Prices for potatoes in South Africa have seen a massive spike over the past year, setting a new record high. Last week, a bag of 10kg potatoes surged 13% and reached a staggering R97.09 ( about US$6,50) due to low supply from farmers. Market analyst Johnny van der Merwe said the cost of potatoes is now as much as 102% higher than this time last year.
Potato tuber moth can be a potato producer’s nightmare. InteliGro in South Africa devised an effective monitoring system not only help to control this pest successfully, but allows producers to manage risks and reduce input costs over time. The project has since gained tremendous momentum and is currently an integral part of the service and decision-making support InteliGro offers in South Africa’s Sandveld potato-production region.
Because potato growers need to identify and manage diseases in their fields, the AI-powered mobile app PlantVillage Nuru has been expanded to include them also. More than two million farmers in East Africa who depend on potatoes will be able to point their smartphones at a plant and receive an instant disease diagnosis through the app. It has been expanded to include potato late blight (Phytophthora infestans) and early blight (Alternaria solani).
The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) is banking on a high quality potato seed production and distribution deal with Syngenta Foundation to increase production five times to 10 million tons annually. The deal involves increasing high quality certified potato seed availability to farmers by 25 percent through rapid multiplication, increased field seed bulking, and capacity building of commercial seed growers in the country.
The Africa Potato Association (APA) has announced that its 12th triennial conference will take place from June 27 to July 1, 2022 in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe. The conference theme will be ‘Harnessing potato and sweet potato innovations for resilient and healthier agri-food systems’. Conference subthemes include breeding and genetic innovations for increased resilience, production and nutrition, innovative approaches for building sustainable seed systems and more.
In response to the challenges of climate change, growing demands for food, and persistent malnutrition, crop breeders across the Global South are developing more resilient, productive and nutritious potato varieties. The G+ Tools – a new gender-responsive toolkit for breeding developed by the International Potato Center and the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas – promises to address this barrier by advancing a holistic framework to evaluate what traits men and women, farmers and consumers want in their potato, sweetpotato, cassava, and other crop varieties.
A blight-resistant gmo potato variety help farmers in Uganda to defeat late blight and change their fortunes
Successful innovation for agriculture will depend on thorough and careful understanding of the aspirations of beneficiaries and the challenges farmers face. It entails putting them at the center of these innovations, according to this blog post by the International Potato Center (CIP). As part of its work to research solutions addressing hunger and poverty, CIP and partners worked in Uganda to develop and test a new type of blight-resistant potato, which may not need any fungicides.
The ‘tricot’ approach: How African farmers participate in potato variety selection and dissemination
The “triadic comparisons of technologies” – or tricot – approach is being used in a citizen-science project funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) to identify and scale up best potato and cassava varieties in Rwanda. Farmers are trained to conduct a trial with potato seed and then, at the end of the season, they are asked which variety they consider ‘best’ or ‘worst’ on several characteristics including yield, marketability, plant vigor and more.
Anti-dumping tariffs on frozen French fries imported from the Netherlands and Germany have expired, leaving the South African potato industry vulnerable to ‘dumping’. Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes South Africa (Potatoes SA), said “The previous protection mechanism [proved] to be effective in ensuring the sustainability [of the local industry], and there is more than significant case law to suggest it to be necessary.”
Potato yields are highly-dependent on fertilizer use, but pinpointing the amount of fertilizer to be used can be a challenge, especially for smallholder farmers in Africa. This challenge is important in Rwanda where average potato yields are currently 8-10 tonnes per hectare (t/ha), compared to the 25-35 t/ha they might expect with improved potato varieties, better pest and disease management, and enhanced extension services and fertilizer use.
The World Potato Congress Inc.’s (WPC) Board of Directors announced this week the appointment of Willie Jacobs as its newest International Advisor from South Africa. Mr Jacobs is serving as CEO of Potatoes South Africa. Romain Cools, President & CEO of World Potato Congress Inc.: “We are very pleased to welcome Willie Jacobs to the World Potato Congress Inc.’s International Advisor group. Mr. Jacobs will be a great asset to WPC.”
As the next generation of young soccer whizzes in South Africa breathlessly out-dribble opponents and score mesmerizing free kicks, many of those future Cristiano Ronaldos might already be showcasing those tricks on a pitch made of potato chip bags. Chips processor Lay’s is partnering with its longtime Champions League partner, UEFA, and grassroots soccer organization Streetfootballworld to provide the world’s first five soccer fields made out of potato chip bags.
In a blog post on Global Food for Thought, guest authors Chris Kennedy and Bob Easter examine how a collaborative effort to bring a disease-resistant potato variety to market in Africa can promote global food security. It has to start with good seed, they write. Their seed has to have the genetic traits to not only produce more grain or fruit or tubers, but it also has to have the traits that make the plant resistant to the crops’ natural enemies and climate threats.
A recently published article by academic experts Marc Ghislain, Rick Goodman and Alex Barekye describes the development of an African potato variety – transformed with three resistance genes from wild potato relatives – that provides resistance to late blight disease. The article was published by OpenAccessGovernment.
2Blades Foundation: Collaborative effort to bring a disease-resistant potato variety to market in Africa
Evanston, Illinois based 2Blades Foundation reports in its latest e-mail newsletter on the Foundation’s support for the International Potato Center’s African potato initiative. The Foundation make note in the newsletter that Chris Kennedy, Chairman of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises, Inc. and Bob Easter, President Emeritus of the University of Illinois, co-wrote a blog on how a collaborative effort to bring a disease-resistant potato variety to market in Africa is helping to build global food security.
New Potatoes South Africa awareness campaign highlights resilience, optimism of unsung industry heroes
Potatoes South Africa (PSA) has launched a bold new awareness campaign in a bid to create perspective about the resilience and performance of the potato industry’s stakeholders in the country, especially in the context of South Africa recently marking the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 disruption. Called #WhenHopeWhispers, the campaign aims to highlight the resilient spirit and contributions of various stakeholders from the potato industry.
John Mary K Karugaba is a retired assistant forest officer in Uganda whose wife’s potato seed production project employed him after his retirement. His wife started Irish potato seed production in 2002. She gained expertise and her business was booming. When Karugaba retired, he joined her because the project pays better than salary.
Kenya’s potato production could hit 2.5 million tonnes in 2021 up from the estimated 2 million tonnes produced in 2020, the industry said last Friday. Wachira Kaguongo, CEO of National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK) told Xinhua in Nairobi that both production and demand were affected last year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We expect production to rebound in 2021 due to favorable weather as well as increased potato seed distribution to farmers,” Kaguongo said.
Kenya has applied for a Sh656 million (approx US$6 mil) grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to boost research on potato seed production and cut reliance on imports. The fund will be used to increase the availability of certified seed in the country and cut the imports of tubers, which has been blamed for introducing foreign pests in the country. Kenya
This virtual training webinar, hosted by the International Potato Center (CIP), will cover all aspects of apical rooted cuttings for potato seed production, including sessions on tissue culture multiplication, transplantation, and acclimatization of tissue culture plantlets in polyhouse, among others. The panel will include experts from CIP, the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and the University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot (UHS).
Ending world hunger isn
In the village of Meru, in eastern Kenya, farmers are celebrating better potato harvests. In just the past two years, their harvests have increased from 10 tons per hectare to 28, bringing them close to the range of yields in most European countries (between 30-50 tons/ha). Farmers credit the increase to higher-quality seed combined with improved agronomic practices. In the past, farmers used potatoes from the previous season
Fusarium is one of the most important genera of phytopathogenic fungi, causing potato wilt in the field and potato tuber dry rot during storage. The objectives of a study by researchers from Algeria and Poland were to identify Fusarium species associated with both potato diseases in different growing regions in Algeria, and to assess their pathogenicity.
According to the Fiscale Inlichtingen en OpsporingsDienst (FIOD), Dutch criminals are increasingly using potato exports to Africa to launder money, FIOD chief Bert Langerak has said. Investigations by the tax fraud detection body, whose annual report was published on Monday, has shown that criminals
The 2Blades Foundation, a non-profit research organization based in the Chicago area, is a principal sponsor of a project that recently developed a durable solution for the late blight potato disease. The discovery is of historic importance, and now 2Blades is seeking partners to help bring this disease-resistant potato variety to market and fight hunger in East Africa. 2Blades Foundation says it is honored to have the support of the son of Robert F. Kennedy, businessman Chris Kennedy, for its African Potato Initiative.