A New Dawn for Potato Farmers in Eastern Africa

Soil health and soil fertility are important components in the production of quality potato. In the Eastern Africa countries of Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia farmers often lack the technology and knowledge to realize optimum production of this valuable crop. These gaps have led to poor yields in the region and devastation for some potato growing households and communities.

“The New Potato Dawn” is a documentary released by the International Potato Center (CIP) and produced by Arica Drumbeat Communications that showcases efforts by scientists on the management of the bacterial wilt disease and improvement of soil fertility. The scientists from CIP, Egerton University in Kenya, Ethiopia Agricultural Research Institute, National Agriculture Institute (NARO) Uganda, the University of Nairobi, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and Boku University Vienna Austria relate how their research efforts have boosted production of quality potato by tenfold for both seed and ware potato in the region.

This project is aimed at increasing crop productivity and quality as well as to improve the income of small-scale potato farmers in the highlands of Ethiopia by improving soil fertility and crop management with a specific emphasis on the control of bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum) using participatory research approaches,” says Bruce Ochieng, CIP potato research associate.

Funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) the project is titled: “Soil fertility and soil health project: critical factors in improving livelihoods and productivity in small scale potato based farming systems” and was implemented across Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda from February 2010- February 2014.

According to CIP SSA Deputy Potato Science Leader Monica Parker, the project is works “to validate farming practices to enable farmers to improve potato yields through improved crop management practices, particularly to manage disease.”

In the region, CIP’s focus is on works significantly increasing potato productivity and improving the livelihoods of at least 600,000 smallholder farmers in potato growing regions of Africa through the use of high quality seed of robust, market preferred and biofortified varieties.

Video and audio slideshows are becoming a popular way to tell the story for science organizations. They are a powerful tool to tell the story behind often complex and difficult to understand agricultural research and science concepts. Video gives viewers an opportunity to step inside the project and hear the voices of the beneficiaries directly as well as to see the project in action.

Bruce Ochieng engaged Africa Drumbeat Communications to produce the documentary as a way to “document and showcase in summary some aspect of reality that is involved in soil fertility and bacterial wilt management. The video is a tool for the purposes of teaching, instruction or maintaining a historical record of the project, the intended audience being the donor, farmers, scientists/researchers and all the partners who worked in this project

Watch the documentary here.

You can find out more about CIP projects on potato in the SSA region here.

Writing and production: Dr. Elmar Schulte-Geldermann, Dr. Monica Parker, Bruce Ochieng, Clifford Gikunda. Script: Dr. Elmar Schulte-Geldermann, Dr. Monica Parker, Bruce Ochieng, Clifford Gikunda, Sara Quinn. Script narration: Sara Quinn. Camerawork and Video Editing: Clifford Gikunda, Bruce Ochieng. Translation: Dr. Asrat Amele. Technical advisors: Dr. Elmar Schulte-Geldermann, Dr. Monica Parker, Bruce Ochieng, Sara Quinn. Music: Weliso Farmers Group, Ethiopia.

Improving the livelihoods of smallholder potato farmers in East Africa

Eastern Africa, farmers, potato