RWANDA – Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) and Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (RICA) have sent six potato experts on diagnostics skills training in Kenya.

The 5-day intensive training was held at the Centre of Phytosanitary Excellence (COPE), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) between 7th – 11th August 2023.

The team included Theophile  Ndacyayisenga, a potato breeder-RAB, Anastase Nduwayezu, a potato pathologist-RAB, and four lab technicians at RAB and RICA- Edmond Gasumba, Fidela Nikuze, Jonathan Nayigiziki, and Jacques Ndayambaje.

The team also received one-day training at NemAfrica lab at ICIPE and Kevian Ltd /Hanna Roses in Thika.

They also had the privilege to visit the International Potato Center (CIP) Biotechnology/Genomic facility to see and appreciate genetic engineering work on potatoes by CIP.

CIP, through the two USAID-funded potato projects implemented in Rwanda – Partnership for Seed Potato Technology Transfer in Africa (PASTTA2) and Accelerated Innovation Delivery Initiative in The Great Lakes Region (AID-I GLR) organized all the trainings/visits.

The overall objective of the training program was to expose and share experiences with the two project partners- RAB and RICA- on producing quality early seed generation (EGS) for potatoes.

This was a demand-driven activity, having been prioritized by the two partners during the project start-up meeting early in the year.

At COPE/KEPHIS, the team gained new skills in virus cleaning and indexing, virus elimination techniques by Thermotherapy and Meristem, initiation of explants to TC, Meristem extraction/culture, and DAS-ELISA protocols.

They also gained skills in Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) for virus detection and bacterial wilt as well as Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) extraction and identification.

Quality seed potatoes are crucial for achieving high crop yields, disease resistance, and improved overall productivity.

In Rwanda, the majority of farmers still rely on informal seed systems, resulting in low-quality seed potatoes that are susceptible to diseases and pests.

This not only affects the yield but also poses a risk of spreading diseases to other potato fields, leading to significant economic losses.

Therefore, improving the production of quality seed potatoes is essential for sustainable agriculture and food security in Rwanda.

By adopting modern techniques and best practices, Rwanda can improve its potato farming sector, ensuring food security, increasing incomes, and contributing to overall economic growth.

Continued investments in training and capacity-building programs will be crucial to sustain the momentum and drive further advancements in the potato value chain in Rwanda.

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