The Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) is running a pilot on True Potato Seeds, hybrid potatoes which are produced by Solynta, a Dutch firm.
The true Potato Seeds are collected from the berries or fruits of the potato plant. As such, one of the benefits of such seeds is that as opposed to using 2,500 kilogrammes or 2.5 tonnes of perishable potato-tubers per one hectare, farmers will be able to plant only 25 grammes of seeds on the same size of land.
If adopted, the new Irish potato breeds will reduce the cost that farmers incur and increase their access to seeds. Solynta and RAB bolstered their collaboration in a bid to increase farmers’ access to hybrid potato seeds over the last month of 2019.
Through their collaboration, they seek to supply a combination of True Potato Seeds and hybrids to local farmers. True Potato Seed, officials say, are resistant to diseases, easy to transport and store.
Solynta further added that the technology makes it possible to commercialise new varieties in just two years instead of seven years as compared to potato tubers.
Hein Kruyt, CEO of Solynta says that; “Collaboration is critical to addressing global challenges to economic and food security.”
RAB Director-General, Patrick Karangwa expressed his excitement on their involvement in piloting the innovation. Meanwhile, Placide Rukundo, the Potato Programme Leader at RAB said that this technology is still under evaluation at [RAB research] station level, not yet at farm level. He further added that only after showing promise will the seeds be moved to on-farm trials.
During every growing season, Rukundo said, potato is grown on between 50,000 and 60,000 hectares in Rwanda. Irish potato production in the country is estimated at 916,000 tonnes every year and is the third staple food crop in Rwanda after Cassava and Sweet potato based on the volume of production.