Malawi: Disease Resistant Potato Seeds Launched in Dedza

Dedza — In an effort to combat diseases which have been hampering potato yields for the past two years in Dedza, International Potato Centre (CIP) recently handed over disease resistant Irish potato seeds to ten farmers in the district.

The farmers received the seed potatoes at a ceremony organized by CIP at Fisikulibe Village in Traditional Authority Kamenyagwaza.

Speaking in an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana), potato scientist from CIP, Dr. Obed Mwenye said for the past two years, Irish potato farmers have seen their production figures lowered by 23 per cent due to the effects of climate change.

"For a long time, potato growing districts like Dedza, Lilongwe and Ntchisi, have been attacked by a disease called Late Blight (chiwawu) which has led to a drop in yields.

"It is for this reason that we approached Irish Aid to help us develop new varieties that can resist this disease," he said.

"Currently, in conjunction with government through the agriculture research department and with funding from Irish Aid, we have come up with several seeds that are resistant to this disease," he added.

Mwenye explained they have distributed Late Blight resistant seeds namely, Chuma, Thandizo, Mwayi, Violet and Zikomo to ten farmers which are first grade seeds.

Those who have received are supposed to multiply them so that they should also be shared to other farmers as a way of making sure that all farmers in the districts are now growing disease resistant potato.

In his remarks, Group Village Head (GVH) Kaboola expressed his gratitude to CIP for coming to the rescue of potato farmers in Dedza.

"We have been harvesting little or nothing at all because of the heavy rains which have been hitting our district and with these new seeds, farmers will now start enjoying the fruits of their labour," he said.

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