“Growing Wealth and Health”

The APA Conference was organized by the Ethiopian Institute Agricultural Research (EIAR) with the support of the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoANR) and the International Potato Center (CIP).
It was held from October 9th to 13th, 2016 at the UNECA Conference Center, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. More than 300 participants from 34 countries attended, out of which 37 participants were from non-African countries. It was also the first time at an APA Conference that the private sector had been given a slot to meet, network and discuss on the way forward concerning commercialization of potato and sweet potato in the African market and the challenges faced. Research for Development reached a new practical dimension through this meeting, when the various stakeholders necessary for promoting this development had the opportunity to meet and profit from the various experiences especially from other African countries in this respect.



Uptake, Adaption and output from accelerated breeding programs for Sweetpotato in sub-Saharan Africa

Presented by E.E. Carey.

Traditionally, sweetpotato breeding schemes, like those of other tropical root and tuber crops such as yam and cassava, the selection process could take up to 8 years, from crossing to variety release.

This longtime frame is challenging because research projects are typically funded for 3-5 years. Recent experience backed by variance component estimates in early breeding stages of sweetpotato, has shown that the breeding process can be reduced considerably to 4 years, from crossing to variety submission for release.

Sweetpotato genotypes are propagated clonally (i.e. each true seed plant germinating is already a potential variety). The “only” challenge is to identify the “best” clones and new varieties that have the clonal generation (i.e. observational trial stage) allows breeders to rapidly capture G *E  advance genotypes which combine desired quality attributes, disease, and pest resistance, and high and stable yields.

This contrasts with the conventional practice of one site for observational trials. In sweetpotato temporal variation of testy environments (years) can largely be replaced by a spatial variation of test environments (locations), which allows the selection process to be sped up-the so-called accelerat5ed breeding scheme (ABS). Since ABS was proposed in 2009, it has been adopted and adapted by a number of breeding programs in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Peru, ABS was initially launched for four varieties in 2010. This paper presents experiences from southern, East, and West Africa and Peru on the breeding and release of new sweetpotato varieties using ABS. ABS has led to the release and /or registration of up to 59 varieties: 22 in Mozambique; 6 in Rwanda; 5 each in Malawi, Zambia, and Burkina Faso; 2 in Uganda; and 4 in Peru-all in under 5 years, from crossing to release. Challenges remain to align national varietal release committee requirements with the new ABS, the management skill required to handle thousands of clones in multiple sites in unreplicated field trials (e.g. using the Westcott check design, and the need to strengthen pre-basic and basic seed systems to handle the increased frequency of release and demand for clean planting materials. Early indications are that using ABS is resulting in the release of new varieties that are being adopted widely in several countries.

Towards Zero-fungicide4, genetically modified potatoes for Africa

By Andrew Kiggundu

Late Blight (LB) of potato, caused by Phytophthora infestans, is one of the most devastating diseases of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) in Africa and in many parts of the world. Conventional cross-breeding to develop resistance has met with challenges of the length of breeding time and durability of resistance in the hybrids developed. Three resistance genes 9RB, Rpi-blb2, and Rpi-vnt1.1) previously cloned from two wild potatoes, S. bubocastanum and S. venturii, and the availability of a potato transformation system allowed us to introduce all three genes into cultivated varieties in order to develop durable resistance.

The genes were introduced into two cultivated potato varieties ‘Desiree’ and ‘Victoria’. The genetically modified (GM) potatoes generated were field-evaluated in Uganda at the Kachwekano Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute in Kabale. Twelve transgenic events of the variety ‘Desiree’ and one of the variety ‘Victoria’ were tested in three replications, each consisting of randomized complete block design of plots of 15 plants each. The results indicate that all 13 transgenic events are completely resistant to LB disease. These GM potatoes, if incorporated into the seed potato system for uptake by farmers in Africa and elsewhere, offer a great opportunity for durable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution to the management of LB disease in potato. Consequently, farmers could discontinue their current practice of spraying toxic chemicals to control diseases. The n4ext steps for further development of these lines into commercial varieties for Africa and the associated deregulation challenges are discussed.


Food security, nutrition –sensitive agriculture, and technology adoption: the state of potato and sweetpotato in Ethiopia

By Demese Chnayalew

The crop development policies and strategies of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia focus on three major categories: food, industrial, and export crops. Among the food crops, potatoes and sweetpotatoes are valuable for food and nutrition security at household level, providing highly nutritious quality protein, vitamins, and micronutrients. Recently, potato has come to be viewed as an alternative crop for climate change adaptation, too. Despite this, the crop development policies and strategies are biased towards grain. This bias, along with related policies and strategies, has partially contributed to the low levels of cultivated area and production of roots and tubers in general and potato band sweetpotato in particular.

Within an agricultural research and development environment dominated by grain development policies and strategies, however, research and extension institutions never quit generating, developing, , multiplying and distributing improved potato and sweetpotato technologies, including variety and agronomic practices. This paper assesses the technology generation and adoption in different parts of the country; it analyses existing policies, strategies, and institutional arrangements. Information generated through documentation review and discussions with selected and targeted key informants provided adoption levels of improved potato and sweetpotato varieties and helps to explain existing constraints and plausible solutions for increased productivity and production. Comparative analysis is also made with other developing countries, specifically those in the East Africa region as a whole.


Farmer perceptions, adoption, and effects of quality seed potato in sub-Saharan Africa: economic, social, and gender perspectives

By Julius Okello

Potato is principal food security and income crop for smallholder farmers of tropical highlands of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), yet yields have stagnated at 8-12 t/ha-much less than international averages-due to the use of poor quality seed. Recent efforts to increase yields and close the yield gap in SSA have focused on developing seed systems to encourage the use of quality seed. Efforts to increase the supply of quality seed have spurred investments in rapid seed multiplication technologies that shorten the time it takes to produce quality seed. The investments are also aimed at addressing the problem of poor access to quality seed, a major bottleneck to developing potato value chains. This paper draws from the experiences of East and Southern African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi, which have recently taken steps to tackle the seed potato quality bottleneck. It is based on a review of studies that have used a mixture4 of qualitative and quantitative methods (e.g. microeconomic, economic psychology, and gender analysis). These studies have aimed to assess farmer, farm, market, and non-market, risk, and gender-specific factors in farmers’ decisions to use quality seed, their willingness to pay for it, and the effects and barriers of using quality seed. The paper finds that the decision to use quality seed is affected by a complex mix of factors. These include farmer access/capacity to quality seed, a wide range of socioeconomic and personal factors, and the market risks associated with the use of quality seed. It also finds that its use is associated with increased yields and income. The paper discusses the policy implications of the findings.


Roots, Tubers and Bananas: planning for climate resilience

By Graham Thiele

More than 300m people below the poverty line in developing countries depend on root, tuber and banana crops for food and income, particularly in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB) is working globally to harness the untapped potential of those crops in order to improve food security, nutrition, income, and climate change and variability resilience of smallholder production systems. RTB is changing the way research centers work and collaborate, creating a more cohesive and multidisciplinary approach to common challenges and goals through knowledge sharing, multidirectional communications, communities of practice, and crosscutting initiatives. Participating centers work with an array of national and international institutions, non-governmental organizations, and stakeholders’’ groups. RTB aims to promote greater cooperation among them while strengthening their capacities as key players. Because the impact of RTB research is highly dependent on it adoption by users, the program’s research options are designed and developed together with partners, clients, and other stakeholders, and are informed by their needs and preferences. Climate change will have multiple impacts on poverty and vulnerability. Recent studies by the World Bank suggest that one of the most significant routes for this impact will be through increased food prices, which may undo progress in poverty reduction and it will be through increased food prices, which may und progress in poverty reduction and will make achieving Sustainable Development Goals increasingly difficult. This underlines the urgency of investment in mid-to-long-term strategic research to improve climate resilience. The presentation looks at progress in understanding the current trends and forecasting the changes that may occur to guide research; it examines some of the critical issues that will face potato and sweetpotato farmers; and ends with a plea for climate-smart research and breeding. And though this includes many of the things we already do, we need to do them faster, better, and smarter.


Netherlands public-private partnerships aimed at co-innovation in the potato value chain in emerging markets

By Anton J. Haverkort

Four years ago, the Netherlands government identified 10so-called “Top Sectors” OF THE ECONOMY (e.g. “water management” and “chemistry”). Two sectors closely linked to Wageningen Research are “propagation material” and “Agro&Food”. The objectives are to carry out research that is more relevant to the industry and future profits and less so as to ministerial policy makers. Wageningen University and Research Centers (UR) and a group of businesses will form a consortium needs to comprise a number of companies in order to avoid state aid to a particular one, which is forbidden by the European Union so as to ensure a level playing field among countries. Having some companies present that have the same product is encouraged. Half the budget comes from companies who participate; they may also use their participation as a contribution to the budget (i.e. “in kind”). The other 50% of the funding is from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and goes to UR scientists involved in the consortium. A steering committee, which consists of representatives of the consortia and not from Wageningen UR or from the ministry, approves the work plans and reports. Since 2013, half dozen public-private [partnerships (PPP) on potato research projects have started working ad hoc with established consortia as well as with existing ones such as the Netherlands Agro and Food Technology Centre and the SGRO Food Cluster. The consortia ideally cover the whole value chain: breeding and seed production firms, manufacturers, potato stores equipment, crop protection, advisory services, and firms producing equipment for the production of crisps and frozen chips. As a result, current projects are underway in China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia. Deliverables include marketing studies, assessments of store performance, setting up of demonstration firms, and establishing processing factories. The 4 approach of PPP in the Netherlands proves to be a suitable instrument to link companies to potato research groups at Wageningen UR. Consortia steer research to obtain information, and interdisciplinary potato research groups co-innovate with the potato industry within emerging markets.