Researchers, donors, and policymakers working on root and tuber crops (RTCs), across the world are meeting at the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Nigeria, to discuss and share experiences on new breakthroughs, build collaboration, and develop strategies that will contribute to sustainable development.
The one-week event with the theme: ‘The Roots (and Tubers) of Development and Climate Change’ was organised by the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC) as part of the society’s 16th triennial symposia.
Tropical root and tuber crops are essential to meeting global food security and sustaining the livelihoods of millions of people. Individually, cassava, potato, sweet potato, and yam rank among the most important food crops worldwide and, in terms of annual volume of production, cassava, potato, and sweet potato rank among the top 10 food crops produced in developing countries.
However, constraints such as low productivity, limited added value, and climate change are still insufficiently addressed, according to Prof. Lateef Sanni of FUNAAB, who is the chair of the local organising committee.
Climate change, specifically, provides both opportunities and challenges for attaining the potential contribution of RTCs for sustainable human development, and strategies are needed to address key issues in productivity, crop plant-soil/water/energy resources management, postharvest utilisation, nutrition and health value addition, and trade and commercialisation, so that the role of RTCs in ensuring sustainable development could be enhanced.
Sanni said, “This year’s symposium provides an opportunity for experts from around the world to meet and address this agenda.”
“We see the event as an excellent platform for drawing the way forward for RTCs,” said the Director of Research for West Africa at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Dr. Robert Asiedu.
Participants will reflect and take stock of sustainable policies for enhancing the contribution of RTCs to global development, trade, and technology commercialisation.
The event is to serve as a unique platform for interaction among scientists working on all tropical root and tuber crops (sweet potato, cassava, potato, Andean roots and tubers, yam, and aroids) from various backgrounds and from around the world to share experiences.
At the moment, more than 200 delegates from 32 countries have confirmed attendance. The keynote address will be presented by Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture & Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina. The Director General of IITA, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, will also speak at the event.