By Elias Hakizimana.
In a bid to continue tackling the issue of lack of quality Irish potato seed system and avail enough seeds to farmers, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) in Partnership with International Potato Center (CIP) and Hinga Weze have launched six new varieties in Musanze District.
The new varieties which were given local names by potato seed multipliers are originated from CIP, an International potato center based in Peru, South America and were tested three times by multipliers before being released.
Basing on their respective testing codes, they were given new local names as follow: CIP394611.112 was named ‘Jyambere’ a local name that means development (move forward), CIP392797.22 was named ‘Twigire’ which means self-reliance, CIP378699.2 was named ‘Gisubizo’ (Response), CIP392657.8 was named ‘Cyerekezo’ which means a vision, CIP398190.89 was named ‘Seka’ which means laugh while SHANGI (the old name) by multipliers was renamed ‘Ndamira’ which means giving life.
Only Gisubizo that can produces 35 tons per hectare between three to four months and Jyambere that produces 25 tons per hectare within 120 days, other varieties can produce from 30 tons per hectare within 90 to 100 days and they are all resistant from viral diseases and can adapt to lowland and highland tropics.
The six new varieties are added to five varieties which were launched in February 2019 to make a total of 11 varieties. The new Irish potato varieties launched today were intensified with environment friendly-materials for industrial use. They are used as home food and are good for food processing factories (chipping and French fries) according to CIP and RAB experts.
Farmers welcome the varieties
Isaac Nzabarinda, a farmer and Irish potato seed multiplier from Kinigi Sector, Musanze District said that the new varieties come to respond to the issue of market, noting that the food processing factories used to reject their yield which was not on their production standards.
“This is a response for farmers and food processors because they are of good quality and promise financial income. For our current varieties, we could harvest between 20 to 25 tons per hectare but with the new ones we wish to harvest even 40 tons per hectare,” Nzabarinda said.
Philbert Ntitenguha, Potato Supply Manager of a local potato chips factory said that they are still having a challenge in accessing Irish potato yield from previous released varieties because farmers do not have them.
“We request RAB and these partners to avail the seeds to farmers for us to make a deep research on good quality for our production; we need to have special seeds for chips without deep eyes to avoid removal of big shelves, which is a loss,” He said.
Placide Rukundo, a researcher in charge of potato seeds in RAB said the new varieties have shallow eyes which cannot involve any loss while removing the shelves.
He said that the next step is to avail the seeds to multipliers so that farmers can access them easily. He noted that these varieties can even be productive at 60 tons per hectare depending on how the farmer has respected good agricultural practices.
Kirimi Sindi, CIP Senior Scientist and Country Manager said that the materials making the new varieties are good for processing, have environment benefits with very good protective materials and with less cost in terms of chemicals.
“Many farmers will solve the problem of seed system they had had, most of the released seeds will produce between 30 and 60 tons per hectare and even 40 and 70 tons. They are rich in Iron, Zinc and Vitamins, which was a shortage in our food system,” Kirimi said.
He said that apart from 11 Irish potato varieties, more than 40 new Irish potato varieties and 20 new sweet potato varieties are in the stations to be released soon.
“We need government and donor community to expand activities of seed intensification that go to farmers,” he said.
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