Rwanda: Quack Seed Multipliers Threaten Country's Irish Potato Production

18 December 2019

Irish potato farmers and professional seed multipliers are crying foul over some individuals locally known as 'Abamamyi' who masquerade as multipliers and distribute fake seeds which leads to low yield.

The problem is increasingly prevalent in Northern and Western provinces, a region where Irish potatoes are predominantly grown.

Most of Irish potato farmers who spoke to The New Times expressed a common concern of harvesting lower yield which they attribute to the poor quality seeds they grow.

"The produce which I get is not commensurate to investment I make, I only harvest to eat with no surplus produce for the market as I had envisaged," noted Aloysie Kabahire from Kinigi Sector, Musanze District.

"I have fortunately learnt from agronomists that the lower produce is linked to the fake seeds that I grow and that's why I would request the government to step in and hold accountable those who sell to us fake seeds," she said.

Statistics from Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) indicate that so far, potato farmers harvest an average of 16 tonnes per hectare yet they should be harvesting above 30 tonnes and the problem is largely attributed to the use of ineffective seeds among other factors.

What is worrying, according to farmers and professional multipliers, is that the unscrupulous seed multipliers have won hearts of many farmers given that poor quality seeds they distribute are cheaper than the genuine ones.

Inside an Irish potato seeds storage facility that locates in Kinigi. The the Government unveiled the facility to support Irish potato seed multipliers and farmers get optimal produce. Régis umurengezi

"Certified potato seeds that have been tested and approved by agronomists are actually sold at Rwf450 per a kilo while a farmer gets the same quantity of seed from the unscrupulous multiplier at as low as Rwf300," explained Isaac Nzabarinda, one of the professional multipliers from Musanze District.

The professional multipliers are trained by RAB before they get an operating certificate. They are required to own a seed warehouse and five hectares of land for seed multiplication among other requirements.

They, however, express a common concern of encountering losses because their seeds are shunned by the farmers, who then opt for cheaper ones from the quack operators.

"Our seeds are not sold out due to fake seeds that are distributed by the masqueraders. It also holds back the country's efforts towards fostering quality seeds which yield optimal produce," noted Juliet Umwali, the coordinator of a greenhouse owned by Horizon SOPYRWA in Kinigi, Musanze District.

She added that her firm multiplies about 1.2 million of seeds every agricultural season plus a backup of 100 tonnes of pre-base seeds, stressing that the seeds should successfully serve all potato farmers from across Musanze district once the unscrupulous multipliers are out potato value chain.

According to Salomon Mbarushimana, the managing director of Seeds Potato Fund (SPF) - which was introduced by government to support potato seed multipliers and farmers - all the agricultural stakeholders ought to work together if unscrupulous seed multipliers are to be completely eradicated.

He said the fund would soon unveil seeds storage facilities in regions where the crop is predominantly grown to ensure farmers easily access quality seeds, stressing that 24 facilities of this nature were being set up.

Each storage facility will have the capacity to accommodate at least 500 tonnes of seeds.

Eugenie Nyiransengimana, the manager of RAB Musanze Station, told The New Times that they would embark on a campaign to mobilise farmers on quality seed to grow for them to harvest quality produce.

"Working closely with professional seeds multipliers is the only way to go for the farmers to make commendable progress," she said.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

Tags:RABIrish potato

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