By: Kayiranga Justin
Farmers in Kayonza District of the Eastern Rwanda hope to enjoy the good harvest of sweetpotatoes after the International Potato Center and Rwanda Agriculture Board introduced new varieties as part of the Government’s Initiative to improve Agriculture Centre.
Esther, Kyabafrica, Cecilia, New Kawogo and Otada are the varieties which are be introduced to farmers in different corners of Rwanda.
This is in line with the government program of improving agriculture sector as well as targeting an increase of production for market and food security.
Damien Shumbusha, National Sweetpotato Program Leader at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), says that the government is putting effort in sweet potatoe production, by introducing orange fleshed varieties as they are rich in Vitamin A and also resistant to crop diseases.
“The ministry of agriculture has set a 7 years’ program of improving agriculture. So we are introducing new varieties which can be more productive” He says.
The varieties which are being introduced to farmers were under evaluation for the last three years, where RAB and International Potato Center (CIP Rwanda) were checking if they can keep being productive under the local climate.
Jean Claude Nshimiyimana a research associate at CIP Rwanda, states that all the varieties were evaluated and showed no distrust for being used.
He says “All the varieties you have seen, are of different origins. Some are from Rwanda others are from abroad like Mozambique and Tanzania. We bring all of them at one place, and the ones which show good conditions are taken to farmers. So these varieties will not only serve in food security but also fight malnutrition, and we, through technology, started to produce from them other eats like breads, biscuits…”
On another hand, famers are eager to see what production they will get from the new varieties just because of the way they got a huge harvest with other varieties like Kabode which were also brought by RAB and CIP Rwanda.
Uwemeyimana Jeanne D’Arc is a sweetpotatoe farmer from Kayonza district in Mukarange sector. In her testimony, she reveals how Kabode variety has been really productive in last season A to the level she was not sure she can get the market, but later she started selling them on different markets.
“Last season A, I had potatoes on one hectare. I supplied them till I was about to ask a help from CIP Rwanda as it was too much. But later I started looking for markets and I brought some to Kayonza market where I used to take 10 sacks and I had to share one sack with people for free as a sample so that they can taste my Kabode sweet potatoes variety.”
“That’s how I did campaigns and later after knowing them, some started to come from Kigali and buy them.” Testifies Jeanne D’Arc.
Apart from the newly introduced sweetpotatoe varieties, RAB states that 10 varieties are currently being planted by farmers across the country while there are other which are kept in the research center. With the new varieties CIP Rwanda calls on famers to follow the rules by avoiding traditional agriculture so that they can get a good produce from them.