Africa

Ambassador: Tanzania-Netherlands ties ‘will help improve potato production in Tanzania’

In Tanzania, The Netherlands has been an important stakeholder in promoting and developing the production and use of the potato crop, as Jafari Juma reports for the Citizen. The Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Tanzania, Wiebe de Boer, says with the availability of improved Dutch potato seed varieties, farmers have an opportunity to increase efficiency in farming which will trigger more investments and trade within and across the sector, creating an immediate and long-term impact on income generation.

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AgroScout teams up with AECI Plant Health across Africa

AgroScout is proud to announce its partnership with AECI through AECI Plant Health. AgroScout solutions aim to give farmers the means to improve crop yields and optimize their use of inputs more sustainably. AECI Plant Health has tested the Agroscout technology on South Africa’s West Coast since the beginning of 2022, and the company is happy to accelerate its operation with AECI Plant Health as partners in all of South Africa.

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CIP’s Annual Report 2021 ‘From lab to field to scale’ now available online

The Lima-based International Potato Center’s (CIP) work to reduce hunger and malnutrition, boost farmer resilience, and catalyze income improvements generated benefits for men and women in more than 30 countries last year. To communicate some of those achievements and give people a sense of how CIP harnesses science to improve lives and livelihoods, the organization included varied examples in CIP’s Annual Report 2021: From lab to field to scale, which is now available online.

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Platform: ‘How the humble potato is already helping end world hunger’

“Consumed by more than a billion people worldwide, including many of the world’s poorest, potato has long been one of the most important crops to avert hunger,” Senior Scientist at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Kenya, Monica Parker, said prior to the 11th World Potato Congress convened in Dublin last month. In an article published by Irish Examiner, Parker says that with vulnerable smallholder farmers undertaking around a third of global production, potato provides a crucial stopgap.

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Technical advisory board named to support Global Biotech Potato Partnership

The Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership is a five-year project managed by Michigan State University that focuses on the commercialization of late blight disease resistant potatoes in farmer-preferred varieties in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, and Nigeria. The Partnership is pleased to announce members of the project’s technical advisory board (TAB).

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McCain announces new ‘Farm of the Future’ in South Africa at critical moment for the global food system

McCain Foods Limited has unveiled plans for a second ‘Farms of the Future’ in South Africa, as part of its drive to cut carbon emissions and tackle the impacts of climate change. At Farm of the Future Africa, the potential to grow multiple crops per year, innovate with irrigation technology in a water-scarce region as well as the challenges arising from the presence of soil-borne pests and diseases make it the ideal location for transferring learning to other parts of the world

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Agrico PSA connecting online with tens of thousands of Kenyan potato farmers

Agrico Potato Services Africa (PSA), producer of Kenyan certified seed potatoes, is proud to communicate another impressive milestone reached. The popularity of their Facebook page continue to grow rapidly in popularity, and the company says over 50,000 Kenyan potato farmers are now digitally connecting with Agrico PSA online via their Facebook page.

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CIP – The quest for certified seed: Cameroon learns seed potato lessons from Kenya

Potato is an important food and nutritional security crop in sub-Saharan Africa. However, a quick look reveals a glaring challenge faced by farmers across the continent: limited access to quality seed potato. The situation is no different in Cameroon. But recent success in Kenya – supported by the International Potato Center (CIP) – holds great promise for Cameroon and other SSA countries.

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Researchers developed organic technology from banana plant waste to combat PCN in East Africa

Potato production in East Africa is under increasing threat from the invasive and highly destructive potato cyst nematode (PCN) Globodera rostochiensis. Researchers have now developed an organic technology from banana plant waste material which might well being a practical solution for potato farmers. Dubbed ‘wrap-and-plant,’ the solution involves enclosing potato seed before planting in a thick absorbent paper made from the fibers of banana plants.

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Late blight disease resistant potatoes: MSU receives $13 million USAID award for research

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Feed the Future Initiative has awarded a five-year, $13 million award for a collaborative partnership led by Michigan State University (MSU).  The Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership will bring late blight disease resistant (LBR) potatoes in farmer-preferred varieties to the Asian countries of Bangladesh and Indonesia, and the African countries of Kenya and Nigeria.

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CIP highlights considerable spread of bacterial wilt disease in African countries

According to a survey of potato experts in 10 sub-Saharan African countries in 2018, the most serious threat to the region’s potato crop is bacterial wilt disease. Caused by the soil- and seed-borne bacteria Ralstonia solanacearum – a high-risk, quarantine pathogen in Europe and the Mediterranean – bacterial wilt is responsible for an estimated USD 1 billion of economic loss globally each year.

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Scottish seed potatoes rejected by Egypt, industry ponders risks of international trade

A valuable cargo of premium Scottish seed potatoes has reportedly been turned back from Egypt, at a cost traders estimate to be in the region of £1.5 million. It is understood 1,500 tonnes of Hermes seed potatoes from five or six suppliers is currently in limbo in Alexandria, after the load was rejected by Egyptian authorities because it failed to meet a December export deadline by one day.

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Kenyan farmers can now grow Markies potatoes to supply KFC with fries

The NThe National Potato Council and KFC in Kenya have identified the Markies potato variety that farmers in that country can now grow to supply the US-based fast-food chain with locally sourced French fries. The National Potato Council said KFC agreed in a meeting last week to have local farmers plant the Markies variety to cut overreliance on imports.

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The ‘potato crisis’ at the heart of Algeria’s imploding economy

Increasingly, the economic hardship in Algeria is being measured by the shortage of a staple product that is a key ingredient in such national dishes as tagine or chtitha batata: the potato. Indeed, the price of potatoes has almost tripled on the Algerian market in just a few months, becoming a symbol of the nation’s deteriorating economic situation, stirring up anger within modest households and igniting the risk of street protests.

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Global supply crisis: A growing shortage of french fries, from Japan to Kenya

As Miriam Berger reports in an article for The Washington Post, a number of popular items, including marmite and cream cheese, have faced scarcities amid supply chain disruptions wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and extreme weather. Potatoes are the latest to join the list, becoming unevenly available in some countries and fast-food chains because of a confluence of factors.

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KFC Kenya runs out of imported fries, now considers local suppliers ‘who meet standards’

Fast food chain KFC has suffered a shortage of French fries at its outlets in Kenya following delays in delivery from its overseas suppliers, forcing it to offer customers alternative food items in place of French fries. The company at first said it does not source potatoes for fries from local suppliers due to ‘global quality standards’, but then said on Tuesday this might happen ‘in the near future’.

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Going digital: South African potato farmers set to benefit from mobile data sharing app

The potato industry in South Africa is investing in various technologies to improve its sustainability, and is currently in the process of developing a mobile app to improve communication with members. Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes SA the app will allow farmers to identify problem spots and compare production from different areas on their farms, and over time, [and] also [to] compare production with what has been achieved in previous seasons.

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CIP: Putting the world’s largest potato collection in the deep freeze

The International Potato Center (CIP) is conserving the future of potato genetic diversity in the world’s largest potato cryobank and setting new standards to transform the way that other priority clonal crops like sweetpotato and yams are held in safe storage. These innovations ensure we have an essential backup collection of the clonal crops that 300 million smallholders in developing countries depend on.

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Potato prices in South Africa doubled over the past year

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.

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Monitoring project proves successful for potato tuber moth management in South Africa

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.

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‘Nuru’: An AI-powered phone app for African farmers expanded to include potato diseases

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).

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Kenyan research station banking on high quality potato seed production and distribution

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.

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Africa Potato Association to hold 12th Triennial Conference in Malawi

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.

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‘G+ Tools’: A new gender-responsive toolkit for breeding

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.

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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.

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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.

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Expiration of anti-dumping tariffs on fries leaves South African potato industry vulnerable

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.”

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How to fertilise a potato crop: An African experience

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. 

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