French Agricultural Research Centre Joins Global Alliance to Promote Roots, Tubers and Bananas for Food Security and Income

Lima, Peru/Montpellier, France, 7 August 2013 – The French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (Cirad) was confirmed as the newest partner of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), becoming a new strategic partner in that global alliance to improve the food security, diets and income of millions of smallholder farmers in developing countries.

This formal partnership recognizes the commitment of Cirad and its French partners (IRD, Inra, Vitropic) to research and development activities for potatoes, sweetpotatoes, cassava, yams, bananas and other root and tuber crops. Sometimes dubbed “poor man’s crops”, because they provide sustenance for some of the world’s poorest and most marginalized farmers, root, tuber and banana crops have significant nutritional value and potential to improve incomes.

The RTB Research Program was launched in January 2012, bringing together dozens of partners, including four CGIAR research centers: Bioversity International, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Potato Center (CIP), which coordinates the program. Those organizations are working to improve the conservation of genetic resources, breeding programs, pest and disease management, the supply of quality planting materials, cropping systems and postharvest options, in order to tap the full potential of RTB crops. The addition of Cirad, with 800 researchers in all disciplines and joint operations with more than 90 countries, will greatly enhance the program’s impact and international presence.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cirad has now one designated member in the RTB Steering Committee, François Cote, scientific director at Cirad and one member in the Management Committee, Robert Domaingue acting also as French focal point for RTB. Cirad will also serve as a liaison with other French organizations such as the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA).

“Cirad, IRD, Inra and RTB work on the same topics and share a common vision; in a globalized agricultural research landscape it is indispensable to build on synergies and join forces, as we will have more impact working together,” said Robert Domaingue, from the Genetic Improvement and Adaptation of Mediterranean and Tropical Plants Joint Research Unit in Montpellier, France.

For Patrick Caron, Director General for Research and Strategy at Cirad, “CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) represent a unique opportunity to develop innovative ways for partnership on a broader scale, to strengthen existing collaborations and to develop new ones. Our common approach as regards the design, investment and governance within CRPs, will contribute significantly towards the programs’ objectives, outputs and impacts for end-users. With our French research partners we have a long and sustained commitment on many fields of research such as rice, forestry, dryland cereals, water management and many others. Roots, tubers and bananas research represents a new opportunity to develop joint activities. ”

“This partnership is of major significance to the program’s objectives and will contribute to our efforts to improve the livelihoods of at least 200 million people in the poorest regions of the world”, said Pamela K. Anderson, Chair of the RTB Steering Committee and CIP’s Director General.

Cirad, IRD, Inra and Vitropic have already contributed to the RTB Research Program during its planning stage and first year, participating in workshops and supporting the work of a Cirad senior scientist leader of the post-harvest technologies and value chains theme, and based at CIAT headquarters in Cali, Colombia. The French scientists are currently developing an annual collaboration plan within the RTB framework that will be reviewed by the Steering Committee at the end of the year. Cirad is bringing financial and human resources to the research program, including 20 scientists, in addition to 8 from IRD and 5 from INRA, and support from the company Vitropic.


About RTB

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) is a broad alliance of research-for-development stakeholders and partners. Its purpose is to tap the underutilized potential of root, tuber, and banana crops for improving nutrition and food security, increasing incomes and fostering greater gender equity – especially amongst the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.

CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centers who are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.

About Cirad

Cirad (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement) is a targeted research organization, and bases its operations on development needs, from field to laboratory and from a local to a global scale. Its activities involve the life sciences, social sciences and engineering sciences, applied to agriculture, food and rural territories. It works with the whole range of developing countries to generate and pass on new knowledge, support agricultural development and fuel the debate on the main global issues concerning agriculture.

Cirad works hand-in-hand with local people and the local environment, on complex, ever-changing issues: food security, ecological intensification, emerging diseases, the future of agriculture in developing countries, etc. It primarily works through joint research platforms (14 worldwide and seven in the French overseas regions).

About IRD

The IRD is a French public sector institution working in the fields of science and technology, and entirely dedicated to research into development. It is jointly governed by the French ministries for research and for development.

Operating from headquarters in Marseille, with two further French mainland sites in Bondy and Montpellier, we are active in over fifty countries, in Africa, around the Mediterranean basin and in Latin America, Asia and the French tropical overseas territories. The IRD seeks to confront the major challenges standing in the way of development by carrying out research, training and innovation missions in Southern countries – for their benefit and in partnership with them.

Based on an interdisciplinary approach, the projects run with our partners address issues of crucial importance for the South: tropical and lifestyle diseases, food safety, climate change, water resources, biodiversity, social development, vulnerability, and inequality, migration… with the background aim of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

About Inra

Inra (Institut national de la recherche agronomique) is a public targeted research and finalized organization. It aims to produce scientific knowledge and to support the innovation in the areas of food, agriculture and environment. Initially focused on agricultural production, research is now extended to the scope of products and the organization of agri-food sector (product quality, nutritional value and food safety). Internationalization occupies a central place in the scientific guidelines of Inra, around food, climate change, and biodiversity challenges. This requires transdisciplinary management of research, expertise and innovation. INRA is composed of 9 000 permanent staff who work through 17 research centres in France. One is located in a tropical area and has implantations in the Caribbean (Guadeloupe) and South America (French Guyana).


CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas:

Véronique Durroux-Malpartida, RTB Communications Specialist; Email: v.durroux


 Florence VigierPress Officer; Email: