The Ethiopian highlands: fertile ground for seed potato production?

Pic 1: Improved storage of seed potatoes plays an important role in maintaining the quality of planting material for the next season. This Diffuse Light Store was constructed using local materials.The Ethiopian highlands are densely populated and home to millions of smallholder farmers. The area is blessed with cool temperatures and high rainfall, which should make it fertile ground for the production of disease-free seed potatoes. However, Abdulwahab Abdurahman reports that this may not be as easy as previously thought. Our research has shown that Ralstonia solanacearum is widely spread in Ethiopia, as well as in Chencha. The bacterium is both seed and soil-borne, and difficult to control by widening the crop rotation; certainly under Chencha conditions it can be latent and, therefore, dangerous if seemingly healthy seed potatoes are transported for planting in warmer, more conducive environments. Moreover, the disease can easily spread through contaminated water and host plants other than potato. Our research has also confirmed that Ralstonia has been endemic in Chencha for many years and is not a recent introduction. Coupled with a low frequency of potato in the rotation, large quantities of bacterial, wilt-free seed will be required to flush the disease from the farming system. More