Editorial: Prioritise crop variety improvement

Over 40 million seedlings of orange-flesh sweet potatoes were distributed in Musanze District by International Potato Centre (CIP) last week. The distribution is part of efforts to sensitise the public about the new Vitamin A-rich sweet potato variety.

Over 40 million seedlings of orange-flesh sweet potatoes were distributed in Musanze District by International Potato Centre (CIP) last week. The distribution is part of efforts to sensitise the public about the new Vitamin A-rich sweet potato variety.

The orange-flesh sweet potato offers higher returns and yields within a shorter period of time compared to other local varieties.

 

The potato variety is a good demonstration that with research based farming, you can’t go wrong.

 

With this new variety, a farmer harvests an average of twelve tones in three and a half months on  just one hectare,  compared to local varieties that produce only five tonnes per hectare, and take between six and eight months to mature.

 

This initiative should be replicated to improve varieties of other key traditional food crops like Irish potatoes, cassava, maize and fruits, among others.  Going forward, more research in agriculture is critical to ensure that as a country, we have the right type of crop varieties that will be resistant to pests and diseases on top of giving higher yields.

To achieve this, more resources should be invested in ventures aimed at improving crop varieties.

Research is the corner stone of making informed decisions and it is the only way, the country will be able to fully transform the agricultural sector.

The agriculture ministry should put more efforts in funding research aimed at improving crop varieties.

We have had cases where farmers have been left counting losses as a result of planting seed varieties that are not suitable.  In some cases these seeds have been acquired using bank loans. To avoid such scenarios agriculture based decisions from the policy level to the individual farmers should be based on research.

Research based agriculture will go a long way in boosting national development.

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