Scientists gather in Nigeria to discuss root, tuber crops in the face of climate change

Researchers, donors, and policymakers across the world working on root and tuber crops (RTCs) are meeting in Nigeria to discuss and develop strategies that will contribute to sustainable development.
The one-week event—which begins Monday, 24 September 2012, has the theme: The Roots (and Tubers) of Development and Climate Changeis being organized 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 organizing 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 utilization, nutrition and health value addition, and trade and commercialization—so that the role of RTCs in ensuring sustainable development could be enhanced.
Prof 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 Dr Robert Asiedu, Director of Research for West Africa at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
Participants will reflect and take stock of sustainable policies for enhancing the contribution of RTCs to global development, trade, and technology commercialization.

The event will 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 Honourable Minister for Agriculture & Rural Development, Dr Akin Adesina.

The Director General of IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, will also speak at the event.

The symposium activities will be mainly conducted in English, with all publications in English. Oral presentations can, however, be done in English or French, with simultaneous translations.

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