Farmers stare at shortage of potato seeds

Friday August 7 2020

potatoes

Rwanda risks severe shortage of Irish potato due to a slow distribution of seeds due to restrictions on movement among seed distributor. Photo | Cyril NDEGEYA  

LEONCE MUVUNYI
By LEONCE MUVUNYI
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Farmer risks suffering from shortage of Irish potato due to distribution hurdles due to restrictions on movement of distributors caused by measures to contain spread of Covid-19.

Irish potato is among the most important crops in the country and the government's six priority crops under the Crop Intensification Program (CIP).

The country tripled Irish potato production from 2.24 million tonnes in 2013 to 6 million tonnes in 2019, mainly by increasing production land, use of fertilisers and mechanization.

However, Rwanda Today has learnt that the coronavirus pandemic has crippled the seed multiplication and distribution in all districts leading in the production of Irish potatoes.

The most affected districts are Musanze, Burera and Gicumbi districts in the Northern Province, Rubavu and Nyabihu districts in the western province and Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe districts in the southern province.

“We currently have no Irish potato seeds because the seeds multiplication chain has been crippled by current Covid-19 related settings and usual setbacks,” Denis Munzuyarwo, an Irish farmer and co-ordinator of Irish farmers in Northern Province told Rwanda Today.

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“We have requested 42 metric tonnes from the Rwanda Agriculture Board to prepare the next farming season but we have not received even a single kilogramme,” he added.

According to farmers the size of land cultivated has gone down due to the limited financial flows and health concerns, which have eventually affected the multiplication and preservation of the seed.

“While the Irish potato farming requires huge investment, during the lockdown, farmers were only allowed to cash out Rwf100, 000 on a daily basis, under which it would require them over two weeks to get over Rwf1.5 million, which is an average capital investment for irish farming for one hectare,” Joseph Gafaranga, the secretary-general of the farmers’ organisation told Rwanda Today.

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