CIP SSA newsletter August 2013

Stories and updates from CIP projects across Sub-Saharan Africa – Newsletter Vol. 1, No 1


1. Introduction:

Welcome to the first edition of the CIP SSA Newsletter! This is a new platform to celebrate the wonderful work of our SSA country offices, projects and staff. The newsletter will be a regular publication and is your opportunity to find out more about the exciting work happening in the region, to learn more about our staff through interviews and profiles and to see photographs and images of our projects throughout the SSA region.

Keep an eye out for future editions in your inbox and via the CIP website, blog and Facebook page.

Thanks for reading!

2. Submissions:

Share your stories, successes and photos with us!
CIP SSAThis newsletter is a platform for CIP SSA staff to share stories about the work they are doing. We invite submissions for stories from all our staff and country offices. We would love to hear about exciting projects, success stories, interviews, staff profiles or some interesting news from your part of the region.

Please send your stories, ideas and photographs to (please include your name and contact details should we require further information)

Please note: The newsletter has limited space and thus we are not able to print every stories. However, your submissions will be kept on file and may be used elsewhere such as the CIP website, in one of our blogs or as a story in a CIP brochure or flyer.

We look forward to your contributions!

3. Naming Competition

To celebrate our first edition we are giving our readers the exciting opportunity to name the newsletter! We are looking for creative, imaginative, thought provoking names which capture the spirit of CIP SSA.

A few details:

  • All CIP SSA staff are eligible to enter.
  • Please submit your idea by Friday November 22
  • Only one submission per person
  • Send your idea along with a very short explanation about why you chose the name to (please include your name and contact details)
  • The winning name will be announced in the next edition along with your photograph and a short interview!
We look forward to hearing your creative ideas. Good luck!

CIP – SSA Welcomes New Hires to the Team

CIP is Pleased to Welcome New Staff to the CIP SSA Team

CIP SSA new hires to the teamCIP Uganda welcomes Julius Juma Okello who will be working as an Impact Evaluation Specialist for the SSA Region and Anne Wathoni Njoroge who will join the team as a Research Assistant with CIP Uganda.

OCIP Kenya is pleased to welcome Monica Parker who will be working as a Deputy Potato Science Leader and Kelvin Mashisia Shikuku who has joined CIP Kenya as a Research Assistant.

 A Good Potato Harvests Start With The Seed

Kisima Farms Develops New Techniques for Small-Holder Farmers in Kenya

In Sub Saharan Africa CIP and Kisima Farms are working closely with local farmers to put disease free seeds into the value chain.

On a recent trip to Kenya, Joel Ranck, Head of Communications at CIP witnessed first hand the effect that good seed can have on potato production. Spending time with the Dyer Family on Kisima Farms, a family who have farmed since the early 1920s, Joel had the pleasure of witnessing new, exciting potato farming techniques which are being developed in order to produce high quality seed.

The Kisima Foundation, the not-for-profit arm of Kisima farms, has identified seed in the potato value chain, as a ‘sweet’ spot and has developed a multipronged approach to help farmers avoid potentially devastating mistakes.

Further, the Foundation’s Agri Information Centre serves as a focal point providing information to support farmers in making better decisions. The foundation has planted a variety of crop trials to demonstrate best cultivation practices, and a systems approach to farming as well as providing information on improved post-harvest handling (phh) practices.

They are also working to change farming techniques in the local area with their adoption of a CIP developed aeroponic growing system to produce disease-free minitubers. The system increases the speed of mini-tuber production and produces large amounts of disease-free mini-tubers, which can be held safely in cold storage before being sold to local smallholder farmers at a fair market price.

The benefit to local farmers is that they can plant all of their seed in a single season rather than saving seed – this increases yield and allows farmers to plant a different variety in the next season based on market preferences.

Martin Dyer tells farmers: “Don’t store your seed. Use all that you’ve got and come to us next year when you need more seed.”

Until farmers have developed better post-harvest handling and storage, or become multipliers themselves, this seed security will benefit farmers in the long run as they no longer have to worry about storage issues and can better respond to market demand.

Kisima Farms is also in the process of building a cold storage unit, large enough to house a large amount of ware potatoes produced by local farmers. They plan to purchase ware potatoes from local farmers at fair market prices and sell the products. at a premium price from which participating farmers will receive a dividend.

“This will only work if farmers know that they have a stake in the game,” says Charlie Dyer (Kisima Foundation) “We are going to put in place a ruthless grading system and hold the farmers to it,” By only accepting quality potatoes according to grade, Dyer hopes to reinforce the importance of buying good seed.

CIP is pleased to be working with small-holder farmers in the Nanyuki area and excited to support the Kisima Foundation to explore new ways of maximizing good potato harvests & removing some of the risk for local small holder farmers.

Improving Livelihoods for Potato Farmers through increased Production in Tanzania

Seed Potato Development project in TanzaniaCIP is currently implementing an exciting Seed Potato Development project in Tanzania, aimed at improving livelihoods for potato farmers through increased potato production. The three-year research and development project, which is funded by the Government of Finland through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is working to restore seed potato production systems in Tanzania as a first step towards recovery of the potato sub-sector and to improve capacity to ensure and sustain production, supply and use of clean seed potato.
The project, which is being executed by the International Potato Centre (CIP) and implemented by the University of Helsinki, anticipates that the project will have the following key results:
  • Strengthened capacity for pathogen testing, cleaning and potato genetic resource improvement
  • Improved capacity for pre-basic seed potato production
  • Enhanced capacity of certified seed potato production
  • Improved field management and potato production practices
The project is supported by a range of local and international organizations including: The International Potato Center; The University of Helsinki; Agrifood Research Finland; The Finnish Seed Potato Center Directorate of Research and Development Ministry of Agriculture; Food Security and Cooperatives; ARI Uyole; ARI Mikocheni and TOSCI.

Improving Potato Productivity in Mozambique

Improving potato productivity in MozambiqueCIP is currently working on a Mozambique country project aimed at improving potato productivity in the country. Mozambique is a country, which has a vast potential to grow potatoes, however it currently produces only 102,290 tonnes.
Mozambique has identified increasing potato production over the next two years as a priority. Targeted production, according to the country’s strategic plan for agricultural development (PEDSA), is 220,000 tonnes by 2015. As such, CIP along with a range of public and private partners have
developed a project to support the country’s ambitious aims.
A range of barriers will need to be overcome in order to successfully improve potato productivity in the country. These barriers include: difficulties in accessing high quality seed of improved varieties, a host of pests and diseases, challenges occasioned by climate change, and limited infrastructure and services for accessing markets.
The key activities of the program are to: improve seed potato production and utilization through capacity building, technology development and promotion and to improve livelihoods of resource-poor farmers through capacity building, participatory technology development, and improved market linkages in the Beira Corridor.
The projects anticipated results include improving capacity for potato research and development and collaboration among stakeholders in the potato value chain; improving access to improved potato technologies including good quality seed and agronomic packages improved; increasing potato productivity and improving livelihoods of potato farmers in the country.
This exciting country project is supported by a range of partners including: AgDevCo • Associacao Nacional para o Desenvolvimento Auto-sustentado (ANDA) • Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC) • Canadian Hunger Foundation (CHF) • Instituto de Investigacao Agrária de Mocambique (IIAM) • Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) • Research Development Implementation (RDI) • Sementes de Moçambique (SEMOC) • United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

CIP Co-hosts the African Potato Association Conference in Kenya

Transforming Potato and Sweetpotato Value Chains for Food and Nutrition Security

African Potato Association Conference in KenyaThe International Potato Center (CIP) co-hosted the 9th Triennial African Potato Association Conference in Naivasha, Kenya from the 30 June – 4 July 2013. The conference brought together 235 stakeholders and scientists from 23 African countries and other regions of the world to discuss innovative ways to exploit the food security and income-generating potential of potato and sweetpotato crops.

The African Potato Association (APA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to potato research and promotion. Founded in 1985, the APA consists of scientists, experts, and practitioners from over 20 African countries. The APA collaborated with the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, the National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK), and CIP to organize this high level international conference, which received sponsorship from CTA, FAO, Syngenta, and the CIP-led CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB). Sponsorship included providing scholarships to over 70 African scientists to participate in the conference.
African Potato Association Conference in KenyaThe conference brought together private and public stakeholders, international agencies and organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, and government bodies. “Increasing involvement by the private sector in potato and sweetpotato value chains would greatly benefit rural African farmers, and offer a means to unlock yield gaps and overcome bottlenecks limiting the full utilization of the potato sector” says Elmar Schulte-Geldermann, Potato Science Leader at CIP’s SSA office. The conference also encouraged the integration of national agricultural research and extension systems into the value chain, as well as farmer training schemes, in order to stimulate innovation.
The conference provided scientists with a great opportunity to review progress in potato and sweetpotato research in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA); gave participants the chance to engage with stakeholders and agents for development who exhibited, presented papers and posters, and participated in panel discussions; and lastly to promote the public-private sector partnerships within the sector.
Potato production in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has more than doubled over the past 20 years with 70% of this growth concentrated in East Africa. The potato is the largest energy provider of all major arable crops – almost double that of wheat and rice – and African farmers are beginning to take advantage of this versatile crop. Potatoes are not only of increasing importance to rural farmers, but are a highly-preferred food in urban areas where consumption is increasing rapidly, giving potatoes high market potential.

Sweetpotatoes are equally important due to its high nutrient content – the orange-fleshed varieties are rich in pro-vitamin A and its ability to grow well under low input conditions. CIP’s Jan Low and leader of the Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI), explains that, “Vitamin A deficiency among children is a major problem in most African countries. The introduction of vitamin A-rich Sweetpotato throughout many areas of Africa can ensure that children under five years of age grow and develop normally and stay healthy.”

The APA conference was a valuable experience for attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and presenters. As one conference exhibitor – Veronique Durroux from Roots, Tubers and Banana’s (CGIAR member) stated:“It was a great opportunity to showcase RTB in the region and interact with participants…being relatively new, it was important to be present so participants could hear about us, our program and our activities…with the presence of 36 countries and participants from different backgrounds, the APA Conference represents a valuable event.”

For further Information about the APA and the APA 2013 Conference (including presentations, photographs and videos) please visit The 10th Triennial APA Conference is scheduled to be held in Ethiopia in 2016.

New Publication Explores the Opportunities and Challenges of Potato Production in Ethiopia

Seed potatoes in Ethiopia: Experiences, Challenges and OpportunitiesA 2012 Ethiopian workshop on potato seed production has provided CIP with a great opportunity to be involved in the development of a unique publication exploring trends in potato production.
As the world’s top non-grain food commodity, potato has an important role to play as a popular source of affordable food for the world’s growing urban populations. In Sub-Saharan Africa and Ethiopia in particular – the potential of the potato crop is being researched by stakeholders keen to explore new opportunities for development.
With global production over the past two decades expanding rapidly, potato is increasingly a highly dependable food security crop. Potato also generates more employment in the farm economy than other crops, and serves as a source of cash income for low-income farm households.
However, despite these trends potato has long been regarded as a lowly subsistence crop and is still an underexploited food crop. Potato has huge potential to improve food security, income and human nutrition and it is in Ethiopia where the potential of this crop is increasingly being realized and explored by farmers, private investors, and policy makers. While, national average yields are still far below attainable yields, ample opportunities exist to unleash this crop’s potential for increased food security and income generation.
It was in this context, that the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Amhara Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI), and the International Potato Center (CIP) held a National Workshop on Seed Potato Production and Dissemination in 2012 that provided a valuable platform to discuss future potato research and development priorities.

This new publication – Seed potatoes in Ethiopia: Experiences, Challenges and Opportunities – documents the papers presented during the workshop. Farmer access to quality seed still constitutes the main bottleneck to increased productivity in East Africa. The book is the first of its kind to collect and analyse potato seed research experiences and provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of seed potato production in Ethiopia.

The book can be viewed and downloaded online at the Sweetpotato Knowledge Portal:

Copyright © 2013 International Potato Center, All rights reserved.


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