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Irish potato farmers upbeat as government moves to address seed shortage

In Rwanda, the State minister of Agriculture Fulgence Ngengiyumva visits one of the seed potato warehouses in the Northern Province.

Potato farmers from Northern Province in Rwanda can breathe a sigh of relief as the government is stepping in to address the existing gap in the supply of quality seed potatoes.

The Ministry of Agriculture and partners have pledged to establish modern seed potato warehouses and greenhouses to ensure supply of quality seeds.

Farmers say they have had to import Irish potato seeds because of the lack of quality seeds in the local market.

Aphonse Nizeyimana, who plants at least 500 kilogrammes of seeds per season:

“We choose the smallest Irish potatoes from what we harvest and store them as seeds but these are of poor quality that leads to low yields.”

“The quality is further impacted by the fact that we do not store them in ideal conditions of storage that lead them to decay and get damaged.”

“An alternative has been to import seeds at Rwf500/kg (0.58 USD/kg) a cost too high. And often, the imports are of poor quality.”

“As more seed potato warehouses come in with good quality seeds at affordable prices, it will double our agricultural productivity.”
Rwanda requires at least 120,000 tonnes of quality seed potatoes per year but only 25 per cent of the demand is met.

However, they say in the next three seasons, the local supply could be 50 per cent of the demand as government and partners invest more efforts in seed multiplication and warehouses to meet the demand by 2021.

The State Minister of Agriculture Fulgence Ngengiyumva said that there is need to build other seed warehouses around border points so as to help farmers who used to import seeds from neighboring countries.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources recently inaugurated five modern potato seed warehouses in the Western and Northern region of Rwanda and a greenhouse Burera district, all at a cost of Rwf460 million (529,000.00 USD) to help farmers address seed shortage.

According to Salomon Mbarushimana, the president of Seed Potato Fund in Rwanda that will manage the facilities, seed multiplication and warehouses construction will help ease seed shortage.