The Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Rwanda Agricultural and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) and the International Potato Center (CIP) will cohost the 11th triennial African Potato Association (APA) conference in Kigali, Rwanda. The conference will run from 25th to 29th August 2019 at the Kigali Marriott Hotel.
The first day (25th August) will include a few speeches by the APA 2019 President, Dr. Charles Bucagu, and the Director of CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas, Dr. Graham Thiele.
The conference themed, “Leveraging the contribution of potato and sweet potato for sustainable nutritious food systems” is expected to bring together close to 200 participants. These will include researchers, development practitioners, policy-makers and entrepreneurs drawn from over 20 African countries and abroad to exchange knowledge and experiences on potato and sweet potato. Local and international private sector representatives will have the opportunity to explore potential investment opportunities in potato and sweet potato-based agribusinesses. The APA Conference will provide room for researchers to present their latest findings, conduct panel discussions with relevant stakeholders and to strengthen cooperation in the sector to continue to grow the potato and sweet potato success story in Africa.
The APA Conference also enables scientists to engage with other stakeholders (development agents, input dealers, innovative farmers, etc.) who will participate through exhibitions. This year, twenty-two (22) agriculture research institutes, local and international NGOs and private companies involved in the agriculture value chain will hold exhibitions showcasing what they do. Some of these include Tanzania Agricultural Modernization Association (TAMA), Agriterra, Bayer East Africa Ltd, BMC products Co., Zambia Agriculture Research Institute, the USAID Hinga Weze, Potatoes South Africa, Syngenta and many others.
The Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana will be the guest of honor and will deliver an official opening speech as she gives a reflection of the achievements in the agricultural sector in Rwanda over the past decade. She is a keynote speaker alongside many others including Romain Cools, the President and CEO of the World Potato Congress Inc. and Dr. Amy Webb Girard, an Associate Professor at the Hubert Department of Global Health. The conference will run through Monday the 26th to Wednesday 28th August with each day scheduled with different keynote speakers. Some of these speakers include senior scientists, breeders and researchers, as well as key policy makers from different organizations across Africa.
The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) has sponsored young scientists who will be featured at the conference. They will showcase their experiences in research through scientific posters, participation in panel and oral discussions which have been scheduled to take place throughout the three day-meeting.
There will be a field trip on the 29th August, which will showcase how the Rwandan agriculture sector is performing, with emphasis on the potato and sweet potato industries. APA participants will visit the potato value chain in the north at the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) Musanze station, SOPYRWA (for potato seed production) and Hollanda FairFoods for potato processing. For the sweet potato value chain in the north, guests will visit Sina Gerald Urwibutso Enterprise (sweet potato processing) and Koperative Terimbere Muhinzi (KOTEMU) Farmers’ group in Rulindo (sweetpotato vine multiplication and root production). Other trips will include the sweet potato value chain in the south at Rubona RAB station and in the east at Bralirwa and Minimex (BRAMIN) Farm for mechanized agriculture. During the field trips, journalists will be able to hear stories from farmers about where they have come from and where they are today due to the cultivation of potato and sweet potato. Field trips will also give opportunity to explore the progress of the potato and sweet potato industry including the progress in mechanized agriculture.
What potatoes and sweet potatoes mean to Rwanda:
In Rwanda, about 70% of the population is engaged in the agricultural sector. Farmers grow staple and cash crops among these are the potato and sweet potato which they have grown and been eaten for nearly a century. Over time, these crops have gained popularity. Rwanda is now the third largest consumer of sweet potato in Africa where 9 out of 10 households cultivate sweet potato. Potatoes rank second after bananas in terms of production making the country the 6th largest producer in Africa.
Sweet potato is grown by over 1.2 million farmers all over the country commonly in the southern province, Northern Province and some districts of the western and eastern provinces. The potato is grown mainly in the districts of Musanze, Burera Nyabihu and Rubavu in the north-western provinces as the highest potato producers. The potato underpins Rwanda’s food security with a high annual consumption of 125 kg/ person, making potato the country’s second most important source of calorie intake after cassava.
The APA is an association that was formed in 1983 to provide a forum for agricultural research centres and researchers across Africa. The APA’s main aim is to develop small holder farmers and to promote agriculture economic growth and improve health in Africa. The APA’s core objective is to promote production and utilization of potato and sweet potato for food and nutrition security in Africa. Additionally, the association facilitates knowledge sharing and learning by bringing together diverse stakeholders in the potato sector across Africa.
For more information about the APA conference:
Visit the APA website https://africanpotatoassociation.org/ to access the detailed program, field trips descriptions, keynote speaker bios and much more information.
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