Due recognition deserve the scientists conforming the impact evaluation team of the Cassava Program at CIAT, who achieved the largest number of downloads during 2017-2018 of the paper: Household Determinants of the Adoption of Improved Cassava Varieties using DNA Fingerprinting to Identify Varieties in Farmer Fields: A Case Study in Colombia.

The case study was published in the Journal of Agricultural Economics (JAE) and funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), with the collaboration of Georgetown University’s Global Human Development Program.

The study aimed to examine the factors affecting the adoption of improved cassava varieties through a representative sample of households from the Cauca department, in southwestern Colombia. Additionally, the study documents evidence about the impacts of CIAT’s breeding program, especially on cassava.

One of the main contributions of the paper published was the verification of the identity of varieties using DNA fingerprinting on cassava plant samples from every household involved in the study. Conventional studies on the adoption or impact of crop varieties face the challenge of ascertaining the identity of varieties in farmers’ fields.

In Colombia and other places, farmers obtain these varieties by formal means, such as through extension officers, i.e., the people providing advice on crop management, or they acquire the planting materials by informal channels, e.g., through other farmers. This aspect makes the identification of varieties quite difficult, just by the name provided by farmers themselves on traditional household surveys.

The DNA fingerprinting technique allows scientists to analyze the genetic characteristics or the unique identity of organisms – cassava, in this case. For plants, leaves are usually the best source of DNA. Mainstreaming the genetic identification of crop varieties in adoption and impact studies has enabled the development of better analyses and to provide better information to strengthen the genetic improvement of crops.

For further information about the team leading the publication, please contact Ricardo Labarta (r.labarta@cgiar.org), Luis Augusto Becerra (l.a.becerra@cgiar.org), Victorino Floro, Tatiana Ovalle (t.m.ovalle@cgiar.org), or other CIAT scientists involved in the project.

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