The RTBfoods project, which has an initial budget of 11.5 million euros over five years, will be implemented with five partner countries: Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Uganda. It will analyze three common uses of each target crops (cassava, yam, sweet potato, plantain and tropical potato). The analysis will use a reverse engineering approach, working backwards from consumers to breeders.
To this end, RTBfoods will focus on five work packages:
- The first will look at socioeconomic aspects in order to answer the following question: along the value chain, what are the criteria that determine whether a variety will be adopted or rejected? Aspects linked to gender (role of women and children in decision-making) will be closely looked at.
- The second will establish the link between the above users criteria and the biophysical properties of different varieties: how do people’s preferences (texture, consistency, taste, etc.) relate to biophysical data (starch and fiber content, etc.)?
- The third will build on CIRAD’s expertise in terms of near-infrared spectroscopy analysis (NIRS). This technology serves to detect the biological compounds that make up food matrices: it is used as a fingerprint of foodstuffs, providing information on certain quality traits (cooking quality, firmness, etc.). This approach allows breeders to predict the quality traits of their new varieties.
- The fourth will investigate the genetic components of quality traits and assess the impact of the environment on their variability, such as the climate, the soil, etc.
- Lastly, the fifth will assess whether the approach taken by RTBfoods has ensured that breeders increase their use of selection tools for quality traits, and that new varieties better match the users’ quality criteria.