Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture through Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) and partners are ready to release a first batch of six new potato varieties out of 21 clones of potato varieties under trials in Musanze District, an agricultural zone known for the Kinigi potatos.
Officials say new potato varieties are heat tolerant so they could be grown in hot zones of the Eastern province of Rwanda.
According to RAB officials, “This is an achievement from the joint efforts of RAB, International Potato Centre (CIP), University of Rwanda, INES Ruhengeri and USAID among many others.”
Varieties which are at the final testing stage and waiting for the release include, Gikungu, Kirundo, Kinigi, CIP393077-159, among many others.
CIP has already collected trial data from 26 sites across the country, produced 38,760 vitro plantlets and worked with 24 lead farmers on seed multiplication. This private sector driven model will respond to the farmers’ growing and unmet need for improved, certified and clean potato seeds, which will increase productivity for potato growers and increase investment in potato processing in Rwanda.
Topafricanews.com has visited the trial stations located in Muhoza, Kinigi and Cyuve sectors where farmers acknowledged that “once the new varieties are released to small farmers they are expecting harvests improvement both in quantity and quality.”
USAID, CIP partner to support RAB
In the meantime, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said, they have already released more than $100 million to support Rwanda’s economy growth.
According to USAID Deputy Mission in Rwanda, Kevin Armstrong “The USAID understands that supporting International Potato Centre and other research institutions is to increase farmers’ productivity…and it’s our hope that the partnership will help not only getting money from the products but also providing food for Rwandans.”
Kevin was speaking on Monday, 1st August 2018, at the official launch of partnership between USAID & International Potato Center (CIP during an event took place in Musanze District at RAB’s Northern Province branch.
The partnership aims to evaluate and select Disease Resistant Potato varieties with good processing qualities for Rwanda.
According to scientific studies there is about 5,000 different varieties of potato, most of which are found only in the Andes
In Rwanda, scientists and researchers are testing 21 varieties, thanks to the support of CIP through its Rwanda branch.
Speaking to Topafricanews.com, Kirimi Sindi, the CIP country manager said that the 21 varieties are being tested for different purposes.
He said “There are some who are being tested for processing, others for cooking and then there are others which will be grown in dry areas like the eastern part of the country.”
He explained that the partnership is between the CIP and USAID through its Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth (PSDAG).
Kirimi noted that they are working to make sure that at least farmers have 10 varieties by mid next year (2019).
According to statistics a big number of Rwandans are looking for one variety which is called KINIGI.
Kirimi said “We want to make sure that farmers are able to choose between more than one variety”.