Productivity of potato, sweet potato is still low-agricultural experts say

By Elias Hakizimana.

The Minister of agriculture has said that average productivity of potato and sweet potato in Rwanda is ten tonnes and seven tonnes per hectare, respectively and that is low as compared to yield potential.

She revealed the information during the 11th triennial Conference of the African Potato Association (APA) themed: “Leveraging the contribution of potato and sweet potato for sustainable nutritious food systems.”

It gathered more than 200 researchers, decision makers and development partners from 20 African countries in Kigali from the 26th to 29th August 2019 at Kigali Marriott Hotel.

She said government collaborates with partners to address these challenges through research programs/

“From 2007, use of seed and inputs has significantly increased. For instance, about 86% of potato growers use improved varieties of Irish potatoes and about 89.0% of farmers apply inorganic fertilizers. Potato breeding programme released 21 potato varieties since 1983 and these are still under potato production system in Rwanda,” she said.

Rwanda Gov’t has aggressively invested in postharvest facilities, with 101 fully functional potato collection centres in major potato producing areas & additional investments are being made in collaboration with private sector and other partners to increase capacity, officials said.

The government has strategies to sustain the potato industry: seed production in the lab has increased from 20,000 plantlets in 2001 to 800,000 plantlets in 2017.

The Northern volcanic region accounts for more than 80% of national potato production, while the rest is produced on marginal plantations throughout the country.

“In this region, potato is the staple food with more than 60%of the production being used directly for home consumption,” she said.

In Rwanda, Potato is the third crop after Cassava and Sweet potato, in terms of volume of production, and it became an important cash crop in the Northern volcanic areas, highlands of Buberuka and Congo/Nile Divide

Potato and sweet potato cover respectively 3.9% and 5.2% of the total cultivated area.

Statistics of the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda indicate that the per capita consumption is 125kg for potato and 145 kg for sweet potato per year

Potato and Sweet potato are among the most important staple and cash crops in Rwanda, grown in range of agro-ecologies and producing over two million tons annually

“Sweet potato is an important food security and nutrition crop in Rwanda and contributes as source of family cash income.

In caloric terms, Sweet potatoes contribute to 21.6 % of the total national requirements,” officials added.

Minister Mukeshimana said sweet potato is an important food security and nutrition crop in Rwanda and contributes as source of family cash income.

“In caloric terms, Sweet potatoes contribute to 21.6 % of the total national requirements,” she noted.

She added that Rwanda has aggressively invested in postharvest facilities, with 101 fully functional potato collection centres in major potato producing areas & additional investments are being made in collaboration with private sector & other partners to increase capacity.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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