By Donata Kiiza & Aime Ndayisenga
Having had a successful story in promoting the Orange-fleshed sweetpotato in Rwanda, International Potato Centrer (CIP) is pushing to see how to breed more potato varieties, making Rwanda the leading potato hub across the region.
This was discussed on Friday, August 11 when CIP and Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) officials sat together to find the way forward towards this cause. The meeting which was held at Rwanda Agriculture Board headquarters in Rubirizi included experts in research, potato scientists and breeders.
During the meeting, Dr. Hugo Campos, the CIP director of research from Peru said that Rwanda having the highest consumption percapita of potatoes, it is crucial to increase the number of potato varieties in the country.
“Not only is it essential and necessary to breed more varieties of potato in our hubs, but we must also consider the fact that potatoes are known to have an impact on nutrition, especially on children below five years. Being rich in the number of vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iron and magnesium, potato helps in prevention of anemia and stunted growth in children,” said Dr. Campos.
Dr. Campos also added that for this to happen, there is need to partner with the right institutions such as Rwanda Agriculture Board for successful implementation of this plan.
The head of research at Rwanda Agriculture Board, Patrick Karangwa, supported the cause. He affirmed his support through working with other stakeholders such as USAID and other donors so as to see that funds are available for the implementation of a potato breeding program.
Dr. Campos, during his remarks, also added that they plan to shorten the breeding program to about 7 years compared to the 12 years that were spent to release a new breed of potato in previous years. This will help make the life of people in Rwanda and the region easier as they will have enough varieties of potato on the market to eat as well as food processors, who require a range of varieties to serve their purposes.