Experts have called for more efforts from different stakeholders to breed more potato varieties.
The call was made recently during a meeting between officials from International Potato Centre (CIP) and Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), which took place at the RAB centre in Rubirizi, Kicukiro District.
During the meeting, Dr Hugo Campos, CIP’s director of research in Peru said that with Rwanda having the highest consumption per capita of potato, it is crucial to create more varieties of potato in the country.
Campos noted that potatoes have a high nutritious benefit for consumers hence calling for partnerships with institutions such as RAB to implement this plan.
“Not only is it essential and necessary to breed more varieties of potato in our hubs but also we must consider the fact that potatoes are known to have a nutrition impact especially on children below five years,” said Campos.
Being rich in a number of vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iron and magnesium, this will help in prevention of anemia and stunted growth within children,” he added.
Patrick Karangwa, the head of research at Rwanda Agriculture Board supported the cause affirming his support to work with other stakeholders such as USAID so as to find funds for the implementation of a potato breeding programme under International Potato Centre.
Campos also added that they plan to make the breeding programme short, to about 7 years or less compared to the 12 years that were spent to release a new breed of potato in previous years.
This, he clarified that it will make life of the people in Rwanda easier as they will have enough varieties of potato on the market.
CIP’s delegation also visited a breeding station in Musanze where they toured different research facilities such as the plant pathology lab, tissue culture lab and the aeroponic screen house.
They also visited Hollanda FairFoods, makers of Winnaz crisps in the area as an example of value addition to potatoes. Egide Niyibizi, the supervisor at this factory said that they have failed to find a suitable variety of potato for making crisps.
Currently using Kinigi as their first priority, Niyibizi said that they also use Rwanguma and Sangoma as their second best in times of scarcity.