Potato in East Africa

Potato production in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has more than doubled since 1994, with 70% of that growth concentrated in eastern Africa (FAO and CFC 2010). Despite these gains, potato yields of small-scale farmers in the region fall far short of their potential due mostly to a potent combination of inadequate supplies of high-quality seed and smallholders’ limited awareness of better seed management practices.

Greater involvement by the private sector in seed potato value chains offers a means to unlock this yield gap by overcoming the supply bottleneck that is limiting the provision of quality seed (see figure). A more efficient and responsive seed system will improve production, distribution, use, and profitability for farmers. Promising rapid multiplication technologies, the “3G revolution,” and an engaged private sector can provide needed capacity to broaden adoption of quality seed and accelerate availability of new varieties with more prospect of added value. Better integration of national agricultural research and extension systems into the value chain, as well as farmer training schemes in seed management and storage, can stimulate innovation. A regional perspective can help exploit economies of scale for sharing knowledge and technology, implement creative applications of information communication technologies, advocate for farmer-friendly seed-related regulations and policies, improve the business-enabling environment, and expand intra-regional trade for seed of the highest categories.

The five-year strategy described in this Roadmap document for Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda targets business investments in key areas along the seed potato value chain to increase the availability of high-quality seed potatoes from less than 1% to at least 5% of demand (except Kenya, where the target is 10%) and promote improved seed management. This will raise incomes of smallholder farmers, improve food security, and add to the rural and growing urban economies in these five countries. The focus areas and approaches presented in the Roadmap are consistent with those laid out in USAID’s comprehensive Feed the Future (FTF) initiative and are supportive of development themes and programs of other multilateral donors.

Five mutually reinforcing core investment areas (IAs) are proposed to put the seed potato value chain interventions into practice.

Three IAs make up country-level business plans:

1. Improving quality seed production and distribution
2. Enhancing profitability of quality seed use
3. Upgrading value chain coordination.

Two IAs are regional and potentially cross-cut all five countries:

4. Promoting regional networks for sharing knowledge and best practices
5. Growing intra-regional trade in seed.

The IAs build on a mix of value chain fundamentals and the accomplishments and lessons learned from recent projects, such as the two-year, USAID-funded 3G project. Led by the International Potato Center and implemented in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, the 3G project increased access to and production of basic seed potato in both public and private sectors; successfully introduced aeroponics technology and supported its adaption and adoption; and significantly increased production of minitubers at the national and regional scales. The project fostered private adoption of the three-generation (hence the “3G”) seed multiplication strategy and improved knowledge and skills leading to average yield increases of 20% for over 15,000 smallholder growers on potato production technologies and best practices. Other seed-related projects have generated complementary experience with improving farmer seed management that can be scaled up, such as the Common Fund for Commodities project in Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia and the Irish Aidfunded project in Malawi. The investment of $15 million proposed in the Roadmap is expected to generate a net present value of $128.7 million and an internal rate of return of 156%. It will lead to increases in yields of 20% in the five target countries to achieve three overarching objectives: a 15% increase in farm incomes, improved food security through a 10% increase in potato production, and more business opportunities for at least 240,000 households of smallholder potato growers.

Roadmap Potato East Africa

Roadmap for Investment in the Seed Potato Value Chain in Eastern Africa

International Potato Center (CIP). 2011. Lima, Peru, 27pp. PDF, 1Mb.

Download roadmap

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