Farmers in Burera District, Cyanika sector, Northern Province say that after undergoing training they are currently making profit by selecting and multiplying healthy potatoes seed stocks.
The training known as positive selection is a simple practice in managing the quality of seed potato. It involves selecting healthy-looking, vigorous mother plants to obtain by themselves allowed them to have cheap seeds that they used to buy expensively.
Every farmer has seed’s stock at home and they multiply them after being trained by selecting those seeds through a process called positive selection which is a simple practice in managing the quality of seed potato by selecting those that are healthy-looking, vigorous mother plants to obtain high quality seed tubers in the following season.
Farmers used to buy Irish potato seed stock expensively and this is the problem led them to try and multiply potatoes seeds by themselves.
“We bought potato seeds RWF700 per one kilo which was called umubeno and that was expensive to us small-scale farmers who were not capable of investing much money,” said Hagumimana Jean Damascene.
Annonciata Bampoyiki, a farmer, says that they had a problem of buying seeds at a high price and selling Irish potatoes at a lower price which caused a loss to the farmers.
‘’There is a big loss because of buying Irish potato seeds at RWF 700 and selling Irish potatoes at a lower price when we went to the market where our clients paid us RWF 150 per kilo,” explained Annonciata Bampoyiki.
Bigirimana Jean Baptiste from Cyanika sector said “The problem was that our district’s neighbors were used to cultivating before we started to cultivate and they would come to us and buy all the potato seeds. Even if we had seed multipliers, we did not have enough potato seeds.
This is because they were not capable of supplying all the farmers compared to the demand and those seeds were expensive, because there was a time when we bought them at RWF 800 per kilo then many farmers decided not to buy them.”
Farmers received training through Twigire Muhinzi groups
The problem of potato seeds has been solved by FFS Facilitators who are trained to help farmers carry out Positive Selection as well as showing them how to multiply potato seeds by themselves.
“Being trained has helped us to have enough potato seeds in our homes for example, my wife and I have multiplied our potato seeds and there is no problem of buying seeds at a high price,” said Damascene.
“After being trained on how we can do Positive Selection of seeds and multiplying them by ourselves there is enough seeds and small scale farmers are buying seeds cheaply because a kilogram of Irish potatoes seeds is bought at RWF 300,” explained Bampoyiki.
“What we do in order to make seeds multiply includes storing crops in a granary and wait for the growth. Although growth may at times appear to be slow, some “seedlings “germinate rapidly when exposed to the light,” said Evaste.
“Farmers receiving training where they do positive selection which is a simple practice to manage seed potato quality by selecting healthy-looking, vigorous mother plants to obtain the quality of seed tubers during the following season’s crop.
This Positive Selection developed is an approach to improve or obtain the quality seed potato by Ware potato growers, complementary to specialized seed production system,” explained Ignace Nteziryayo a zone Agriculture Productivity Officer (Hinga Weze Project)
Step for seeds multiplication
Plantlets of Irish potatoes give mini tubers in greenhouse, Mini tubers give pre-basic seed potatoes, pre-basic seed give basic potatoes while, basic seeds potatoes give certified seeds (category one); certified seeds give certified seed potatoes (category 2). In general, certified seed give commercial Irish potatoes for consumers.
“When producing and multiplying Irish potato we do so from small pieces of plant tissue (vitro plant) in a laboratory to mini tubers, up to the certified seeds distributed to farmers,” Pierre Roger Nshimiyimana says.
Nshimiyimana pointed out that seed production and multiplication cycle takes about eight months for seeds to be available as Irish potatoes take about four months to be harvested and another four months’ dormancy period to become seeds.
Challenges to the farmers
“As long as we multiply Irish potatoes ourselves at home, we get challenges of seeds that are being diseased and we encounter losses because the seeds we multiply are not under a controlled environment (greenhouses) and they are not protected against extraneous pathogenic agents,” Bigirimana said.
According to farmer Marie Claire Uwamahoro, some of the challenges they face range from lack of warehouses, improved storage quality seeds, very small fields and monitoring inspection for certification is expensive.