Roots, Tubers and Bananas: Full Proposal 2017-2022

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) is one of eight Agri-Food System CRPs (AFS-CRP). It will incorporate livelihood systems work, especially from the CRP Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics (Humidtropics) with which strong collaboration has been established, and expand collaboration with Global Integrating CRPs (GI-CRP) and the other AFS-CRPs making up the portfolio. An external evaluation, commissioned by the Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA) in 2015, concluded “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 for some of its crops” (IEA 2016). RTB brings together four CGIAR centers (Bioversity, CIAT, CIP, and IITA) and CIRAD (also representing the French organizations IRD, INRA, and Vitropic) with more than 200 partners for research on banana, cassava, potato, sweetpotato, yam, and minor roots and tubers. Termed “vegetatively propagated staple crops,” they are linked by common breeding, seed, and post-harvest issues, and by the frequency with which women are involved in their production and use. RTB crops are the backbone of food security in a swathe of countries, running through the humid tropics in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and in more localized areas of Asia and Latin America. Elsewhere, RTB crops often complement maize, rice, wheat, legumes, vegetables, and livestock, while also forming part of many agro-forestry systems. Around 300 million poor people1 in developing countries currently depend on RTB value chains for food and nutrition security and income; many more benefit through their consumption. RTB crops are increasingly taking on roles in income generation in value-added markets. However, climate change could potentially undo progress in poverty reduction and markedly increase food insecurity, especially in SSA where RTB crops are the most important. This puts RTB absolutely center stage in the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) in addressing the societal grand challenges of the 21st century, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An agri-food system includes all processes involved in feeding people: growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming, and disposing of food and food packages. It includes the inputs needed and outputs generated at each step (Eames-Sheavly et al. 2011). Agri-food systems affect the incomes of those whom they employ, the nutrition and health of consumers, and the quality of the natural resource base. They embody a mosaic of different crops, animals, and fish as well as other options at different levels of scale; women and men are both involved in varied and changing roles. Hence RTB research requires appropriate involvement of women and men at each of these levels—from household, to community, to landscape and above—and promotes the use of participatory and multistakeholder approaches that aim to strengthen engagement and target livelihoods enhancement. In those geographies where RTB crops predominate in the agri-food system, RTB takes an overall lead role, involving other AFS-CRPs when these can contribute to improving livelihoods. In those geographies where RTB crops play a secondary (or “companion”) role in the system, RTB collaborates with the relevant AFS-CRP. This will be organized conjointly within the framework of site integration plans that have been built into the second phase of RTB, which is designed to run from 2017 to 2022.