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Flagship Project 2: Adapted productive varieties and quality seed of RTB crops

The objective of Flagship Project 2 (FP2) is to develop and make available good-quality planting materials of a diverse set of high-yielding RTB varieties that are adapted to the needs and preferences of different stakeholders in the value chain.

RTB crops represent a diverse group of clonal crops that provide the basis of food energy for several hundred million people. They face similar challenges of persistent low yields per unit area and high costs of production that limit their success in achieving food security for many of the earth’s poorest inhabitants, especially women and children. Where high-yielding hybrids exist, their adoption is often hampered by the fact that they do not fully respond to endusers’ needs and preferences. Poor quality of planting material further contributes to below potential productivity of RTB production systems. Furthermore, the utilization of RTB crops in the farming systems has been limited due to the lack of access to suitable varieties fitting into e.g. cereal-based cropping systems.

This flagship aims to improve the livelihoods of more than 10 million farming households who primarily depend on RTB crops for food security, nutrition and income generation, primarily at the small and medium scale levels. Combined clusters of activity for banana, cassava, potato, sweetpotato and yam will improve productivity and availability of demand driven improved varieties and high quality planting materials in targeted impact pathways supported by cross cutting disciplines and partner networks to improve dissemination and adoption for delivery at large scale. The flagship will implement and disseminate technologies and approaches which have been proven to meet the respective demands of smallholder farming communities and continue to develop and validate technologies in participation with target beneficiaries to improve livelihoods and resilience of vulnerable farming households under changing environmental conditions.

As overarching principle of the flagship we will implement a gender responsive approach aiming to increase equitable access to RTB seed of varieties with appropriate traits for food security and markets. Such an approach will enable women and vulnerable households to fulfill their roles in food provisioning, production as well as in income generation.

Key elements of the FP2 strategy include:

  1. Implement strategies to accelerate genetic gains, improve selection accuracy, selection intensity and shorten the breeding cycle, in order to accelerate farmers access to genetic gains
  2. Conduct a gendered assessment of end user-preferred traits for RTB varieties and participatory varietal selection
  3. Reduce the RTB bottlenecks in seed quality and distribution, using rapid multiplication and integrative system oriented, gender equitable and evidence base seed interventions.
  4. Improve key seed system services focused on farm level quality management, enabling regulation, basic diagnostics focused on breeder seed and business and marketing skills for RTB out-growers.

Clusters of activity

FP2 Research and development activities are organized in seven interrelated Cluster of Activities that together achieve the objectives and targets of the flagship.

    • CC2.1: Improving smallholder access to healthy RTB planting material and new varieties
      Improve the quality of RTB seed system interventions across all crops, through the development of evidence-based tools and frameworks and supportive regulatory environments for seed system stakeholders. It will both contribute to and learn from seed-related work in crop-specific clusters in FP2–FP4 and in a livelihood context in FP5.
    • BA2.2: Matching banana cultivars and hybrids with farmers’, consumers’ and markets’ needs, for more sustainable food and production systems
      Sustainably increases banana productivity by developing deploying and cultivars that better fit key stakeholders’ needs and preferences, and make them available to key actors in the banana value chain.
    • CA2.3: Added-value cassava varieties for traditional uses and high-impact markets
      Delivers improved added value cassava varieties for high impact markets and end uses that meet the needs of growers, processors, and consumers who depend on cassava for their diet and/or income generation. This cluster will draw heavily on other flagships and cassava clusters (DI1.2, CC2.1, CC3.2, CA3.5, CA3.6, CA4.2 and CA4.3) to integrate tools and technologies into efficient breeding pipelines with enhanced genetic gain.
    • PO2.4: Improving livelihoods of potato farmers in Africa by tackling deteriorated potato seed quality through an integrated approach
      Facilitates the uptake of technologies, tools and innovative business arrangements at key points along the potato seed value chain that accelerates access to quality planting material and robust varieties to improve food security and productivity.
    • PO2.5: Agile potato for Asia
      Provides alternatives for improving productivity and intensifying and diversifying cereal-based systems and smallholders’ livelihoods in target areas of Asia, through the development and utilization of potato varieties adapted to multiple cropping systems.
    • SW2.6: User-preferred sweetpotato varieties and seed technologies
      Delivers improved beta carotene rich and anti-oxidant high sweetpotato varieties meeting diverse user preferences and needs with gender-responsive seed systems and strong linkages to SW4.4, which focuses on achieving nutritional outcomes.
  • YA2.7: Yam varieties and sustainable seed systems
    Develops end user-preferred yam varieties, adapted to diverse cropping systems, deployed through an improved and sustainable seed system.

Key target outcomes for Flagship 2 include (by 2022)

  • 20,000,000 people (4,000,000 HH), of which 50% are women, increased their annual income by increasing RTB sales and diversifying market strategies
  • At least 5 million HH increased their annual RTB yield by at least 10%
  • 4 million farmers making diversified use of RTB’s genetic diversity.
  • Capacity to deal with climate risks and extremes increased for at least 1,000,000 HH

Questions to guide your feedback

  1. What do you consider are the most important and relevant elements in this flagship?
  2. Which elements do you think need strengthening?
  3. How could your organization improve its collaboration with this flagship?

Please leave your feedback as a comment below, specifying the question number you are responding to. Any additional comments are welcome too.

7 thoughts on “Flagship 2

  1. Julian Smith

    'Productive varieties and quality seed' had me thinking that this was going to be about seed systems and delivery of healthy seed to farmers. Key elements 1 and 2 are breeding. CA2.3 is markets etc. It's a bit random. Key target outcomes seem more like CRP-level outcomes. For me the most important elements of this flagship should be about the commercial basis of seed systems and how we ensure quality and regulatory compliance. It would be for RTB to badge the extent these systems were common across RTB crops, and/or can support wider seed systems.

  2. Diego Naziri

    Q2: What are the delivery mechanisms? What is the role of the private sector and in which ways the Programme engage with it? This has to be made clear in the proposal

    1. Graham Thiele

      Thanks good point that doesnt come through clearly in the summary. But it is part of the RTB strategy to team up with private sector where this makes sense for our primary client groups. It can certainly help open bottlenecks for provision of seed and other inputs. We need to build more expertise in this area.

  3. Chiedozie Egesi

    The low multiplication ratios of RTB crops has been a major impediment for farmers to uptake and benefit from newly improved varieties. I would take time to identify new tools or techniques that would enable faster and higher multiplication ratios of these crops. I would also seek to have understand what factors would incentivize seed producers and farmers alike to refrain from replanting their previous seed. There needs to be a proven test case to convince unequivocally a rural farmer to buy a fresh seed when they can go back to recycle their ratooned plants. Some have opined that regular delivery of new and better varieties would be the motivation, but my question sometimes is who has proved this to be true for RTBs?

    1. Graham Thiele

      Agree thats a great point. We need to prove the case with evidence and economics for a range of different contexts and RTB crops.

  4. Greg Forbes

    Q2. Personally, I think the overall objective is too narrow and inaccurate. The objective as written now implies that this FP develops new RTB varieties and makes available seed of 'those' varieties. The FP also helps RTB farmers and seed producers improve the quality of their planting material, whether of new and old varieties. Somehow this should be made clearer.

    1. Graham Thiele

      Well we could just delete "develop and". Then it reads "make available good quallity planting material of a diverse set…" This would include breeding when thats needed but could also include working with seed systems of existing varieties. What do you think?


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