In 1995, TAC commissioned an Inter-Centre Review of Root and Tuber Crops Research in the CGIAR, and thatgroup’s final report was submitted in April 1996. Among its findings, the review recommended that the Centers working on these crops prepare, in consultation with non-CGIAR members, “a comprehensive, documented text that sets out a vision for root and tuber research employing Inter-Centre collaborations and institutional partnerships....” (TAC, 1997). At International Centers’ Week 1996, representatives of CIAT, CIP, IFPRI, IPGRI, and IITA met, formed an informal committee, and established a task force to prepare such a report, with CIP and CIAT representatives acting as co-convenors. This document synthesizes the principal findings of the subsequent work.
Roots and tuber crops have myriad and complex roles to play in feeding the world in the coming decades. Far from being one sort of crop that serves one specific purpose, they will be many things to many—very many—people. By 2020, roots and tubers will be integrated into emerging markets through the efficient and environmentally sound production of a diversified range of high-quality, competitive products for food, feed, and industry. These crops’ adaptation to marginal environments, their contribution to household food security, and their great flexibility in mixed farming systems make them an important component of a targeted strategy that seeks to improve the welfare of the rural poor and to link smallholder farmers with these emerging growth markets. We estimate that by 2020 well over two billion people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America will use roots and tubers for food, feed, and income. Many of these people will be among the poorest of the poor. The CGIAR Centers, with their partners, will contribute to achieving this vision through the application of science; dissemination of information, tools, and methodologies; policy support; and, strengthening of national research and development systems.