Roots, tubers and bananas are vegetatively propagated crops, which offer great opportunities and also pose unique challenges.
The plants stay true to type, and farmers can easily spread improved varieties in their communities. However, planting material is often bulky and perishable, so needs to be produced locally. High-quality seed can be expensive, leading many farmers, especially women, to save their own. But even if carefully maintained, crops accumulate pests and diseases that result in yields degenerating over time.
Around the world, women are often responsible for maintaining planting material, especially for crops grown for home consumption and local sales. Any improved seed system must therefore understand the constraints women face if it is to work for them. At the same time, commercialization of RTB crops makes improved planting materials available for sale, but these systems are usually based on networks dominated by relatively-wealthy men and do not necessarily benefit resource-poor women, men and young people. RTB has developed tools to enhance the understanding of gender in seed systems, which in turn can help to improve seed system interventions and inform the policy making process to reflect the needs of different seed system actors.