A multi-disciplinery team researching the food system linkages of sweet potatoes carried out four week-long rapid rural appraisals (RRAs) in the uplands of northern Philippines. The aim was to involve farmers in identifying needs and opportunities for research and development. It was found that sweet potato is grown mainly for subsistence and/or as feed for swine, and that all the work except for the fencing of plots is carried out by women. Sweet potato is an important substitute for rice, especially in times of food shortage. The information was then verified in a dialogue forum involving equal numbers of men and women farmers, extensionists, researchers and policymakers. During the dialogue forum all those involved identified the most suitable areas for sweet potato research, which were then ranked according to various criteria to establish priorities.