Kenyan potato farmers urged to grow certified seed

Related imageThe Kenyan government says it will provide certified potato seed to farmers in Meru County to assist improve food security. Agriculture and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri expressed fears that the general uptake of certified potato seeds by farmers was still low despite efforts to encourage use of quality seeds. He noted that government and private potato farming experts were willing to provide knowledge necessary for uplifting potato farming in all parts of the country. He said that only 18 percent of farmers in Meru County are using certified potato seed. He stated that government wants to raise the quantity of certified seeds from 6,000 metric tons to 400,000 metric tons to help cut the high cost of seed on the market. The door has been opened for UK seed potato producers to export to Kenya. A delegation from Kenya recently visited Prince Edward Island in Canada to help develop their important crop back home. Read more

US seed potato delegation inspects trials in Morocco

A number of US potato growers visited Morocco recently to see how US potato varieties were performing in that country. The growers were convinced that the varieties are doing well in Morocco, and growers are excited to get more official data after the full harvest, which will happen soon. Attendees also visited the fields and storage facilities of several growers who attended the Potatoes USA International Seed Symposium and Reverse Trade Mission in August 2017. Hopes remain high that Morocco will quickly approve the U.S. Pest Risk Assessment and variety registration. Seed growers who attended included Dennis Bula of Wisconsin, Jim Behrens of Minnesota, Carl Hoverson of North Dakota, and Amy Burdett and Peter Joyce from Potatoes USA. For any questions about the trip or the Potatoes USA Seed Program, please contact Amy Burdett at

CIP study: Poor quality seed, bacterial wilt holding back higher potato yields in Africa

Image result for POTATO PRODUCTION IN AFRICA CAN BE INCREASED BY 140%: FIND OUT HOWPotato, the third most important food crop after rice and wheat, is globally consumed by over a billion people. According to FAO statistics, potato production in Africa tripled from 1994 through 2011, from 8 to 24 million metric tons, but largely due to the increase of cropping area. Half of this production comes from sub-Saharan Africa where a recent study carried out by the International Potato Center (CIP) and its partners from 2013 to 2016 has shown that this level of production could be increased by 140% if identified causes of yield gap were addressed. In this study, the research yield gap is defined as the difference between the research yield and the potential yield, whereas the absolute yield gap is derived from the difference between the average farmer’s yield and the potential yield. Modeling work conducted by CIP and its partners in ten SSA countries showed that farmers’ yield gap (24 t/ha) exceeds the current farmers’ yield (8 t/ha). A six month online survey outlined twelve most important yield gap challenges out of an initial list of thirty. Poor quality seed was the top-ranked yield gap cause identified by survey respondents, followed by bacterial wilt. Read more on the CIP website. The full Report can be downloaded as a pdf file

Popular potato variety in Uganda getting a GMO makeover

Related imageVictoria is a popular local potato variety in Uganda. Farmers love it because it is high yielding. However, Victoria is also extremely susceptible to potato late blight disease. With each growing season, these farmers face a threat of 60 to 100 percent yield losses due to Late Blight. Climate related risks have worsened the situation leading to increasingly food insecure households. However, all is not lost. Researchers from the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Uganda, working closely with the International Potato Center (CIP), are about to complete multi-location field trials and laboratory analyses of an improved transgenic Victoria potato. These trials are part of a comprehensive risk assessment of the improved potato, to get it approved by Uganda’s National Biosafety Committee. Field trials of the improved Victoria variety have shown complete resistance to late blight disease without use of fungicides. Read more

New range of potato machinery takes South African market by storm

According to Tinus Prinsloo, CEO of AFGRI Equipment, a leading agricultural services company in South Africa, the Dewulf, Standen and IMAC machinery were the subject of considerable interest at a recent national trade show and conference, so much so that the equipment subsequently went on display again at a farmers’ field day in another part of the country on the 30th of May. “The event was extremely well attended thanks to our display at NAMPO, where the interest was high – clearly word has spread about these very effective machines,” said a delighted Prinsloo. The equipment, which includes a top of the range potato harvester, the four-row self-propelled Dewulf Kwatro, owes its popularity to constant innovation on behalf of the manufacturers, durability and the comparatively low cost of replacement parts. Potato farming is becoming more popular as South African farmers seek to diversify crops to mitigate risk.  Continue reading

Russia lifts ban on Egyptian potato exports from 8 regions

Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Tariq Qabeel said that the Russian authorities have agreed to lift the ban on Egypt exports of potatoes from 8 agricultural areas and to allow the export of these crops starting from June 6. The minister said in a statement on Saturday that the decision comes as a culmination of the negotiations held in Russia on the sidelines of the activities of the Egyptian-Russian Joint Committee held in Moscow in late May. During the meeting, officials discussed the technical problems that hinder the process of agricultural exports and imports between the two countries, including potatoes. The statement said that the Federal Veterinary And Phytosanitary Monitoring Service of Russia reviewed the procedures for the cultivation and export of Egyptian potatoes assuring that they meet the requirements and specifications of Russian authorities. Read more

The Great South African Potato event: How potatoes can alleviate hunger

Do not peel potatoes or deep fry them, suggests South African dietitian Clare Strydom. She stressed that when peeled and soaked before cooking, a large proportion of the water-soluble vitamins could be lost. Strydom was speaking during the Great South African Potato event ahead of World Hunger Day. Potatoes South Africa and Meals on Wheels are among stakeholders who got together last week to strategise on alleviating hunger and demonstrate the important role of potatoes. “With an estimated 14 million people going to bed hungry every night, Potatoes SA and Meals on Wheels Community Services, through the Great SA potato event, have prioritised nourishment in an era when malnutrition caused by a deficiency of vitamins and minerals, remains without physical symptoms,” said Potato SA marketing manager Immaculate Zinde. Read more

Ireland’s Keogh’s to help develop potato farming in Ethiopia

The award-winning Keogh’s Farm in north Co Dublin has committed to a three-year partnership with Vita, which will see it become the first Irish food business to go carbon neutral. Developing a sustainable potato cultivation programme for Ethiopian farmers is the aim of the partnership. Vita is the only Irish not-for-profit overseas development agency to deliver a platform for Irish companies to offset their carbon footprint via their high impact climate-mitigating programmes in Africa. The Keogh family, one of Ireland’s leading crisp makers, has been producing potatoes for over two centuries. Their farm was awarded carbon neutral status in May, which means their emissions are tracked from the field to the crisping house. It is also a member of Bord Bia’s Origin Green sustainability programme. Vita has been working for many years supporting Ethiopian families and communities in building sustainable livelihoods. Read more

Frito-Lay subsidiary in Egypt launches important programme for local potato seed production

Image result for chipsy egyptChipsy for Food Industries in Egypt, a subsidiary of Pepsico (Frito-Lay) announced a significant new programme for the local production of potato seed. “This comes as a result of Chipsy’s long journey of conducting scientific research and field trials, which saw it being rewarded for its use of innovative and state of the art technologies,” the company said in a press release. Through this programme, Chipsy will be able to provide locally cultivated seeds to the Egyptian market. In 2017, the project helped the company to provide 70% of its seeds from local sources, and thanks to this programme, 100% of Chipsy’s potatoes are now locally sourced. Tamer Mosalam, general manager at Chipsy Egypt, stated, “we are very proud of launching this programme, as it will strongly affect the overall Egyptian agricultural sector, the consumer, and definitely the economy.” More

Russia blocks two potato shipments imported from Egypt

Egypt's Ain Sokhna Port (Photo:Reuters)
Russia’s agricultural quarantine authorities flagged two potato shipments from Egypt that were found to be contaminated with potato brown rot. The Ministry of Trade and Industry in Egypt denied the allegation that Russia has imposed bans on potato imports from Egypt due to a lack of quality. He stressed that Russia has not placed a blanket ban on Egypt’s potato exports to Russia. The ministry added that the ban has been limited to two regions, including Beheira, which is where the shipments originated from. Egypt has set phytosanitary regulations, the ministry stated, assuring that Egyptian agricultural exports are free of pests. Such regulations have led to a dramatic upturn in Egypt’s potato exports to Russian markets in 2017, reaching $118.4 million, compared to $ 45.4 million in 2016. More

For the long haul: South Africa’s running potato pathology professor chasing after spud diseases

Jacquie van der Waals is not only a professor of potato pathology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa – she is also a recognized national 10km and cross country runner in that country. Yesterday she came third in her age group during the national sprint triathlon championships in South Africa. Other running achievements include being South African Cross Country Ladies Champion (40 – 44) in 2014 and 2015. Jacquie is the founder and lead of the Potato Pathology Programme at the university. This initiative is the flagship programme for research on bacterial and fungal diseases of potatoes in South Africa, also housing a diagnostic clinic for potato diseases. Research is focused on sustainable, integrated management of potato diseases, currently focused on some of the most pressing potato diseases that potato growers in South Africa deal with – including powdery scab, blackleg / soft rot, and a-typical tuber blemishes, such as corky cracks. Jacquie maintains strong collaborations with researchers in Scotland, The Netherlands, Israel, Poland and Zimbabwe and also work closely with numerous South African colleagues at the University of Pretoria and the Agricultural Research Council. Anyone interested in more details about the Potato Pathology Programme activities is welcome to get in touch with Jacquie at On Twitter: @jacquievdw

Kenya, Ireland team up to improve potato farming

potatoThe Ministry of Agriculture in Kenya and Ireland have launched a programme to improve potato farming in Kenya. The launch on Wednesday was officiated by Ireland Minister for Public Works Kelvin Moran and attended by top Agriculture ministry officials from both countries as well as the Ireland ambassador. The programme seeks to address the entire chain from soil testing, soil management, quality seeds, best husbandry, to marketing. Mr Moran said the partnership will include making farming attractive to the youth through embracing modern farming technologies, as well as addressing post-harvest losses. The programme will run until 2021. About 800,000 small-holding farmers across Kenya grow potatoes, employing 2.7 million people along the market chain, and contribute over Sh50 billion to the Kenyan economy. More

Nab the Scab: South African specialist’s views on how to deal with a nasty potato disease

Jacquie vanderWaalsPowdery scab of potatoes is a serious disease that is a thorn in the side of many a potato grower around the world. This is also the case in South Africa, one of the biggest potato producing countries on the African continent. In a recent article published on the website of the Afrikaans language agriculture magazine Landbou Weekblad, the views of a respected South African potato specialist on powdery scab are shared. Prof Jacquie van der Waals is Assistant Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences in the section Plant Pathology at the University of Pretoria. She says in an interview that powdery scab is indeed a disease that is very hard to control, and growers are advised to look not only at one possible solution to combat the problem, but use a range of integrated measurements at any one moment in time to deal with it. Jacquie is the founder and lead of the potato pathology project at the University of Pretoria and a seasoned potato researcher. She points to no less than 11 measures that potato growers can employ as part of an integrated control strategy to manage powdery scab.  Continue reading

New seed potato markets in Africa for the UK

Horticulture crops in RwandaRwanda and Uganda have been identified as two potential new export destinations for UK seed potatoes. After recent successful trials of GB seed in Kenya, levy body AHDB was invited to visit Rwanda as part of a UK Government trade initiative, during which AHDB’s head of crops trade Rob Burns met with the heads of Rwanda and Uganda’s plant health authorities. “We discussed the opportunity to improve potato yields in both Rwanda and Uganda through high quality, high health GB seed,” he explained. “Potatoes are a popular crop in both countries, but yields are just 20 tonnes per hectare and we know from our Kenyan trials that importing GB seed potatoes could see yields more than double.” Mr Burns said: “Exporting seed potatoes could help as essentially you are giving them the tools to improve their output, rather than simply selling them food products. They can use the seed to grow their own potatoes, which they can then sell on the domestic market or export elsewhere in Africa.” More

British seed potatoes impress in Kenyan trials

Four British seed potatoes have yielded well on three Kenyan trials sites, creating potential for a new export market. AHDB and SASA have been working together to open the Kenyan market to British seed since a bilateral agreement was signed by the Scottish and Kenyan governments late in 2016. Of the four varieties involved in the trial, Cara performed best with average yields across three farms of over 50t/ha (20t/acre). Hermes and Russet Burbank also grew well with an average yield of 41 t/ha (17t/acre), while Atlantic yielded a respectable 35t/ha (14t/acre). The yields achieved in Kenya closely mirror average yields in Britain, however most farmers in Kenya are used to yields of around 10t/ha (4t/acre) as 95 per cent of farmers use poor quality home-saved seed rather than high quality imported seed. More