For cassava breeders Dr Elizabeth Parkes and Dr Peter Kulakow it’s vital to be well informed to be able to make decisions on what traits to prioritize for and why.

Both breeders recognize the need to assess the gender balance of choices at key decision points in the breeding process. And both acknowledge that G+ tools, developed by the CGIAR Gender and Breeding Initiative, in association with RTB, is the best approach for attaining that balance.

The G+ tools provide a practical, stepwise procedure that breeders can use to work in coordination with a social scientist to characterize the relevant gender differences among their target end-users or “customers” and then generate “gender impact” scores for any given trait.

“The G+ tools can help breeders understand and meet end-users needs and preferences better, so that when breeders market or disseminate new varieties, there will be easier acceptance,” said Kulakow who oversees breeding decisions and processes involved in breeding new cassava varieties at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). He indicated that any breeding effort requires an inter-disciplinary team of experts and that’s something the G+ tools can help facilitate.

Vitamin A Pro Cassava stem distribution with IITA-HarvestPlus Scientist, Cassava Breeder, Dr Elizabeth Parkes. Photo: IITA

IITA piloted the G+ tools in cassava breeding which “worked out well” according to Kulakow since IITA has an integrated gender team.

“G+ tools can enhance the synergy between breeders, food scientists and social scientists through interaction and discussion at every stage of breeding a new variety,” said Parkes who specializes in breeding biofortified cassava at IITA.

Parkes says that with the transition to One CGIAR, inter-disciplinary teamwork involving gender tools will become essential and can foster the balanced and inclusive impacts and outcomes which are the objectives of the One CGIAR public breeding sector.

Both breeders agree that awareness about G+ tools through training and webinars to the Breeding Community of Practice will help sensitize breeders about gender concepts.

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Left to Right: Elizabeth Parkes, Afolabi Agbona, Peter Kulakow of IITA and Hernan Ceballos, CIAT Plant breeder discussing on new cassava varieties in Ibadan. Photo: IITA.
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