What are the key development challenges or opportunities being addressed? Who will benefit?
Root and tuber crops (RTC), including cassava, sweet potato, yams, potato, cocoyams and other minor root crops are important to the agriculture and food security of many countries and overall are a component of the diet for 2.2 billion people in developing countries.
The productivity of root and tuber crops is often affected by the accumulation of pests and diseases which are passed on through vegetative propagation. A further challenge is that compared to crops such as wheat, rice and maize, root and tuber crops are bulky, have a high water content and a relatively short shelf-life. This constrains value chain development and the expansion of production and delivery at scale to processors and markets. Appropriate processing technologies and business enterprise models for these crops are not readily available for potential investors. There is also a need for new, beneficial varieties that meet a range of consumer demands.
Development of Root and Tuber Crops is important because:
- They meet local food preferences, providing an important part of the diet as they produce more edible energy per hectare per day than any other crop groups.
- They play an important role in food security, nutrition and climate change adaptation.
- They provide important sources of income through direct sale and value-addition via processing for food and non-food uses.
- Despite their importance investment in RTC has been much lower than in the cereal crops. RTC have been neglected compared to other crops (Commission for Africa Report, 2010).
The NRI RTCD Programme seeks to achieve positive and lasting impacts on nutritional status, food security and incomes through research and development, capacity building and policy advice, at all stages of root and tuber crops value chains. The beneficiaries include farmers, householders, traders, wholesalers, private sector, consumers, policy makers and researchers. The programme develops environmental, cultural and socially appropriate strategies to ensure the target beneficiaries in the root and tuber crops value chain achieve developmental outcomes.