Researchers from IITA, Bioversity, CIAT and CIP met last week at CIAT headquarters in Cali, Colombia to advance geographic targeting and priority setting for the Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) research program. Our activity is a background analysis for the larger RTB priority setting process that extends into the middle of 2013. The aim of the work is to consider the geographic dimensions of priority setting for the RTB crops – potato, sweet potato, yam, cassava, bananas, plantains and others. RTB researchers included professionals from the GIS labs of the four partner centers, economists working in impact assessment and several others. The team is analyzing problems and opportunities for RTB crop development, such as poverty and socioeconomic conditions where these crops are prevalent, biotic and abiotic constraints to crop production and yield gaps.
The key activity in the analysis looks at the spatial coincidence of RTB crops with poverty, population, demography, drought, excessive heat, soil constraints, pest and disease problems and many other considerations affecting where to target R&D interventions. Where should RTB focus efforts? What are the best bets for targeting technology to its ecological and socioeconomic niche? Our team is working to answer these questions and many more. Other activities in the project include a broad-scale yield gap analysis for identifying the places where R&E might have the most impact, places where crop yields are well below their potential. Finally, the team is creating an online digital atlas on everything related to RTB crop development.