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Farmers in Tanzania benefit from more resilient potato varieties

Farmers in Tanzania benefit from more resilient potato varieties

Thanks to resistant potato varieties, Late Blight is no longer a serious threat to the highland farmers in Lushoto, Tanzania
(Courtesy: D. Harahagazwe CIP)

Situated in the Northeast of Tanzania, the district of Lushoto is part of the so called highlands of Tanzania where potatoes are traditionally grown. Due to heat and lack of resilient potato varieties, farmers would lose all the crop especially when they grow the local variety called Kidinya which is extremely susceptible to Late Blight disease.

To address these issues, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), initiated a study aimed at developing more resilient potato varieties that can grow in both long and short rainy seasons and give higher yields.

(Click to enlarge)

Some of the farmers who trialed climate-smart potato varieties in Lushoto, Tanzania.
(Courtesy: S. Quinn CIP)

The study, initiated in 2013, was led by the International Potato Center (CIP) in partnership with Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), Lushoto District Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Cooperatives Office (DAICO), YARA Tanzania Limited, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Lushoto farmers.

Lushoto is the most densely populated rural district in Tanzania. Situated in the north-east of the country, Lushoto is part of the Tanzanian highlands where potatoes are traditionally grown.
(Courtesy: S. Kilungu, CCAFS)

Lushoto is the most densely populated rural district in Tanzania. Situated in the north-east of the country, Lushoto is part of the Tanzanian highlands where potatoes are traditionally grown.

Even though potato is a traditional crop, farmers can plant economically only once a year due to heat during the short rainy season.

Potato productivity is severely reduced by high temperatures, droughts and climate-driven pests and diseases such as aphids, Late Blight and viruses.

Using participatory action research, this study aimed to empower smallholder farmers to plant year-round while increasing yields. Potatoes may be grown on small terraces on steep hills such as these.
(Courtesy: D. Harahagazwe, CIP)

Based on demand by Lushoto farmers, this participatory action research (PAR) also sought to develop potato varieties with better culinary traits.

The trials were carried out in five villages: Kwesine, Boheloi, Maringo, Kwekitui and Milungui with experimental materials comprising of six advanced and heat tolerant clones from CIP.

‘Asante’ means 'thank you' in Swahili. Now, for farmers in Usambara, Northern Tanzania, 'Asante' also describes a recently introduced potato variety, which is helping the region become climate-smart.
(Courtesy: S. Quinn, CIP)

The data collected from three seasons of field evaluations showed a certain consistency in the high yielding ability of four genotypes: Asante, Shangii, CIP392797.22 and CIP398208.29.

Two clones were named through a stepwise and participatory approach and proposed for official release.

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Findings are presented in a recently published working paper entitled Participatory Evaluation of Resilient Potato Varieties in Climate-Smart Villages of Lushoto in Tanzania

Findings are presented in a recently published working paper entitled Participatory Evaluation of Resilient Potato Varieties in Climate-Smart Villages of Lushoto in Tanzania.
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The International Potato Center or Centro Internacional de la Papa (also known by its Spanish acronym, CIP) seeks to reduce poverty and achieve food security on a sustained basis in developing countries.