Toolbox for working with root, tuber and banana seed systems

A farmer in her Cassava plantation Photo: G.Smith/CIAT

Eleven tools to diagnose, evaluate and improve seed systems of roots, tubers, bananas and other crops for researchers, practitioners and policymakers.

Why is the tool important?

Root, tuber and banana crops support more than a billion smallholders globally. Farmers need seeds for varieties that are high yielding, resistant to stresses, highly nutritious, or preferred by consumers.

To do this, people who breed seeds and people who work with seeds need to work together to address knowledge gaps such as:

  • what different types of farmers want from their crop varieties
  • the best ways to deliver seeds
  • keeping seeds healthy
  • appropriate seed regulatory frameworks.

Who is the tool for?

The toolbox can benefit anyone who works with seed systems: researchers, people who design projects or interventions and policymakers. It is not only relevant for roots, tubers and bananas.

How can I use the tool?

The tool offers 11 tools to diagnose, evaluate and improve seed systems of roots, tubers and bananas (and other crops):

  • multi-stakeholder framework
  • impact network analysis
  • seed tracker
  • integrated seed health approaches and models
  • seed tracing
  • small-N/exploratory case study
  • four-square method
  • means-end chain analysis
  • experimental auctions
  • seed regulatory framework analysis
  • sustainable early generation seed business analysis tool (SEGSBAT).

Each tool includes a user guide, at least one published paper, examples of questions that the tool can help answer, and considerations for including gender and disadvantaged social groups.

An interactive glossary of important terms used in root, tuber and banana seed systems aims to reduce the confusion around terminology.

The authors expect three outcomes from using the tools:

  • At the scientific level, a better understanding of the complex biophysical and socio-economic factors that affect seed systems of root, tuber and banana crops.
  • At the project level, interventions can be better designed, implemented and evaluated and can include a stronger focus on equity and gender.
  • At the policy level, informing the allocation of limited resources by donors and policymakers using scientific evidence.

When and how was it developed?

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) developed this tool in 2021. The authors are now working with people in-country to develop capacity to use the tools, and plan on hosting online training in future.

Where can I get the tool? Who can I contact?

Access the user guide for the toolbox online for a “guided tour”, or read more at the project introduction page from RTB. Contact Jorge Andrade-Piedra for more information:


RTB Gender Research Agenda 2019-2021
Report / Factsheet

RTB Gender Research Agenda 2019-2021

Tubers and Bananas CGIAR Research Program on Roots, 'RTB Gender Research Agenda 2019-2021', International Potato Center, 2019