RWANDA – The Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has embarked on trials for innovative potato varieties in the Eastern Province in an effort to bolster Rwanda’s potato production.

These trials aim to expand cultivation, particularly in areas susceptible to hot climates, to enhance national potato yields.

The newly explored potato varieties, namely ‘cyerekezo’ and ‘twihaze,’ have showcased remarkable adaptability to hot regions and are particularly suited for irrigated lands.

Notably, the Eastern Province has dedicated 42,218 hectares for irrigation purposes, providing an ideal environment for these new varieties to thrive.

Theophile Ndacyayisenga, a distinguished potato scientist at RAB, highlighted the potential of the dominant trial varieties, projecting yields ranging from 25 to 40 tons per hectare—an encouraging leap in productivity.

Aligned with the objective of expanding cultivated land, Rwanda aims to achieve 63,328 hectares of Irish potato cultivation by the 2024 Season A.

Florence Uwamahoro, Deputy Director General of Agriculture at RAB, disclosed, in an interview, plans to extend Irish potato cultivation beyond the Eastern Province into new territories across the nation.

While potatoes have historically thrived in volcanic regions such as Burera, Musanze, Nyabihu, Rubavu, Nyaruguru, and Nyamagabe districts, Uwamahoro emphasized the necessity of promoting potato farming in the Eastern Province due to declining arable land in certain regions.

“Until now, those varieties under trial are promising even though the Eastern Province faces drought due to the hot climate,” she said.

“So, we are looking for good varieties to be grown here as priority crops since the area has a lot of land, which is not under pressure.”

Moreover, RAB’s endeavors extend to augmenting potato production in the Southern Province, particularly in Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe districts, aiming to elevate their agricultural output.

According to the Rwanda National Institute of Statistics (NISR), there is a decline in cultivated land for Irish potatoes, hence the need to explore new territories for potato cultivation.

On a global potato market outlook by the Observatory of Economic Complexity, Rwanda’s potato exports in 2021 totaled USD 861,000, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia being primary destinations.

Conversely, imports amounted to USD 183,000, primarily sourced from Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and the United Arab Emirates.

“The burgeoning export markets for Rwandan potatoes, notably in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic, signify potential growth opportunities,” reads the report.

“However, increased imports, particularly from Kenya, underscore the need for enhanced domestic production to mitigate dependency on external sources.”

 For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.