By Jorge Andrade-Piedra and Margaret McEwan – co-leaders of the RTB cross cutting cluster on access to quality seed
“Why are the seed systems for roots, tubers and bananas (RTBs) so complex?” As a social scientist, this is an exciting challenge – to understand the interactions between technologies and social conditions and how to improve the linkages and coordination among stakeholders so that different types of farmers can access quality seed of their preferred varieties when they want it. However, when I debate with my agronomist colleagues, they complain – “Margaret you are making things too complicated – is there not a simple way to present this?”
In 2012, this question was tackled by a group of scientists of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB). They work together in cluster CC2.1. which focuses on improving RTB planting material and access to new varieties.
RTB crops are vegetatively propagated and have fundamental differences with crops grown using true seed: they are bulky, can easily carry pests and diseases, tend to remain true to varietal type for generations. They also have low multiplication ratios. These features, combined with multiple stakeholders working at different levels in the system – which are geographically and temporally separated – create a “wicked” challenge.
Continue reading this story on the CGIAR’s Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas website.