Africa

Kenian govt reportedly to construct multi million dollar cold storage facility for potatoes

The National Government in Kenya will reportedly build a multi-million dollar cold-room storage facility in Molo in the country to “cushion potato farmers against post-harvest losses and eliminate exploitation by brokers”.The cold room is reportedly designed to hold four million kilograms (4,000 metric tonnes) of potatoes, and will be equipped with an information centre and storage area which will prolong the shelf life of the potatoes for a period of four to six months, maintaining its quality. Nakuru is among the largest producers of the crop in Kenya with the County accounting for 18.9 percent of national production.

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Action Africa: First Yara fertilizer shipment sets sail for Kenya and Tanzania

On 28 June, the first shipment of Yara’s premium fertilizer sat sail from Yara’s production facility in Porsgrunn, Norway towards East Africa. Yara has committed 40,000 tonnes of premium fertilizer, agronomic expertise and digital enablement to smallholder farmers in a public-private partnership supported by the UN World Food Program, the Norwegian government and African institutions. Heading for Kenya and Tanzania, the first 20,000 tonnes of YaraMila onboard the cargo ship Bonette left the plant during the early morning hours on Sunday.

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Late blight resistant potatoes in Uganda promise impressive returns

Potato is a popular crop in Uganda with great potential for income generation and improving nutrition. So much so that the Ugandan government has declared potato a key crop for the country. In Uganda, International Potato Center (CIP) partners with the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) to release and promote improved varieties of potato and sweetpotato. NARO and CIP have developed a new version of the Victoria variety by adding three resistance genes (3R). The 3R Victoria potatoes are completely resistant to late blight.

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Fight against powdery scab: South African researchers identified two ideal plant species for potato crop rotation

A study by researchers in the Potato Pathology Programme at the University of Pretoria identified oat and soybean as “ideal to be included as trap crops in rotations with potatoes”. This is a first study in southern Africa on alternative weed and cultivated hosts of the cercozoan Spongospora subterraneaf. sp. subterranea, which causes the potato disease powdery scab.

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Contributions needed to bring new late blight resistant potato variety to smallholder farmers’ fields in East Africa

The 2Blades Foundation, a non-profit research organization based in the Chicago area, is a principal sponsor of a research project that recently completed the development of a potato variety that is completely resistant to late-blight. 2Blades is seeking contributions to help bring this disease-resistant potato variety to market and fight hunger in East Africa.

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Investigative Report: Potato production in Egypt – ‘Export demands increase interest in bio-pesticides’

GROPRO Corp. a US based producer and supplier of biological crop protection products, has recently completed a investigative agricultural tour of Egypt. According to the group of specialists from GROPRO, “We believe that bio crop protection products will play an important role in the near future to assist in developing the Egyptian potato industry – not only to improve the efficiency of crop production in general, but for farmers to attain better quality products and higher yields.”

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Yara takes action to avert hunger crisis in the wake of Covid 19

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people facing acute hunger could double. Supported by the United Nations, the Norwegian government and African institutions, Yara is taking action and committing $25 million to provide food for more than one million people in Southern and Eastern Africa. Yara is launching Action Africa: Thriving Farms, Thriving Future – an initiative with the goal to mobilize support for 250,000 smallholder farmers in seven African countries to secure food production and improved food security. The initiative includes advocacy and partnerships, farmer connectivity and digital solutions, and operational support including 40,000 metric tons of high quality fertilizers

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Zimbabwe’s potato farmers frustrated by banks’ reluctance to support value added ventures, processing plants

Zimbabwe’s potato producers say efforts to add value to their produce are being frustrated by financial institutions’ reluctance to fund greenfield projects and they have appealed for government intervention to help them set up processing plants. Ronald Museka, the Potato Industry of Zimbabwe chairman, said local financial institutions were only eager to fund the growing of potatoes, but farmers wanted to ramp up value addition and explore export markets.

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More woes for Kenian farmers as potato crop attacked by blight disease

Potato farmers in the North Rift in Kenya are staring at heavy losses following the ongoing heavy rains. The crops had been attacked by blight, which has been made worse by the rains. Peter Muga from Kanjo area in Mau Narok is among farmers counting losses after the crop was attacked by the fungal disease. He is using chemicals he bought to contain the disease. He is worried because potato farming is his main economic activity. He sprays the crop weekly at a cost of between Sh1,500 and Sh2,000.

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CIP mapping potato diseases in Africa: Bacterial wilt present in 73% ware potato farms and 50% seed potato farms in Uganda

Bacterial wilt is widespread in Uganda, limiting yields and degrading seed quality. But little is known about the extent of the disease. CIP conducted a nationwide survey to chart the prevalence and spread of bacterial wilt in Uganda, as well as the type of pathogens present. Bacterial wilt was found to be present in 73% of ware potato farms and 50% of seed potato farms.

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The Quikgro initiative: Developing resilient potato varieties suited for East Africa

Scientists of the James Hutton Institute, in collaboration with the University of St Andrews, are supporting a research project aimed at delivering food security and health for East Africa. The Quikgro initiative, which aims to develop potato varieties suited to the agronomic and environmental conditions of the region, is a key component of the project and will hopefully result in economic and social benefits for smallholder farmers.

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GMO blight-resistant potato expected to help over 300,000 farmers in Uganda

Stakeholders working within the potato sector in Uganda are confident about the wide adoption of a new bioengineered late blight resistant potato. Dubbed the “3R Victoria” potato, the yet to be released variety could help over 300,000 smallholder farmers in Uganda achieve higher yields at a lower cost with less exposure to chemicals. At an expert consultative meeting held in[Read More…]

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CIP in Uganda: Experts expect 40-50% adoption of new blight resistant GMO potato variety Victoria

Stakeholders working within the potato sector in Uganda are confident about the wide adoption of a new bio-engineered late blight resistant potato. Dubbed the “3R Victoria” potato, the yet to be released International Potato Center (CIP) bred variety could help over 300,000 smallholder farmers in Uganda achieve higher yields at a lower cost with less exposure to chemicals, it is[Read More…]

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Input suppliers, govt and industry stakeholders collaborate to boost yields of potato farmers in Kenya

In Kenya, potatoes are a key staple food, second only to maize. Yet its potato value chain has been underdeveloped for decades. This has been acknowledged by the Kenyan government. Over the past years, it has been investing in the potato sector in order to realize an increase of output per hectare and a growth in potato smallholders’ income. Last[Read More…]

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CIP: Promoting nutrition-sensitive potato value chains in Kenya

Potato has underexploited potential to contribute to food security and incomes among Kenyan smallholders. This project builds on the past work of the International Potato Center (CIP) to increase the current low levels of productivity. It focuses on building the skills of farmers and other stakeholders to apply good agricultural practices and increase the availability of quality planting materials. The[Read More…]

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'Quikgro': Potato varieties suited to sub-Saharan conditions

Potato is a key food and cash crop contributing both to food security and the local economy in Kenya, Malawi and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Scientists from the James Hutton Institute in collaboration with the University of St Andrews in the UK are supporting an innovative research project aiming to develop potato varieties suited to the agronomic and environmental conditions[Read More…]

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Potatoes South Africa and partners sign agreement to address challenges faced by 'new era' farmers

AFGRI Agri Services, Kagiso Trust (through the Tyala Impact Fund) andPotatoes South Africa this week signed a ground-breaking agreement aimed at addressing the major challenges faced by South Africa’s ‘new era’ farmers, according to a press release issued by Potatoes South Africa and partners. Some of these challenges include access to technical support, access to finance and access to markets.[Read More…]

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CIP: Developing late blight resistant GMO potato varieties for Africa

The International Potato Center (CIP) is working in East Africa to breed GMO varieties of potatoes that combine three forms of resistance to late blight — the disease that can exact costly tolls on smallholding farmers. CIP states that the objective of the project is: “To develop and deliver bio-engineered potatoes completely resistant to late blight to reduce the costs[Read More…]

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PepsiCo Egypt and USAID initiative garners increase in potato harvest

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings,” said Masanobu Fukuoka, the Japanese philosopher and farmer. For Egyptian potato farmers, this could not be any more true. For the past year, PepsiCo Egypt has been working to empower Egyptian farmers by supporting them through training programs aimed at providing[Read More…]

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South African potato industry to have greater access to Mondial variety

South Africa’s potato production industry is set to gain from a settlement agreement approved recently by the Competition Tribunal (CompTrib), according to a report published by Farmers Weekly. This agreement, between Netherlands-based seed potato breeder, HZPC Holland (HZPC) and previous exclusive South African distributor of the company’s popular Mondial variety, Wesgrow Potatoes (Wesgrow), will lead to greater competition on the[Read More…]

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South Africa: The long, hard road to profiting from potatoes

In 1998, at the age of 45, Frans Vlok left his job as head of Kynoch fertiliser services in the Western Cape in South Africa to pursue his lifelong dream of farming full-time. He was joined in the business eight years later by his daughter, Monique Vlok, who told Glenneis Kriel of their struggle to succeed. For as long as[Read More…]

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PepsiCo boosts Ethiopia’s snack market with majority stake acquisition in local crisps producer

The Frito-Lay and Walkers Crisps maker has acquired a majority shareholding of Senselet Food Processing, an Ethiopian potato crisps company founded by Veris Investments in 2015. Veris claims Senselet has a leading market position in Ethiopia with its Sun Chips brand, which uses locally-sourced potatoes. The Netherlands-based private equity firm says it set up Senselet to contribute to the development[Read More…]

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Earliest roasted root vegetables, similar to modern potatoes, found in 170,000-year-old cave dirt

Charred fragments found in 170,000-year-old ashes in a cave in southern Africa are the earliest roasted root vegetables yet found. The finding suggest the real â€œpaleo diet” included lots of roasted vegetables rich in carbohydrates, similar to modern potatoes. “I think people were eating a very balanced diet, a combination of carbohydrates and proteins,” says team leader Lyn Wadley of the University of[Read More…]

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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