In 2019, the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) continued to do great science and give serious attention to scaling, working with a diverse array of partners. This report, like last year’s, is organized around five well-defined, high-impact flagship projects. The important topics of gender and youth are embedded across these flagship projects.

As you know we are entering a period of unprecedented change and uncertainty but also huge new opportunity. Institutionally we are actively engaged in the One CGIAR process which will lead to significant organisational and programmatic change. We are also grappling with the consequences of COVID-19 which began as a health crisis but will have enormous impacts on food systems. RTB crops with predominantly local value chains which are less vulnerable to global disturbances may play a key role in the response. Hence, we are presently considering how to build on our many assets, securing ongoing research but also pivoting to contribute in novel ways in this period of economic and social transformation. During a period of unprecedented change, RTB crops will continue to play a vital role in raising incomes, enhancing climate-resilience and improving nutrition and food security.

Some highlights this year include: spearheading the shift to demand-led breeding; using knowledge about metabolites for faster, better plant breeding; interactive conservation of native potato varieties and drawing lessons for other RTB crops; Nigerian farmers making money selling cassava seed of high yielding varieties; an impact study of how farmers benefit from managing a serious banana disease; using apps to diagnose crop health problems; optimizing extension methods to train young mothers about orange-fleshed sweetpotato; looking into the future to guide investment in root, tuber and banana crops; and showing how young agribusiness men and women are motivated by more than profits.

Across all the stories, RTB as a program adds value to the work of its collaborating centers and partners, building larger critical mass and contributing to the many successful outcomes and impacts in this report. Our aim is to build on recognised research excellence as we strive to ensure that the crucial, but still often neglected, RTB crops receive the recognition they deserve. We thank all our partners and donors whose outstanding contributions have made these achievements possible.


Barbara H. Wells

CIP Director General


Graham Thiele

RTB Program Director