world, but scientists suspect that it might have begun to spread into additional African nations.

BBTV map

BBTD has spread rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa during the past decade

Bioversity International, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) have consequently partnered with other international organizations, the private sector and institutions in the affected countries to implemented an RTB-funded project called “BBTD containment and recovery: building capacity and piloting field recovery approaches through a learning alliance.” Participants in the Bujumbura workshop will plan the project’s activities at eight action sites in different countries and agroecologies, general awareness raising and other efforts.

Lava Kumar, a virologist who heads the IITA’s Germplasm Health Unit, explained that one of the biggest challenges of BBTD is that infected plants initially show no symptoms, and by the time the leaves begin to bunch up, the crop has been lost and the virus may well have spread to other farms. This has facilitated the disease’s spread into new regions and across international borders, and has resulted in a generally slow response to a serious threat to food security and livelihoods. Kumar explained that RTB’s support has helped to raise interest and awareness about this ‘insidious disease’ and collaboration of various organizations to control it.

“I have been working on BBTD since 2008, and there has been a huge change in terms of awareness and concern about the disease. Then, our knowledge of the extent of spread and epidemiology was very limited. There were a lot of unanswered questions. We’ve since done a lot of work to demonstrate the importance of this problem and make it more visible,” he said. He added that donors that once considered banana and plantain to be low-priority commodities for investment have recently shown interest in supporting efforts to control banana diseases such as BBTD. “We are galvanizing all this support, and this is happening as a result of the initiative that has been funded by RTB”.

The current project grew out of an RTB workshop organized by IITA and Bioversity in early 2013, in Arusha, Tanzania, where various international experts shared information on the latest developments in controlling BBTD with representatives of African ministries and organizations. The alliance that was formalized at that meeting began collaborating on efforts to raise awareness in the region and on the proposal for the current project. Kumar emphasized that the partnership between Bioversity and IITA facilitated mobilizing support and networking to combat BBTD in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Kumar said that they dubbed their collaboration a ‘learning alliance’ because partners will implement a combination of various control measures within eight different agroecologies in SSA, and their effectiveness is likely to vary. Scientists will analyze the initial results and then adapt the strategies accordingly. He explained that national agricultural research institutions in each country will manage the action sites while the RTB centers coordinate the project, train local staff, and provide access to resources such as clean planting material and diagnostic reagents.

Kumar observed that a shortage of monitoring skills and knowledge of BBTD in many countries has facilitated the disease’s spread, so the project has prioritized training and public awareness. In the coming months, IITA, Bioversity and CIRAD will organize a training course at the CIRAD campus in Montpellier on detection of the virus for national partners from the affected countries, in order to help develop a capacity for monitoring and certification of planting material.

“We expect more success stories as the project progresses, but the simple fact that we’ve raised awareness about this problem and formed a learning alliance is already an achievement,” Kumar said.

More on Banana Bunchy Top Disease

RTB Annual Report 2012

RTB publishes first annual report

Teaming Up for Greater Impact - RTB Annual Report

Teaming Up for Greater Impact is the title of the first RTB Annual Report, which documents the initial steps taken to consolidate the CGIAR Research Program during 2012 and highlights some of the achievements of its first year. Though it can be a challenge to coordinate collaboration among research centers and their partners on several continents, the report confirms that it is not only possible but that the resulting synergies can enhance the effectiveness of everyone involved.

Download a PDF of the report here.

Sweetpotato: priority setting… with you!

First Steps Completed for the Priority Assessment for Roots, Tubers and Bananas

Sweetpotato: priority setting… with you!

Launched in June 2012, the Strategic Assessment of research priorities for RTB crops is now entering a new phase. After 12 months of collecting information through online surveys, the RTB team dedicated to the Priority Assessment exercise has started analyzing the data.

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB) is conducting a strategic assessment of research priorities for bananas, plantains, cassavas, potatoes, sweetpotatoes and yams in order to identify where and how to focus the program’s resources. The goal is to achieve the highest possible impacts on food security, nutrition and health, poverty reduction, gender equity and environmental sustainability. To do this, scientists and stakeholders from across the global RTB community have been involved in a dialogue to increase the relevance and enhance the impacts of RTB research. The dynamic, systematic and transparent approach that was designed includes periodic revision and updating of research priorities. The six steps of the approach, which are not necessarily consecutive, complement one another to define RTB priorities in a way that incorporates the most current data and information and engages a wide array of stakeholders from the global RTB community.

Online surveys were made available on line in several languages – Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian – to reach out to great numbers of experts and stakeholders.

These surveys are now closed and will be shared on this website soon.

 

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Gender

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) has developed a multi-faceted gender strategy that will be woven through its research and development portfolio during  the first three-year phase of the program and beyond. The strategy has been developed over several months and is based on extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders. The overall objective of the Program is to improve food security and reduce poverty while strengthening gender equality. For this to happen, all farmers, both men and women, must be able to benefit from science and technology interventions leading to positive development outcomes.

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Roots, Tubers and Bananas – Working on “Flagship Products” towards Intermediate Development Outcomes

logoTwitterSophie Alvarez, a consultant at CIAT, had the opportunity to facilitate a meeting of representatives of the four RTB participating Centers (Bioversity, CIAT, CIP, IITA) and other partners of RTB in CIAT Headquarters last March. The Research Program has been in the intensive process of establishing the foundations for results based management, thus dealing with impact pathways. In this workshop, the focus were flagship products and their pathways through intermediate development outcomes, with the end of improving the impact on livelihoods. RTB is looking to answer difficult questions regarding what it entails to implement results based management “for real”. The team has been leading with the concept of “flagship products” as a way to “encompass the big ideas for RTB research and research results” and “to go beyond a simple aggregation of the current product portfolio within themes, toward rational cross-theme, cross- center and cross-crop products and outcomes” (Graham Thiele, RTB Director). RTB has already influenced Consortium-level thinking on the inclusion of flagships as an indicator in annual performance monitoring.

Read more

Mosaic and Brown Streak Disease in Cassava

Scientists alarmed by the rapid spread of brown streak disease in cassava, a crop that sustains 300 million Africans

World’s cassava experts to wage war against cassava viruses;
Introduction into Nigeria, the largest cassava producer in the world, could result in drastic food shortages in this part of Africa

Mosaic and Brown Streak Disease in Cassava

Mosaic and Brown Streak Disease in Cassava

BELLAGIO, ITALY (6 MAY 2013)— Cassava experts are reporting new outbreaks and the increased spread of Cassava Brown Streak Disease or CBSD, warning that the rapidly proliferating plant virus could cause a 50 percent drop in production of a crop that provides a significant source of food and income for 300 million Africans.

The “pandemic” of CBSD now underway is particularly worrisome because agriculture experts have been looking to the otherwise resilient cassava plant—which also is used to produce starch, flour, biofuel and even beer—as the perfect crop for helping to feed a continent where growing conditions in many regions are deteriorating in the face of climate change.

“Cassava is already incredibly important for Africa and is poised to play an even bigger role in the future, which is why we need to move quickly to contain and eliminate this plague,” said Claude Fauquet, a scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (known by its Spanish acronym CIAT) who heads the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21). “We are particularly concerned that the disease could spread to West Africa and particularly Nigeria—the world’s largest producer and consumer of cassava—because Nigeria would provide a gateway for an invasion of West Africa where about 150 million people depend on the crop.”

Fauquet and his colleagues in the GCP21—an alliance of scientists, developers, donors and industry representatives—are gathering at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy this week for a conference dedicated to “declaring war on cassava viruses in Africa.” For Graham Thiele, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), supporting such an initiative is exactly what RTB is about: “We can only tackle big issues by joining forces and GCP21 is an ambitious convening mechanism to address with one of the most important constraints faced by cassava producers”.

A “Silent Killer” Emerges: CBSD on Warpath from East to West

First identified in 1935 in East Africa and little-known until about ten years ago, CBSD has emerged as the most serious threat among the various cassava viruses. Infections can claim 100 percent of a farmer’s harvest without the farmer’s knowledge. The leaves of infected plants can look healthy even as the roots, cassava’s most prized asset, are being ravaged underground. The tell-tale signs of the disease are brown streaks in the root’s flesh that, when healthy, provide a rich source of dietary carbohydrates and industrial starchy products.

There have been recent reports of new outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—the world’s third largest cassava producer—and Angola, where production has boomed in recent years. The spread of the disease to West Africa and particularly Nigeria is a major cause for concern, experts say, because the country now produces 50 million tons of cassava each year and has made a big bet on cassava for its agricultural and industrial development in the near future.

Nigeria is the first African country to massively invest in the potential of cassava to meet the rapidly growing global demand for industrial starches, which are used in everything from food products to textiles, plywood and paper. Nigeria hopes to mimic the success of countries in Southeast Asia, where a cassava-driven starch industry now generates US$5 billion per year and employs millions of smallholder farmers and numerous small-scale processors.

CMD—a Scourge for Cassava on the African Continent

Brown Streak Disease

Brown Streak Disease

Scientists at the conference will also consider options for dealing with another devastating virus—the Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD). CMD has plagued the whole African continent for over a century, each year removing a minimum of 50 million tons of cassava from the harvest.

The disease is caused by several viruses and the African continent witnessed several major CMD epidemics over the past decades, the most recent and devastating pandemic occurred the 1990s in East and Central Africa. Great success was achieved in combating the CMD pandemic through developing and disseminating varieties that were resistant to CMD. In fact, by the mid-2000s, half of all cassava farmers were benefiting from these varieties in large parts of East and Central Africa. But by a cruel twist of nature, both improved and local varieties all succumbed to the ‘new’ pandemic of CBSD.

Unexpected Plot Twist: Whiteflies Ambush a Climate-Resilient Crop

Interest in cassava has intensified across Africa as rising temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns caused by climate change threaten the future viability of food staples such as maize and wheat. Cassava has been called the “Rambo root” for its extraordinary ability to survive high temperatures and tolerate poor soils. But rising temperatures now pose a threat to cassava because they appear to be one of several factors causing an explosion in whiteflies, which carry the viruses that cause CMD and CBSD and pass it along as they feed on the plant’s sap.

Compounding the effects of rising temperatures, scientists also think that genetic changes have led to the emergence of “super” whiteflies. This toxic mix of circumstances affecting a tiny fly threatens to shoot down the “Rambo root,” bringing the misery of food insecurity to vast swathes of Africa.

“We used to see only three or four whiteflies per plant; now we’re seeing thousands,” said James Legg, a leading cassava expert at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). “You literally have a situation where human beings are competing for food—with whiteflies.”

Farmers also help spread the disease by planting new fields with infected stem cuttings. Scientists note that while it would take several years for the disease to spread across the continent via whiteflies alone, infected stem cuttings could spark outbreaks in new areas overnight.

Experts to Develop Plan to Stop Viruses in their Tracks

At the Italy meeting, experts will discuss a variety of tactics for combating virus diseases, such as developing more disease-resistant varieties like those recently released in Tanzania. Efforts to breed high-yielding disease-resistant plants suitable for Africa’s various growing regions will involve going to South America, where cassava originated, and working with scientists to mine the cassava gene bank at CIAT in Colombia—the biggest repository of cassava cultivars in the world.

The expert team will also discuss a more ambitious plan: how to eradicate cassava viruses altogether. The aim will be to develop a bold regional strategy that will gradually, step-by-step, village-by-village, replace farmers’ existing infested cassava plants with virus-free planting material of the best and most resistant available cultivars. Approaches will include new molecular breeding and genetic engineering technologies to speed up the selection and production of CMD and CBSD resistant cassava cultivars more appealing to farmers.

There also will be discussions about cost-effective and environmentally sustainable ways to control whiteflies, as well as proposals for new surveillance systems that can better track and stop the disease from spreading and new research into the potential threat African cassava producers face from the introduction of new diseases currently found outside the continent.

“It’s time for the world to recalibrate its scientific priorities,” Fauquet said. “More than any other crop, cassava has the greatest potential to reduce hunger and poverty in Africa, but CBSD and other viruses are crippling yields. We need to treat CBSD and other destructive viruses like the smallpox of cassava—formidable diseases, but threats we can eradicate if everyone pulls together.”

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Founded in 2003, the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) is a not-for-profit international alliance of 45 organizations and coordinated by Claude Fauquet and Joe Tohme of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). It aims to fill gaps in cassava research and development in order to unlock the potential of cassava for improving food security and also increasing incomes of poor farmers through work to develop industrial products from cassava. GCP21 is providing updated information regarding the crop, the scientists working on cassava and cassava R&D projects in the world.

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) are nonprofit research-for-development organizations and members of the CGIAR Consortium. Along with Bioversity and the International Potato Center, they participate in the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), an initiative bringing together the research synergies and resources of centers and partners to tap the underutilized potential of root, tuber, and banana crops to improve food security, nutrition, and livelihoods.

Additional Institutions attending the Third Strategic Meeting of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century, Bellagio, Italy: CGIAR Fund; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); World Bank; the African Development Bank (AfDB); United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Syngenta Foundation; Catholic Relief Services (CRS); Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI); Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI), Tanzania; DSMZ; Natural Resources Institute (NRI); Tel Aviv University; Institute of Resources Assesssment (IRA), Tanzania; National Agricultral Crops Resources Research Institute (NACRRI), Uganda.