Published on 14 Jun, 2021

SEAD contributed to improving the potato value chain to enhance quality and productivity in the Northern and Western provinces in Rwanda.

Blog Featured Image - SEAD contributed to improving the potato value chain to enhance quality and productivity in the Northern and Western provinces in Rwanda.

According to the Strategic Plan for Agriculture transformation phase 4 (PSTA4) potatoes are a priority crop in Rwanda, it is mostly cultivated in the northern west region (mainly in Burera, Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu Districts) due to the favourable climatic conditions.  

In this region potato farmers used to face many challenges including lack of quality seeds, pests and diseases, low return on investment, yield loss, skills gap in good agricultural practices, all of which led to low productivity and thus low income and unsustainable food security. To address the above challenges, different tailor-made trainings were provided to smallholder farmers, agribusinesses and especially agronomists by the SEAD project in the north and western regions of Rwanda.

After 4 years of these interventions, farmers and agronomists provided their testimonies about the impact of the SEAD interventions on the increase of the production and thus socio-economic improvement.

Ndikubwimana Leonard, Rugarama sector agronomist said that ‘’I attended the advanced training for  Agronomists on pesticide and fertilizer application organized by the SEAD project and  the international expert told us that in the Netherlands, they can get 80 tons of potatoes per hectare and I couldn’t believe it, I thought that it was a dream because a farmer here in Burera gets approximately between 15-18 tons potatoes per hectare, so I learnt to maximise my farm.

In the same training, a trainer showed us how important crop rotation is; I remember a trainer told us that if we really want to increase the yield, we must know the crop requirements and status of the soil nutrients.

After the training, Leonard went back and started putting into practice what he learnt together with other two farmers (Munyarukiko jean Damascene and ntawukiriramwabo Adrien).  Leonard said that they set up a demo plot; and followed all recommendations of fertilizer application, pesticide application up to harvesting as per the SEAD training.

During the harvesting, they observed a significant yield increase, per hectare: The first one Munyarukiko got 45 tonnes per hectare and the second farmer Adrien got 42 tonnes per hectare which was not the case previously

He continued saying that ‘’I didn’t stop there instead I got courage of putting more effort and replicate the experience to other farmers and I am planning to set up other trials to different areas of Burera, in collaboration with other sector agronomists”.

Although I still have a long way to go. I really thank the SEAD project for enhancing our knowledge and skills along the potato value chain, which really improved the quality and quantity of potatoes yield. It was very beneficial to me and shows significant changes in farming practices.

Not only Leonard testified the impact of the project but also other agronomists like Twambajimana Telesphore from Rubavu district who said ‘’SEAD trainings and study visits were a good asset for me to support farmers. It helped me to gain more knowledge and skills on profitable farming that is necessary to our farmers. The trainings also helped me to be able to support farmers in a better way with more practical skills I gained from the training’’.

’Extension services are critical for higher learning and TVET institutions to improve the delivery of their programmes because it increases the relevance and understanding of issues that education and research must address. Close collaboration with Higher Learning Institutions is very important, so the different trainings I got didn’t not only refresh my knowledge upon different topics but also have helped me to understand new technological developments in Agriculture’’. Sibomana Vedaste an agronomist from Cyuve