Market Intelligence and Incentive-Based Trait Ranking for Plant Breeding: A Sweetpotato Pilot in Uganda
Crop breeding programs must accelerate crop improvement, spur widespread adoption of new varieties and increase variety turnover they are to meet the diverse needs of their clients. More comprehensive quantitative approaches are needed to better inform breeding programs about the preferred traits among farmers and other actors. However, the ability of current breeding programs to meet the demands of their clients is limited by the lack of insights about value chain actor preference for individual or packages of traits. Ranking traits based on monetary incentives, rather than subjective values, represents a more comprehensive, consistent, and quantitative approach to inform breeding programs. We conducted a large pilot in Uganda to assess the implementation of a novel approach to trait ranking, using a uniquely large sample of diverse sweetpotato value chain actors. We found meaningful differences in trait ranking and heterogeneity among different actors using this approach. We also show our approach’s effectiveness at uncovering unmet demand for root quality traits and at characterizing the substantial trait demand heterogeneity among value chain players. Implementing this approach more broadly for sweetpotato and other crops would increase the effectiveness of breeding programs to improve food security in developing countries.