CIP Newsletter – September 2015

CIP Shines at the World Potato Congress 

Barbara Wells delivers keynote address

The International Potato Center’s (CIP) presence is being felt at the World Potato Congress (WPC). Not only was Barbara Wells, CIP director general, a keynote speaker at the 9th WPC in Beijing last July, but Peru is poised to host the next congress in 2018. Scientists and industry leaders from all sides of the potato production and processing spectrum attend the congress. More than 800 attendees made the trek to Beijing and a similar number is expected to attend the next congress in Peru.

“We have a tool in the potato to fight hunger and under-nutrition and lift people out of poverty,” Wells said in her speech as she encouraged participants to find synergies between the public and private spheres to provide pro-poor varieties of potatoes and market opportunities to the more than 1 billion people living on less than a dollar a day.

 “What is different in 2015 is the playing field for potato has changed,” Wells said. “The world is producing and consuming potatoes more than ever before. The opportunities to provide pro‐poor varieties and technologies where potato already exists are clear.”

Wells challenged attendees to work together to “connect the dots between what you do and these opportunities. No matter what your role in the industry is, there is a place for you to contribute to food security around the world.

The triennial event is organized by the non-profit World Potato Congress (WPC) Inc., which is dedicated to supporting the global growth and development of the potato. The designation of Peru as host country marks the WPC’s first congress on Latin American soil. It will be held in the Peruvian city of Cusco. The former capital of the Incan empire, Cusco lies in a region where people have been growing potatoes for thousands of years.

CIP played an important role in that effort as one of six institutions in a team that convinced the WPC board to choose Peru. CIP researcher Miguel Ordinola, who represented CIP in that process, explained that Peru’s selling points included the fact that it lies within the potato’s center of origin and holds the world’s greatest potato biodiversity, with approximately 3,000 varieties.
“This is an opportunity for Peru to show its potato biodiversity to the world,” he said. “Those native potatoes hold solutions for many of the problems that potato farmers face around the world.”


The International Potato Center (CIP) Annual Report 2014 is out and available online. Read it and learn about CIP’s continued upward trend in financial health. Find stories on CIPs cross-cutting themes in gender, partnerships and capacity building.  

6TH Annual Technical Meeting of Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI)
‘Together… 10 million by 2020’

29 Sept – 2 Oct 2015
Hotel Villa Portofino in Kigali Rwanda
More details available
@oursweetpotato on Twitter – hashtag #SPHI2015

Annans partner with CIP to promote orange-fleshed sweetpotato in Ghana

Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and his wife Nane Annan, continued to show their support for harnessing the power of the sweetpotato by visiting a sweetpotato trial field in Nyankapala, Ghana on August 14th.  The highly productive climate smart sweetpotato has tremendous potential to contribute to Ghana’s agriculture development— its relatively low entry cost for producers coupled with harvests 3 to 4 times a year provide ample opportunities for employment.
The Annans have teamed up with the International Potato Center (CIP) to promote the development of orange-fleshed sweetpotato. They are key partners in helping CIP meet its goal of reaching an estimated 500,000 households in Ghana with resilient nutritious orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) by 2020.

On the agenda was a visit to OFSP vine multiplier, Dauda Zakaria. His business has tripled since 2013 when he started with .5 acres and now cultivates 1.5. The OFSP awareness raising campaigns are the secret to his success; radio broadcasts that have been instrumental in helping to increase demand for OFSP and drive customers to his business. “The radio programs opened a window for (the) sale of vines at c
ommunity markets,” Zakaria says. “Any time I want to take vines to the market, I make (an) announcement on the local radio and buyers rush on me and finish (my) vines even before the market opens.” CIP and its partner the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI) have also helped to facilitate market linkages through Durbars(community meetings) at local markets which brought buyers together. “The Durbars created an avenue for me to sell vines and make contacts with buyers such as farmers, food vendors, caterers, restaurants and farmer organizations,” Zakaria says.

The field visit was followed up with a luncheon featuring OFSP and a stakeholder discussion dedicated to mapping out a strategy to “encourage the adoption of OFSP for both health and wealth.” More than 30 organizations including government ministries and local and international entities were invited to participate.


USAID and CIP improve the welfare of smallholder potato farmers in Tajikistan 

CIP potato farmers in Tajikstan were visited by David Lane, UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture ambassador. Potato is an extremely important staple food in Central Asia, where it is often referred to as the “second bread”. Yet small-scale potato growers face challenges of drought, soil degradation and salination.

Ambassador Lane was interested in seeing how the United States and the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies are collaborating to promote agricultural development in Tajikistan. With a grant from the United States Agency for International Development under the Feed the Future Initiative CIP has helped to introduce high yield potatoes rich in iron and zinc that are adapted to the local growing conditions including drought, salination, and heat.

The two-year program known as the Potato Production Support and Research Project to Improve Food Security in Khatlon, Tajikistan, has taught farmers how to use the early-maturing and stress tolerant potatoes to their advantage. The water friendly potato variety has great potential in southern Tajikstan where water resource management is a major constraint. In addition to being introduced to new technologies and irrigation methods farmers have also learned to intercrop potatoes with wheat and cotton to intensify land usage and boost incomes. The project provided adapted potato variety germplasms along with agricultural extension, training and materials, and introduced a model of a modern potato production farm that produces seed potatoes in the Spring and Fall growing seasons.

Farmers are expected to gain an additional income of approximately $6,800 USD/ha as soon as the second growing season thanks to mapping and value chain creation. Karimova Zaynura, a farmer from Kumsangir district, planted CIP potatoes in 2014. She said, “New potato varieties provided by CIP are four times more productive and much tastier in comparison to local varieties. My children eat this potato with pleasure. I already can ensure my family with a seed potato for summer growing season from the first harvest. It was a big challenge in the past, because seed potatoes for the second growing season are not readily available.” Another farmer, Samiev Abubakir, says this year he will sell seed potatoes produced on his farm during the first growing season to other farmers seeking high quality seed potatoes for the second growing season. Smallholder farmers can earn an additional $100 to $120 USD on 181 square meters over 90 days.


Seed for improved food security in Sub-Saharan Africa 

On April 2015, a year after sweepotato scientists and development practitioners established the Sweetpotato Seed Systems Community of Practice, 40 sweetpotato specialists traveled from all corners of Africa to Kigali, Rwanda to tackle the issues around farmers’ seed constraints. The two-day meeting was part of the Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI).

Sweetpotato is a critical food security crop in many countries, where it supplements households’ diets when other staples fail. It has a short growing season and produces substantial yields even under unpredictable rainfall patterns. But the potential of this ‘wonder’ crop is yet to be adequately exploited. One of the most critical constraints facing sweetpotato production is a lack of sufficient and timely access to disease-free or ‘clean’ planting material.

Community of practice participants are exposed to the latest innovations in sweetpotato production such as the Triple S (Sand, Storage and Sprouting) being tested and promoted in Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Normally, it is the task of women farmers to keep a small plot of sweetpotato irrigated through the dry season to ensure the survival of some vines for planting in the next season. Instead, with Triple S farmers can store small roots in sand during the dry season and then plant them out in small seedbeds 6-8 weeks before the rains are expected. By watering the seedbed, the roots will sprout and provide cuttings to plant for root production.

A scheduled field trip introduced attendees to a low cost net tunnel. These tunnels protect initial ‘clean’ seed stock from the whiteflies and aphids that are responsible for spreading sweetpotato virus diseases. In-depth discussions ensued about the practical and commercial viability of these initiatives.
The community of practice is open to both individuals and organizations with the goal that members will learn and exchange experiences on how to address challenges related to sweetpotato seed system research and development.  Members learn through an Internet based “virtual community” as well as through face-to-face meetings such as the one that was recently concluded in Kigali. Back in their home countries the members work together with farmers to address two key challenges: how to ensure the survival of planting material in areas with extended dry periods and how to avoid the build-up of pests and diseases as sweetpotato vines are re-cycled from one season to the next. 

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