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SASHA Brief 2011: Sweetpotato seed systems: A question of quantity and quality

Sweetpotato (SP) is a vegetatively propagated crop grown with short cropping cycle. Each cropping cycle starts by planting cuttings. Most crops propagated vegetatively include SP accumulate diseases, such as viruses, through each successive generation. This can lead to significant declines in yield. Throughout SSA, most farmers source their planting material from their own fields or from neighbors. While some farmers recognize virus symptoms and avoid using infected vines, many do not. Moreover, many viruses are symptomless, impeding farmer selection of disease free or “clean” planting material. This brief documents project set to achieve a seed system that ensures that growers have ready access to adequate quantities of planting material of the preferred varieties, and of the quality they need, at the time they are ready to plant and at a reasonable price. This will resolve key bottlenecks in the existing system, addressing quality and quantity concerns. Substantial achievements are reported; the validation of triple ‘S’ method for use by poor farmers, as regards to improving vine quality, initial tests with netting to exclude vectors in the field and with hydroponic production in protected screen houses showed that it is possible to maintain planting material as virus free. Next steps are to establish the demand for and potential commercial viability of virus-free planting material.


Gibson, R.W. and Krueze, J.F. 2011. Sweetpotato seed systems: A question of quantity and quality. International Potato Center (CIP).