Our overall assessment of 2015 was positive, but it was a challenging year for the program! In the space of twelve months we saw changes in governance, an external evaluation, an audit review, preparation of documents for Phase II of the CGIAR Research Program and some significant budget adjustments. We made it through with some considerable achievements, thanks to our dedicated scientists, strong partnerships, engaged management team and committed governance group.
We are very pleased to report that 2015 brought continued successes in research outputs, documented in the sections which follow, and also, adoption and enhanced outcomes as captured in the dashboard, a new feature in this year’s report.
We are very satisfied with our newly created Independent Steering Committee (ISC), which provided an institutional mechanism for checks-and-balances within the program, with clear and specific roles and responsibilities. The ISC comprises nine members, a majority of them are independent; Barbara Wells as the Director General (DG) of the International Potato Center (CIP) as a permanent member, a DG of another participating center on a rotating appointment, presently Bioversity International, a high-level representative of Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), and Graham Thiele the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) Program Director as ex-officio member. Chaired by Helen Hambly Odame of University of Guelph, in Canada, the ISC provided us with inspirational leadership in thinking about partnerships, theories of change, gender and risk management. The face-to-face meeting of the RTB ISC in Lima in September 2015 provided a critical sounding board to guide future development. Together with the CIP Board of Trustees, the ISC provided a high level of oversight and support in planning and reporting program activities. ISC was especially attentive to the preparation of our Pre-Proposal for Phase II, which was highly rated by the CGIAR.
We are proud of RTB’s achievements, reflected in the 2015 Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA) review, which noted that “in spite of the complexities and challenges of successfully implementing a multi-crop and multi-partner CRP, RTB has made notable progress in the past four years and is already delivering results, in spite of budget cuts. RTB is well-directed and reaching a reasonable number of its near-term milestones and is working towards achieving its goals, particularly those concerning productivity and nutritional improvement”. In the same positive spirit, the Independent Audit Unit (IAU) review, also carried out in 2015, commented: “RTB has done an impressive job in structuring the CRP to best minimize costs and obtain consensus”.
In 2015, however, the program was challenged by two reductions in the overall level of funding. RTB and its partners managed these risks through flexibly adjusted contractual arrangements with participating centers and compromises in the achievements of originally envisaged deliverables; although, thanks to high level of support from centers and scientists, strong progress was still made.
As RTB moves to the end of the current phase, and plans for the next from 2017-2022, we are giving close attention to consolidating innovations and tracking progress in pursuance of alleviating poverty and improving food security.
Barbara H. Wells
CIP Director General
RTB Program Director