The 1st East Africa Potato Network Breeders Meeting took place from 2nd-4th May in Nairobi, Kenya. It was organized by the International Potato Center (CIP) in collaboration with ABI-Transform and RTB breeding project. The meeting brought together potato experts from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ethiopia to discuss common challenges and opportunities in the region, identify breeding strategies to improve crop yield, and establish a regional breeding network. During the meeting, common challenges and opportunities were identified through country-specific group discussions, group work, Q&A sessions, and plenary presentations.
According to Atsede Solomon Retta from EIAR, Ethiopia, “The establishment of East African potato breeding network is crucial to improve the potato breeding program in each member country combining efforts and efficient utilization of the limited resources, avoiding redundant efforts and sharing of the available facilities.”
The establishment of the East Africa Potato Breeding Network is expected to facilitate collaboration and communication among potato researchers, enhance the understanding of the genetic and environmental factors that affect potato breeding, promote greater access to diverse genetic resources for potato breeding, accelerate the development of demand-driven potato varieties with improved traits, and increase dissemination and adoption of improved potato varieties by farmers and consumers.
Susan Otieno, a participant from Kenya, added, “Establishing a potato breeding network will accelerate the development of demand-driven potato varieties.”
“The East Africa potato breeding network is the right platform for potato breeders to know potato breeding opportunities and set common potato breeding goals at both the regional and country levels,” said Animut Tarik, a potato breeder from the National Potato Research Program in Adet, Ethiopia.
The East Africa Potato Breeding Network is a significant step towards improving the potato industry in the region. By combining efforts and efficiently utilizing limited resources, this network will facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing among potato breeders and researchers to enhance potato varieties and crop productivity, ultimately improving food security and boosting income for smallholder farmers in East Africa.