3G seed revolution

Lack of quality seed potato is a major bottleneck to potato productivity in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Due to low multiplication rates, it typically takes seven seasons of seed production (i.e., seven generations) before seed potato is affordable.

The three-generation (3G) seed strategy aims to produce large numbers of minitubers through very rapid multiplication to yield sufficient, high-quality seed in three field generations (instead of seven). Bi-products of this strategy are reduced production costs and less build-up of damaging diseases in the field.

Since the project began in 2008, national capacity to produce basic seed potato has grown; aeroponics, a soiless rapid multiplication method, has been introduced and adopted; farmers’ access to quality seed potato has increased; and over 12,000 smallholder farmers have received training on potato production technologies and best practices.

[info box] What is “seed” potato?

Because potato is vegetatively propagated, the term “seed” generally refers to the small potato or piece of potato, which, when planted, develop into a plant that can produce 5-20 new tubers. The new tubers are genetically identical to the mother “seed” material. Potato plants also produce flowers and berries that contain around 200 botanical seeds, of which each is a new plant type. These are known as “true seed.” Potatoes bred from true seed have the look and quality of the parent plant but are diverse in resistance and other traits.