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Communities of Practice

Through online discussions, CoP members share information with one another and with members of other CoP groups. Online discussions are guided by topics selected during the annual meeting, and enable the participation of members who are unable to attend the physical meetings. Each topic is moderated by a leader, who summarizes and distributes the summary of the discussion, conclusions and way forward for action or future discussions.


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This CoP meeting is held under the umbrella of the Africa-wide Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI). Participants share experiences and innovative ways to fast-the scale-up of marketing, processing and utilization of vitamin-A rich sweetpotato varieties.


SPHI is a 10-year initiative led by the International Potato Centre (CIP), and it is expected to improve the lives of 10 million households by 2020 in 17 target countries. Launched in 2009, the project had already reached over 1 million households by the end of December 2014.

One of the key intervention areas is improving the sweetpotato value chain by researching and implementing actions that will remove bottlenecks related to processing, marketing and utilization of sweetpotato products.

The CoP brings together professionals working on all levels of the sweetpotato value chain, as well as private sector players who are innovating processing and utilization of orange-fleshed sweetpotato for commercial products. The overall objective continues to be to develop the essential capacities, products, and methods to reposition sweetpotato in food economies to alleviate poverty and under-nutrition in Africa.

Decentralized breeding in Africa for Africa clearly has produced results. By using new methods and tools, and engaging with farmers earlier in the breeding cycle, Speedbreeders had released 46 new sweetpotato varieties since 2009, 37 of which are orange-fleshed by 2015.  Thirteen breeders contributed to the 2014 edition of the Catalogue of Orange-fleshed Sweetpotato for Africa. Capacity building efforts are helping to build the next generation of breeders. Evidence has been generated proving that hybrid vigor can be exploited in sweetpotato; now, even faster breeding progress can be expected.  By December 2013, 890,000 SSA households had received orange-fleshed varieties.


Join the speedbreeders forum

The annual SpeedBreeders meetings bring national program breeders from 14 countries together has continued.  From 2015, the meeting will be collaboration with the new sweetpotato genomics project led by North Carolina State University.  This collaboration will introduce training on and use of molecular tools into the breeding CoP. 

Speedbreeders from 14 SSA countries meet annually to review their progress and learn new techniques.  To further improve their efficiency, they are using SASHA’s Excel-based tool CloneSelector, with the R Statistical Package integrated into it.  It facilitates trial design, label printing, entering data into agreed upon common fields, and data analysis.

The MLE CoP group will focus on developing agreed upon tools and protocols whose use among different sweetpotato dissemination efforts will be encouraged. The MLE will facilitate experience sharing and training on using, testing and adopting innovative and appropriate monitoring systems.  

The Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning CoP aims to accord its members the opportunity to “get better together” through shared learning and sharing of tacit knowledge, which will in turn enable members to develop innovative solutions to M&E challenges.

Functioning seed systems meeting farmer demand are key to improving sweetpotato production and productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, sweetpotato seed systems are affected by a number of technical, socio-economic, institutional and financial constraints that translate into low productivity of sweetpotato in SSA; these are a common concern in many countries. To encourage exchange of experiences and knowledge generation which could help identify new ways to tackle these issues  a sweetpotato seed systems Community of Practice (CoP) was conceived at the  2nd Sweetpotato Seed Systems Consultation  and Sweetpotato Platform meeting  that was held at Entebbe, Uganda, 14th-15th April 2014.  

We are committed to developing and being active members of a dynamic CoP on sweetpotato seed system research and development. We are genuinely interested in learning from each other’s expertise and practice. As members we combine our own interests with an open mandate from our organisation and we work together in an informal structure.

The purpose of the CoP will be to facilitate networking, the exchange of experiences and learning in order to generate new knowledge about how to tackle crucial constraints in sweetpotato seed systems across SSA. The membership of the CoP is open to committed individuals and organisations that have a mandate to work on sweetpotato seed systems.


We will do this through:


  1. Bi-monthly web-based (SPKP) discussion forum on specific topics
  2. Annual physical meeting of active participating members
  3. Ad-hoc communication between participating members
  4. Preparation of briefs and concept notes in response to demand or specific calls


We anticipate the following outputs:


  1. Increased visibility and spread of good sweetpotato seed system technologies and practices across the three sub-regions (e.g. business models for sweetpotato vine multiplication and distribution; Triple S root based vine multiplication approach; low cost net tunnel protection of basic material)
  2. Increased information flow with respect to availability and management of sweetpotato germplasm
  3. Improved information flow about different sweetpotato seed system initiatives
  4. Harmonisation and where appropriate standardisation of relevant protocols (e.g. QDS/QDPM; germplasm exchange protcols,


This process will be facilitated by a core team representing different sub-regions and interest groups within the CoP, with backstopping by the International Potato Center (CIP).