Eco-Mobility and Empowered Sustenance

How to thrive in the age of climate change: Roots and tuber crops are key

Cassavas and sweet potatoes

Root and tuber crops (RTCs) are notably versatile, as they are used in various ways in the agriculture, health, and food sectors and climate change resilience efforts. After typhoon Haiyan passed over central Philippines, sweetpotato and cassava were the first main crops distributed and planted towards the food relief and rehabilitation efforts in Leyte and Samar.

However, despite their potentials, RTCs are often overlooked and undervalued.

Nevertheless, over the last decade, financial support from the local government, international organizations, and donors for the development of RTCs have steadily increased.

The regional congress, “Root and Tuber Crops for Food Security and Climate Change Resilience in Asia,” took place October 17 and 18 at Luxent Hotel in Quezon City, and was one such initiative. Organized by the International Potato Center (CIP) and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) in collaboration with Philippine Root Crop Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops) of the Visayas State University (VSU), the congress was sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the European Union (EU).

The event provided the venue for discussing and promoting RTC science and technology, policy measures, and pragmatic approaches for exploring opportunities and challenges amidst global climate change.

The regional congress shared key findings and recommendations to further scale up the innovations of FoodSTART+, a research grant funded by the EU and IFAD which partnered with five large-scale IFAD investments in the Philippines, India, Indonesia and Vietnam to enhance food resilience in upland and coastal communities, the most vulnerable to climate change, through RTC innovations.

Over 100 participants from Asian countries such as India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Indonesia, and the Pacific islands joined the congress, including a large delegation from the Philippines.

The Congress consisted of four parts: Plenary sessions on breeding, agronomy, pest and disease management, and contribution of roots and tubers to the resilience of agri-food systems; Knowledge Learning Fair (KLF) showcasing innovations in seed systems, postharvest practices and product development from selected organizations; Roundtable discussions; and Field Visits in Pampanga to present successful experiences on cultivation, processing and contractual arrangements for sweetpotato and cassava.

Through this initiative, it is hoped that researchers, extension workers, policy makers, the private sector, development practitioners, farmers’ organizations, donors, media practitioners, and the general public will altogether gain a better understanding, greater awareness, and increased appreciation of RTCs and their benefits in addressing societal issues, including food security and climate change resilience (DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).