RWANDA – The International Potato Center (CIP), the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), and various stakeholders, seek to boost potato production and enhance food security in Rwanda with the introduction of 11 new potato varieties.

These varieties, introduced between 2019 and 2022, include Ndamira, Cyerekezo, Kazeneza, and others, will address the longstanding challenges faced by the sector.

According to CIP, the shortage of quality seed for improved potato varieties has hindered the growth of Rwanda’s potato industry.

Limited capacity among seed multipliers to produce enough quality seed has been a major concern. The lengthy and expensive process involved in seed production further exacerbates the issue.

However, efforts from public and private sector players, including RAB, the Early Generation Seed Production (EGSP), and Agriseed, are gradually addressing this challenge.

The release of these new potato varieties has brought about significant improvements in the industry. Theophile Ndacyayisenga, a researcher at RAB, highlights the positive impact of these varieties on farmers.

“The availability of the 11 new potato varieties provides farmers with a wider range of options for cultivation, enhancing household food security and farm incomes,” Ndacyayisenga explains.

Despite the potential benefits of the new varieties, their adoption among farmers remains modest. To address this, collaborative efforts are underway to raise awareness and promote the adoption of these varieties.

Innovative approaches, such as establishing learning sites and demonstration plots, are being employed to showcase the benefits of these varieties to farmers.

James Mudaheranwa, Chief Agronomist at Seed Potato Fund (SPF) Joint Ventures, emphasizes the importance of supporting seed multipliers in the country.

With assistance from the Government of Rwanda and other stakeholders, initiatives like the Early Generation Seed Production (EGSP) have been established to increase seed production.

Investments in seed multiplication facilities, including tissue culture labs and greenhouses, are further supporting the growth of the potato industry.

Efforts to distribute the new potato varieties to farmers are underway, facilitated by organizations like SPF Ikigega. Through collaborations with CIP and RAB, SPF Ikigega has distributed seed of the new varieties to thousands of farmers across the country.

Farmers appreciate the higher yields and improved traits offered by these new varieties, which contribute to sustainable potato production and food security.

By promoting the adoption of new varieties, supporting seed multiplication, and enhancing agricultural practices, Rwanda aims to propel its potato industry into a new era of growth and prosperity.

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