CIP SSA newsletter Feb 2016


Stories and updates from the people and projects of CIP Sub-Saharan Africa – Newsletter Vol. 5, February 2016.  Gathering under the Acacia Tree will be published as a quarterly newsletter in February, May, August & November 2016.




Gathering under the Acacia Tree


Feb 2016 | Volume 5  



Welcome to the first edition of Gathering under the Acacia Tree for 2016! This publication is an opportunity to learn about what staff in sub-Saharan Africa have been up to over the last few months and to read about our plans for a busy and fruitful year ahead. 


The end of 2015 was a busy time for staff in the region so take a moment to read some popular blogs from the last few months which capture this work: Sweetpotato to fight vitamin A deficiency and reduce malnutrition case study released by Oakland Institute,  Crop harvested under Red Planet conditions will set course for Martian farming,  CIP delegates attend COP21 climate change talks in Paris and Sweetpotato pioneers present at Borlaug Dialogue.


Remember to stay up to date with what is happening at the International Potato Center by visiting in the news, our blogs and our stories with a difference sections of the CIP website. Happy reading! 



Transforming value chains for food & nutrition security


A new publication celebrates potato and sweetpotato in Africa! Potato and sweetpotato are two important crops that are rapidly increasing in importance in sub-Saharan Africa. Highly versatile and nutritionally rich, they can contribute to income generation, improving food security in the continent and addressing climate change.  


Capturing the recent advances made in tackling the bottlenecks facing potato and sweetpotato value chains, this newly published book titled Potato and Sweetpotato in Africa reviews six main themes. It begins with recent advances in breeding, before addressing potato and sweetpotato seed systems, disease and crop management, and innovations in marketing, processing and value chain management. Read more about this exciting publication here




African Potato Association in 2016



The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and the International Potato Center (CIP) will co-host the 10th Triennial Conference of the African Potato Association in Ethiopia. The conference will run from October 9th to 13th, 2016 in Addis Ababa at the ECA Conference Center. The call for abstracts closes February 19 2016. 


Read all about the 2016 event here and reflect back on the wonderful event that was the APA 2013 held in Naivasha, Kenya with this great video of the event. To stay up to date with the event be sure to sign up on the APA website and follow APA on Twitter and Facebook


Potato providing income opportunities for smallholder farmers



CIP recently launched a new project that will will reach 35,000 farmers with quality seed and other technologies to improve potato productivity and market access. The project builds on previous work done by CIP and partners to develop and validate technologies and delivery systems to ease some of the bottlenecks to scaling up potato and sweetpotato value chains, such as the seed system of these vegetatively propagated crops that has historically made it so difficult to manage devastating diseases. In Kenya, technologies and approaches are now available for scaling up with the potential to double smallholder potato yields from quality seed. The project has 3 key objectives: To develop at least 150 progressive smallholder farmers into seed potato businesses; To increase capacity of 28,500 smallholder potato farmers to increase yields by 30% and to improve seed and ware potato market coordination through access to market information by linking value chain actors.



Potato is among the fastest expanding food crops in Kenya, used increasingly by smallholder farmers for food security and income. They are relatively fast-maturing (4 months) and highly valued as reliable food security crops. Potato provides significant income opportunities for smallholders and enriches diets with minerals and vitamins. Consumption of potato in the country is growing rapidly to the extent that it is considered has the second most important staple food crop. In addition, the high demand for fast foods creating an increasing demand for processing quality potato varieties.  Opportunities within the seed potato value chain offer diverse entrepreneurial opportunities for smallholder farmers to large-scale professional farms and businesses, contributing to business development and economic growth.


A sweet story from Concern Worldwide




Check out this sweet story from our partner Concern Worldwide who we work with in Malawi on the scaling up sweetpotato through agriculture and nutrition project funded by UK Aid.  Concern Worldwide love sweet potatoes for their versatility: baked, mashed or in wedges and in Malawi communities are seeing even more benefits from sweetpotato.


Learn more about CIPs work in Malawi by taking a moment to read about Nankhwali Farms one of the largest commercial multipliers of quality sweetpotato planting material in the country and this fantastic locally adapted catalogue of varieties of orange fleshed sweetptoato (inspired by the orange fleshed sweetpotato for Africa 2014 catalogue) with information available in both English and the local language of Chichewa.




Potato & Sweetpotato in the media



There has been some great media coverage of CIP over the last few months. Including a fantastic piece from Public Radio International about why in Kenya so much depends on the orange fleshed sweetpotato (be sure to listen to the fantastic audio piece linked to the story!); the unveiling of orange fleshed sweetpotato potential in Nigeria; read about drone technology and research in Uganda as well as a great piece from Latin America about CIPs collaboration with NASA trying to grow potatoes for “Mars!  


Stories that make a difference…




Stories that make a difference: Photos are a fantastic way to capture and understand the world around us. Here you can view a collection of colorful and engaging photo stories about the work that the International Potato Center does around the globe to improve nutrition, food security and livelihoods through roots and tubers. We hope that you enjoy exploring our work and getting to know the staff, partners and farmers that we work with day in, day out. 


See what CIP is up to in Rwanda where we work with OFSP farmers to improve livelihoods and nutrition; learn how CIP is re-inventing traditional foods with OFSP; how farmers are educating others about the benefits of OFSP and why we love sweetpotato here in sub-Saharan Africa!


In Malawi, see how CIP is going orange with sweetpotato; learn about which variety of sweetpotato is best for you; read about how farmers in rural Malawi like to eat their sweetpotato  and get updates on how CIP is taking sweetpotato from farm to table


Drone study of sweetpotato fields 




Flying a specially equipped drone, a team of CIP researchers from South America and Africa has successfully used remote-sensing technology to obtain data on orange-fleshed sweetpotato fields in East Africa.  The joint study ran for two weeks from late April through early May in Tanzania, where the sweetpotato is increasingly grown by smallholder farmers. Initial image-processing and other analysis of the drone data were completed recently back at CIP-Lima. Read the full story here


RTB-Endure activities in Uganda



Learn more about the RTB ENDURE project by viewing this collection of images from a recent communications trip to Uganda to visit our work with sweetpotato, potato, cassava and banana. 


RTB-ENDURE is a 3 year project (2014-2016) focused on Expanding utilization of roots, tubers and bananas and reducing their post-harvest losses. The project is implemented by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas with funding by the European Union and technical support of IFAD, aims at addressing these challenges and opportunities. 


To stay up to date with the CGIAR program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas you can visit the RTB website, visit them on Flickr for a great collection of images, engage with them via social media channels  Twitter and Facebook and view media coverage from RTB project in SSA, LAC and Asia. 



A picture is worth a thousand words


The CIP sub-Saharan Africa regional image database is a great way to see what CIP staff, field workers and partners are up to in the field.

Take a moment to browse through the colorful albums of the CIP SSA 2015 Christmas Party; the launch of ambient potato stores in Mbale, Uganda; the I Love Sweetpotato exhibition in Kigali, Rwanda and sweetpotato silage production as part of RTB Endure project in Uganda.

Don’t stop at Flickr – also visit CIP via our social media channels to stay up to date with our blogs, news, images and projects in the region. Join our 5000 fans on Twitter @Cipotato and our 6000 fans on Facebook to stay engaged and up to date whereever you are!




Join us for an online conversation!


The social media team at CIP is always looking for new material to share with our online community. So next time you read an interesting article about potato breeding, come across a great sweetpotato recipe, or find a video about nutrition in East Africa – please let us know.  Join CIP on Facebook and Twitter to be part of our online conversation.  Interested in reading past issues of the CIP SSA newsletter? Read them here


Do you have a story to tell? We would love to hear from you! Please submit relevant stories, photos and updates to Sara Quinn, CIP SSA Regional Communications Specialist at


All submissions will be reviewed and some will be selected for publication in the next edition of the newsletter. If your story does not appear here the CIP communications team will use the content across our social media channels and website



Related Sites 




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where @Cipotato works #sweetpotato

w/ @allafrica


RT @rackatia: If you know how cost

effective eating 125g #orange

#sweetpotato daily is to meeting daily

Vit A requirements, you will love it

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