Facilitating the adoption of new root, tuber and plantain banana varieties - RTB Foods

The project aims to pinpoint the quality traits that govern the adoption of new root, tuber and plantain banana (RTB) varieties, using a novel participatory approach involving consumers, processors, farmers and researchers.
Market in French Guiana © D. Dufour, CIRAD
Market in French Guiana © D. Dufour, CIRAD

Market in French Guiana © D. Dufour, CIRAD


In the field of crop improvement, a variety is considered optimum, or elite, when it gives good yields, is well suited to the soils on which it will be grown, and is resistant to pests and diseases or to the consequences of climate change. However, these criteria are not enough to ensure that farmers and consumers will adopt it. As far as plantains, yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes or cassava are concerned, it is clear that the "elite" varieties produced by breeding programs are not popular with farmers or other value chain stakeholders. For instance, making cassava fufu involves several operations such as fermenting, peeling, removing the fibres, etc. However high-yielding a new variety is, if it does not ferment well or if it complicates fibre removal, it will not be adopted. These quality traits depend on genetics, and also on the environment; they are not easily addressed in improvement programmes. Over the years, CIRAD researchers have gradually developed methods to assess complex quality traits.


The project will serve to link local consumer preferences with quantitative quality criteria, before integrating these criteria into breeding programmes. The aim is to ensure more widespread adoption of improved varieties, boosting food security and farmers’ incomes. In five African countries (Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Uganda) and in Colombia, it will analyse the different preparation methods (boiling, pounding and frying) and the associated varietal preferences, and processability (storability, peelability, and suitability for fermenting, defibration or granulation) of RTBs – cassava, yams, sweet potatoes, plantains and potatoes. The analysis will use a reverse engineering approach, working backwards from consumers to breeders. The project will include a range of activities, from pinpointing the criteria that determine whether a variety will be adopted to assessing the impact of the environment on its variability, through the role of women and young people. 

Expected impacts

  • Wider adoption and marketing of improved RTB varieties;
  • Increased incomes for farmers in the areas concerned;
  • Greater food security for rural households.

Contract partners

IITA, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT; CIP; CARBAP (Cameroon); CNRA (Ivory Coast); Bowen University and NRCRI (Nigeria); NaCRRI and NARO (Uganda); Abomey-Calavi University – FSA/UAC (Benin), INRAE (France), NRI and James Hutton Institute (UK).