Download a full copy: Volume 2 No: 16 (2018): Innovation Opportunities in Potato Production in Rwanda
Whereas Irish potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a major staple food in many countries, it is one of the priority value chain crops under the CIP in Rwanda. The crop is more important in the northern and northwestern than other parts of Rwanda. After plantain and cassava, potato is the third most important staple cultivated by 52.9% of the households in Rwanda. With potato yields at 12mt/ha comparatively favored by rich volcanic soils and high altitudes, Rwanda is the second largest producer of potatoes in the EAC after Kenya and third largest in SSA. This research is aimed at highlighting the potential innovation opportunities for increased potato production in Rwanda. Irish potato has short growth cycles and can easily be integrated into existing agricultural systems, and stored relatively easily. It has excellent nutritional content and is a good source of dietary energy and micronutrients. Notwithstanding, potato production in Rwanda is faced with various constraints among which pests and diseases, limited land sizes, and high production costs (for pesticides and seeds) are major. Potato VCA conducted at the Gataraga Potato IP indicated that small-holder farmers were the main players in producing Irish potatoes and marketed by retailers in local markets and urban areas including Kigali. In spite of potato production seemingly looking attractive in Rwanda, innovation opportunities exist that can uplift and expand the VC for enhanced socio-economic benefits of the VC actors. These opportunities include but not limited to increasing farm level productivity, introducing processing of potatoes, and stabilizing farm prices through establishing appropriate business models. The expected new business model would builds on existing farmer institutional frameworks such as the IP cooperative society and IP potato company with the RAB engagements, and potential credit institutions, extension service providers, buyers and processors. Such an arrangement is likely to ease constraints of high production costs and unsecured markets, while improving farm-level productivity.
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