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CIPeople: Kaiyun Xie: The many faces of a potato scientist

Apr 20 2015   |   By: kathleen   |   0   |  

Kaiyun Xie is a great example of the many disciplines that scientists at CIP must weave together to support our mission to contribute to food security, well-being, and gender equity for poor people in root and tuber farming and food systems in the developing world. From getting his hands dirty in field projects, increasingCIPeople-logo awareness of potatoes through the editorial help of books, writing research papers, to making potatoes accessible on a scientific level. Kaiyun is a major supporter of potatoes, loving all kinds. He believes it is very important to inform people about potatoes´ potential because many view it as a poor mans’ crop. “We need to improve the public awareness of potato and sweetpotato (other Andean RTCs) and let people know about CIP´s work on these crops. There are huge potential for cooperation with CIP on these crops,” he says.

Kaiyun is one of the top researchers for CIP’s -China Center for Asia and Pacific (CCCAP). He hold's bachelor’s degree from Huazhong Agriculture University followed by his Masters and his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science. During his master’s work in 1996, helping on a sweetpotato research project for soil erosion control in red soil of Southern China, Kaiyun got his first taste of CIP. “I knew it well because there was a Liaison Office located in Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences where my previous office is close to.” Following this first encounter, Kaiyun spent seven years working in the Institute of Vegetables and Flowers of Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science. In 2007 he entered CIP as Liaison Scientist.

Kaiyun Xie carries Coop88 potatoes in a farmer's field

Kaiyun Xie carries Coop88 potatoes in a farmer's field

His favorite thing about CIP is the potato germplasm in the genebank and its huge potential. “The development of new potato varieties has helped increase potato production in many countries.” For Kaiyun working in, his home country, China has had some setbacks. “As the key research staff in CIP (CCCAP), the biggest challenge for me is how to mobilize the international funds to support the research we are going to conduct in China because most of the international foundation/donors don’t think China is still a country which needs supports from outside China. However, for potato research, China is still an important country because of its low productivity and multiple ecological environments," says Kaiyrn. "The research results we get from China will be helpful to many developing countries.”

Despite these setbacks Kaiyun has helped increase awareness and funds for a better potato for the future. Along with increasing awareness of China’s potato diversity and uses Kaiyun, has collaborated on a book entitled “How the Chinese Eat Potatoes”, which he edited and for which he also collected about 300 potato dishes around China’s different regions.

Scaling up Sweetpotato through Agriculture & Nutrition – Annual Planning Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda

Apr 15 2015   |   By: saraquinn   |   0   |  

The 5-year regional project led by the International Potato Center (CIP) and the UK Department for International Development is working to enhance nutrition and food security of women and young children in East and Southern Africa through integrated agriculture - nutrition interventions utilizing orange - fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP). The project aims to reach 1.2 million farming households in Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, and Rwanda.

Country teams from Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Kenya joined regional staff from Uganda and Kenya in Kigali for a five-day discussion on all things OFSP! The meeting was a fantastic opportunity for staff from the 4 SUSTAIN countries to discuss, reflect and plan. The weeklong meeting included lively debate and technical discussions on issues of sweetpotato processing and markets; improving nutrition awareness and practices and disseminating sweetpotato vines.

The SUSTAIN team enjoying a moment outside at the beginning of the week long annual planning meeting The SUSTAIN team enjoying a moment outside at the beginning of the week long annual planning meeting (Credit: S. Quinn/CIP)

A highlight of the week was the field day in which meeting attendees visited project sites south of Kigali. Participants were able to walk the fields with a women’s group working on OFSP vine multiplication. A cooperative specializing in OFSP processing and food production showcased how they’ve successfully incorporated OFSP flour into some of their products including Queencakes. Two local farmers shared their first-hand experiences with OFSP roots and multiplying OFSP vines and the positive impact they’ve had on their families’ income and health. It was a fantastic day and a great opportunity to discuss ideas and generate debate on issues relating to OFSP production, utilization and nutrition.

OFSP products (OFSP Queencakes and OFSP Flour) on display at Indyo Inoze, a cooperative from Muhanga District which SUSTAIN staff visited during the field trip OFSP products (OFSP Queencakes and OFSP Flour) on display at Indyo Inoze, a cooperative from Muhanga District which SUSTAIN staff visited during the field trip (Credit: S. Quinn/CIP)

The week also presented the opportunity to officially launch SUSTAIN Rwanda at a fantastic event which saw partners, donors and media come together to celebrate the project. Read more about the launch here.

ABOUT SUSTAIN: SUSTAIN is a 5-year partnership (2013-2018), coordinated by CIP and financed by the UK Department for International Development, to scale up the nutrition benefits of biofortified orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP). The goal is to reach 1.2 million households with under-5 year old children in Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Rwanda. SUSTAIN supports integrated interventions in agriculture, nutrition, utilization and marketing to strengthen production and consumption of OFSP.

Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) have a huge potential for improving vitamin A status among young children and strengthening livelihoods in Rwanda. Biofortified, vitamin A rich OFSP varieties are an effective tool for reducing vitamin A deficiency (VAD) among children under five years of age, the group most at risk of VAD.

Jean Claude Nshimiyimana, Seed Systems Officer at CIP Rwanda discusses OFSP and SUSTAIN with the local media on a field trip to visit OFSP farmers, multipliers and processors Jean Claude Nshimiyimana, Seed Systems Officer at CIP Rwanda discusses OFSP and SUSTAIN with the local media on a field trip to visit OFSP farmers, multipliers and processors (Credit: S. Quinn/CIP)

VITA an OFSP variety grown in Rwanda VITA an OFSP variety grown in Rwanda (Credit: S. Quinn/CIP)

SUSTAIN Staff visiting an OFSP vine multiplier in Southern Rwanda SUSTAIN Staff visiting an OFSP vine multiplier in Southern Rwanda (Credit: S. Quinn/CIP)

SUSTAIN Staff enjoying the field visit to OFSP vine multipliers in Southern Rwanda SUSTAIN Staff enjoying the field visit to OFSP vine multipliers in Southern Rwanda (Credit: S. Quinn/CIP)

You can read more about the SUSTAIN project and CIP’s global Sweetpotato program here. See photos from the event on the CIP SSA Flickr site.

VISTA MOZAMBIQUE launches in Nampula, Mozambique

Apr 14 2015   |   By: saraquinn   |   1   |  

On March 17, 2015, the International Potato Center (CIP) launched a robust project the Viable Sweetpotato Technologies for Africa (VISTA) that aims to get OFSP directly into the hands of 25,000 Mozambican households with another 150,000 households indirectly benefitting from improved OFSP varieties and technologies. Investments in research and development over the last few years have generated improved technologies for sweetpotato which have in turn greatly improved nutrition, income and food security. The 3-year USAID funded “Feed the Future” initiative is being rolled out in collaboration with the Mozambique Agrarian Research Institute (IIAM) and the Government of Nampula.

VISTA aims to disseminate improved varieties of OFSP, conservation technologies for root vines, and behavior change messages that will lead to the increased adoption of OFSP into the local diet in 7 districts in the Zambezia (Gurué and High Molocué) and Nampula (Meconta, Monapo, Murrupula and Nampula-Rapale) provinces. The overall objective is to contribute to improved nutrition, food security and incomes of small-scale farmers and their families through increased production and better use of nutritious varieties of OFSP, especially for those most at risk of VAD. The dissemination of the drought tolerant OFSP will be associated with key messages on nutrition and during the three years of implementation the project. Previous CIP and Feed the Future OFSP interventions in Mozambique led to a 15% drop in VAD levels among small children.

More than 100 event attendees were entertained by a Cultural Group from CLUSA whose bright orange t-shirt mimicked the tell-tale color of OFSP. Among the guests were opening speaker Constantino Cuambe of IIAM; Pedro Zucule, the Provincial Director of Agriculture representing the Government of Nampula province; Feliciano Mazuze, the IIAM Director for Technologies Transfer; Sheryl Stumbras the Deputy Director for USAID Mission in Mozambique and the Tim Born, Director of Agriculture, Trade, and Business (ATB) at USAID-Mozambique.

“CIP will use all its means to achieve the targets of VISTA not only in Mozambique, but also in Malawi, and Tanzania,” Dr. Simon Heck, Sweetpotato Program Leader at CIP said. “Partnership will be essential in our intervention, and that is why CIP is very privileged to work with all project partners in Nampula and in Mozambique in General.”

After the official opening the group toured an exhibition of OFSP products followed by a field trip to a nearby sweetpotato multiplication plot established at PAN (IIAM-Research Station in Nampula) where they witnessed vines being distributed to beneficiaries. ”I am very honoured to be one of the first sweetpotato multipliers in the Nampula region of Mozambique,” said Vieira Sardinha Tuquiua, a DVM Decentralised Vine Multiplier from Murrupula district who has benefited from the work that CIP has done on OFSP in the region. “I look forward to working with CIP to make sure all the farmers around me get the new OFSP varities.”

It was a great event enjoyed by all who attended. See a collection of bright and colourful images from the event below or visit the CIP SSA Flickr site.

View of the performance of the Cultural Group of CLUSA during the opening of the VISTA launching (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa) View of the performance of the Cultural Group of CLUSA during the opening of the VISTA launching (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa)

Welcoming remarks by the Director of IIAM-Centro Zonal Nordeste in Nampula, Mr. Constantino Cuambe (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa) Welcoming remarks by the Director of IIAM-Centro Zonal Nordeste in Nampula, Mr. Constantino Cuambe (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa)

Dr Maria Andrade from CIP-Mozambique during her presentation (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa) Dr Maria Andrade from CIP-Mozambique during her presentation (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa)

The Decentralised Vine Multiplier Vieira Sardinha Tuquiua from Murrupula district shares his experience in relation to multiplication and distribution of vines (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa) The Decentralised Vine Multiplier Vieira Sardinha Tuquiua from Murrupula district shares his experience in relation to multiplication and distribution of vines (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa)

Mr Tim Born, from the USAID Mission in Mozambique (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa) Mr Tim Born, from the USAID Mission in Mozambique (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa)

Mr Feliciano Mazuze, speaking on behalf of DG of IIAM (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa) Mr Feliciano Mazuze, speaking on behalf of DG of IIAM (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa)

Mr Pedro Zucula, the representative of the Government of Nampula and the Ministry of Agriculture Mr Pedro Zucula, the representative of the Government of Nampula and the Ministry of Agriculture who officially proclaimed the VISTA-Mozambique launched (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa)

Display of OFSP technologies (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa and Abdul Naico) Display of OFSP technologies (credit to B. Rakotoarisoa and Abdul Naico)

SUSTAIN Rwanda officially launched in Kigali by Dr Jean Jacque Muhinda, Director General of Rwanda Agriculture Board

Apr 13 2015   |   By: saraquinn   |   0   |  

An enthusiastic group of 45 people gathered together on March 10th to officially launch the Scaling up Sweetpotato through Agriculture and Nutrition (SUSTAIN) project in Rwanda’s capital of Kigali. Bio-fortified, vitamin A rich Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) varieties are an effective tool for reducing vitamin A deficiency (VAD) among children under five years of age, the group most at risk of VAD and bolstering livelihoods in Rwanda. VAD can lead to increased susceptibility to infections and blindness.

Over the next five years SUSTAIN aims to reach 1.2 million households with children under the age of 5 in Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Rwanda with integrated interventions in agriculture, nutrition, utilization and marketing to increase and strengthen OFSP consumption and production. The launch saw a range of NGO's, private sector organizations, media and regional and district level agricultural experts come together to discuss SUSTAIN and the role of Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato in Rwanda and East Africa.

Attendees celebrating the launch of SUSTAIN Rwanda in Kigali on March 10
Attendees celebrating the launch of SUSTAIN Rwanda in Kigali on March 10 (Credit: S. Quinn/CIP)

The International Potato Center (CIP) managed project in Rwanda will scale up the development of an OFSP seed system, link beneficiaries to market through effective partnerships and integrate agriculture-nutrition health linkages to deliver OFSP to various segments of Rwandan households. By 2018 the project will reach an estimated 50,000 direct and 250,000 indirect Rwandan beneficiaries with young children with nutrition information and counseling in selected districts. Improved nutrition through dietary diversity and the increased OFSP consumption will also be emphasized at the household and community level.

Kirimi Sindi CIP Rwanda Country Manager engaging in a lively discussion with participants about OFSP and SUSTAIN in Rwanda
Kirimi Sindi CIP Rwanda Country Manager engaging in a lively discussion with participants about OFSP and SUSTAIN in Rwanda (Credit: S. Quinn, CIP)

Dr. Jean Jacque Muhinda, Director General of the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) a close collaborator with the SUSTAIN team officially launched the event. “In order to make a decisive impact on improving household and child nutrition, a comprehensive multi-sectorial policy and multi-partner action must be put into place,” he advised the attendees. “This is where a project like SUSTAIN can make a great contribution to the Rwanda society.” He went on to stress the importance of collaboration across sectors and stakeholders and gave project highlights on how SUSTAIN will meet its goals of helping farmers adopt new OFSP technologies; increase OFSP household consumption and encourage industrial diversified utilization of orange sweet potato.

Throughout the launch proceedings, Dr. Simon Heck SUSTAIN Project Leader and CIP Program Leader for Sweetpotato emphasized the importance of partnerships to the SUSTAIN program to achieve the programs ambitious goals of reaching 1.2 million households across 4 countries (Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Malawi) over the next 5 years. While a project officer from SUSTAIN funder UK Department for International Development spoke to the impact of investing in bio-fortified crops. “SUSTAIN Rwanda is taking place in the wider context of increased interest and investments in agriculture for nutrition and understanding what works. With a growing portfolio of bio-fortified crops being rolled out in Africa and South Asia, and strong evidence in efficacy of some of these new bio-fortified crops (including iron beans in Rwanda) there is now growing demand for robust evidence on impact of agricultural programs on nutrition.”

OFSP products on display at the launch of SUSTAIN Rwanda
OFSP products on display at the launch of SUSTAIN Rwanda (Credit: S. Quinn/CIP)

Launch participants sampled an array of OFSP products being produced by Indyo Inoze, a cooperative from Muhanga District including: breads, cakes, and biscuits. OFSP is a cost-effective and vitamin A rich substitute to wheat flour and can be used to replace up to 43% of the more costly grain in manufactured products. This led to an animated discussion around issues of seed systems and nutrition.

Dr Simon Heck, Program Leader, Sweetpotato at CIP answer questions from the local media
Dr Simon Heck, Program Leader, Sweetpotato at CIP answer questions from the local media (Credit: S. Quinn, CIP & A. Ndayisenga, CIP)

Local media was also in attendance demonstrating interest in agriculture and nutrition projects in the Rwanda context. After the launch two major media outlets invited to participate in radio shows: Jean Claude Nshimiyimana, Seed Systems Officer and Aime Communications officer with CIP Rwanda discussed OFSP, SUSTAIN and CIP during a 30 minute radio talk show at CONTACT FM and Nshiminyimana and Jean Ndirigwe, Head of Sweetpotato Program at RAB (Rwanda Agricultural Board) were invited to participate in a coveted 8-10 a.m. Sunday morning radio slot on Radio Rwanda to discuss OFSP for 90 minutes. The shows highlighted the health and income generation of OFSP and encouraged listeners to sample new OFSP varieties. The live format included call in features where listeners could ask questions about OFSP, SUSTAIN and CIP.

The interviews were a great way to highlight our strong collaborations with partners in Rwanda and to discuss new opportunities on the horizon. Well done to the Rwanda team on fantastic media outreach!

A collection of media coverage from the event can be viewed here.

You can read more about the SUSTAIN project and CIP’s global Sweetpotato program here. See photos from the event on the CIP SSA Flickr site.

CIP at the third Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA): What was shared?

Apr 09 2015   |   By: dieudonne   |   0   |  

The main purpose of this series of global science conferences is to widen the understanding of this now popular concept of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) through its three pillars, namely Food security, Adaptation and Mitigation. Also, it is an opportunity for partakers to identify key priorities for action and design a roadmap for future research on CSA. It is worth mentioning that the 4th Conference will be hosted by The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), venue and date are yet to be communicated.

CIP was represented at this global event by three scientists (Roberto Quiroz, Cecilia Turin and Dieudonné Harahagazwe) from the Productions Systems and the Environment (PSE) Sub-Program who made an oral presentation and presented two posters. The following paragraphs highlight key messages shared by CIP scientists at the conference.

Cecilia Turin (see photo) made a talk titled “Implications of losing the complementariness of gender roles on CSA strategies in the Peruvian Altiplano”. The talk was based on a compilation and analysis of 20-year CIP databases from 40 communities. The study showed that men’s migration not only reduced the access to men’s labor but also has interrupted the provision of climate information which used to be men’s domain. On the other hand, climate change increases women’s stress and vulnerability that drive them to opt for less sustainable strategies in their farming practices.

The two posters titled “Learning to face the challenges posed by climate change to Andean agriculture: teaching the farmers of the future” and “Participatory action research in climate-smart villages of Tanzania: fast track for new potato resilient varieties” were presented by R. Quiroz and D. Harahagazwe, respectively. The first poster outlines the importance of involving school children, both boys and girls in participatory work since they also count among farmers and policy makers of the future. CIP’s work involved the participation of 693 school children trained on nutritional status while producing vegetables in schools and family greenhouses. The nutritional training was complemented with information on conservation of native potato biodiversity, soil conservation, potato seed propagation, composting, crop rotation and reforestation.

Poster Altiplano

The story behind the second poster is a demand-driven study conducted in Tanzania as an attempt to address a couple of biotic and abiotic potato constraints. It is all about an intensive potato participatory action research comprising training-of-trainers, field experiments and transparent partnership. One of the key outcomes so far of this on-going study is that farmers recommended 4 genotypes for official released on the basis of their resilience to biotic and abiotic-induced constraints, and their high yielding ability and good organoleptic characteristics.

Poster Lushoto

For more information please contact Dr. Roberto Quiroz at r.quiroz@cgiar.org.