22 November 2018

Rwanda: Farmers Get New Irish Potato Varieties

Photo: Regis Umurengezi/The New Times
A Nyabihu-based professional Irish potatoes farmer stands in her plantation. Farmers said getting access to financial services will boost their welfare.

The Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) is set to start distributing five new potato varieties to farmers, which are resistant to adverse weather conditions, in order to increase farm yields.

Launched in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Potato Centre (CIP), the varieties are part of the 43 potato breeds that were imported from Peru over the last five years ago.

RAB said that, after years of testing, they discovered that 38 varieties could not cope with local conditions, especially the climate.

The Deputy Director General of RAB in charge of Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer, Dr Charles Bucagu, told The New Times that; "We have been relying on a few numbers of cultivars including Sangema, Kirundo and others but with these new clones we hope to give more choices to potato consumers."

He added that farmers were being given the opportunity to appreciate the new varieties.

The new varieties, he said, were found to be resistant to heat, which also makes them suitable in Eastern and Southern provinces.

In Rwanda, potatoes have predominantly been grown in Northern Province.

Demand for Irish potatoes has been growing steadily of late on account of increased investment in processing plants as well as local demand.

Bucacu noted that, "It is important that RAB provide clones that respond to different needs of society like consumers who need to consume potatoes in cooked form but also these people who want processed food."

Farmers upbeat

Farmers who planted the new clones said they were already getting better quality and quantity.

"I have been growing all the new varieties and I realised that they are more productive compared to the old ones. For example, Tire 15 and 615 have particularly shown to grow very well and they give more yields than Kinigi," said Thomas Hakizimana, a farmer from Cyuve sector, Musanze district.

RAB says they are set to distribute the new varieties to farmers across the country.

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