Why Kinigi variety is still topping other potato varieties on the Eastern Africa market
As much as new potato varieties are needed so as to meet the current needs of the market, Kinigi variety in Rwanda still holds a high level of satisfaction to farmer as well as to the community of potato consumers. With the eleven varieties that are already breed and grown in Rwanda, Kinigi variety has kept its stand being on top in the market, considering many factors. According to Anastase Nduwayezu, researcher in potato pathology at Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) in Musanze zone, ever since this variety was introduced, it has been largely liked by farmers.This, Nduwayezu attributed it to its remarkable traits over the other varieties such as its sweetness, low moisture content which is preferable for processing and easiness to be stored for a long time.
This variety is also said to be disease resistant just like Mabondo and Cruza compared to Kirundo which has been found to be prone to different potato diseases. It is largely grown in the northern province and in other regions across the country.
Processors such as Winnaz in Musanze, last year during a field visit by International Potato Center together with RAB in the area, admitted to Kinigi being their favorite when it comes at making crisps over the other varieties available in Rwanda.
Some farmers in Musanze also testified to Kinigi being the most preferred due to the fact that financially, it brings more money to a farmer after selling than other varieties like Kirundo, Mabondo, Cruza, Sangema among many.
It is said to be heavy, and for a farmer who sells their harvest at the collection center, a kilogram of Kinigi may go for Rwf170 ($0.2) whereas the other varieties stand at Rwf120 ($0.15) and less.
Although other varieties may have higher yields as it has been proved during trials carried out by RAB, many farmers want to grow Kinigi because it has more advantages over the rest.
For Alphonse Manikiza, a farmer in Musanze, other varieties may be grown for eating and Kinigi for economic purposes so as to strike a balance between getting food for the family and to sell for income.
Potato is among the priority crops under the government’s Crop Intensification Program designed to increase food security in Rwanda. Irish potato is grown in all parts of the country with Cruza largely grown in the southern province and Kinigi in the northern. Potato is also considered as a staple food in Rwanda and worldwide.
The government has also put much effort in value addition to potato farming in Rwanda through agro-processing leading to proliferation of potato processing factories, now producing value-added products for mainly exports purposes. With this effort, potato farmers are assured of getting ready market for their produce as well as improving their livelihoods.