25 February 2013

Rwanda: New Sweet Potato Varieties Introduced

The Rwanda Agriculture Board (Rab) has released six new varieties of sweet potatoes intended to give high yield, fight malnutrition and boost agro-processing industry.

The varieties were released last week after three years of research at Rab's Rubona station that is based in Southern Province.

The research was done by crossing different varieties to come up with new ones.

These varieties are harvested in between four and five months of planting and the yield is between 25 and 30 tonnes per hectare.

According to Rab researchers, the new varieties are flexible with soils and can survive infertile soil and have resistance to different diseases.

The new varieties have already been distributed to farmers in some districts and the distribution is expected to expand.

Double advantage

The Rab head of sweet potato programme, Jean Ndirigwe, said the new varieties are for dual-purpose, serving both as forage (the shoots) and the roots used for food.

A researcher in soil science, Dr Léon Nabahungu, said it is appreciable that the research is addressing farmers' needs.

"It would be regrettable when researchers spent many years in research without tangible results to address people's needs. We are happy that our research is bearing fruits for our farmers," said Nabahungu, one of the researchers.

Drocelle Yankurije, a farmer in Shyogwe sector in Muhanga district, who has already planted the new varieties, said they have very big roots which has increased her yield.

She said she is already supplying to agro-processing factories.

Farmers have already given Kinyarwanda names to the new varieties including Ndamirabana, Giramata, and Terimbere.

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