In a groundbreaking move to propel Rwanda’s agricultural sector to new heights, the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) is spearheading trials on two innovative potato varieties, ‘cyerekezo’ and ‘twihaze,’ in the fertile grounds of Eastern Province. This strategic initiative aims to not only boost the nation’s potato production but also revolutionize the agricultural landscape with varieties tailored for hot regions and irrigated land.
Unleashing the Power of Innovation
The ‘cyerekezo’ and ‘twihaze’ varieties, currently undergoing trials, have showcased remarkable adaptability to hot climates, making them ideal for the Eastern Province’s 42,218 hectares of irrigated land. Theophile Ndacyayisenga, a seasoned potato scientist at RAB, highlights the potential of these varieties, with a promising yield projection ranging from 25 to 40 tonnes per hectare.
Paving the Way for Agricultural Expansion
Aligned with Rwanda’s ambitious goal to cultivate 63,328 hectares of Irish potatoes by the 2024 Season A, this initiative represents a significant stride towards achieving agricultural expansion. Florence Uwamahoro, Deputy Director General of Agriculture at RAB, envisions extending the cultivation of Irish potatoes not only in the Eastern Province but also across new areas in the country.
In an exclusive interview with The New Times, Uwamahoro emphasizes the importance of promoting potato farming in response to land constraints in certain regions. The ongoing trials in the Eastern Province, despite facing challenges like drought, reflect RAB’s commitment to identifying robust varieties suited for priority crops in this expansive region.
Addressing Potato Scarcity: A Pan-Provincial Approach
Potatoes have traditionally thrived in volcanic regions, including Burera, Musanze, Nyabihu, Rubavu, Nyaruguru, and Nyamagabe districts. Uwamahoro sheds light on RAB’s concerted efforts to promote potato farming in the Eastern Province, countering land limitations in other parts of the country.
“We are looking for good varieties to be grown here as priority crops since the area has a lot of land, which is not under pressure,” says Uwamahoro, emphasizing the pivotal role of Eastern Province in shaping Rwanda’s potato future.
Community Voices: Bridging the Supply Gap
Residents of Nyagatare attest to the challenges of obtaining potatoes, with high market prices affecting availability. Ildephonse Nangwahafi, a resident of Nyagatare sector, shares insights with The New Times, highlighting the strain faced by the region in accessing Irish potatoes and the dependency on supplies from Musanze at elevated costs.
A Glimpse into the Numbers
Recent data from the Rwanda National Institute of Statistics (NISR) reveals a nine percent reduction in the cultivated land for Irish potatoes, dropping from 52,858 hectares in the previous Season B to 48,210 hectares. This underscores the urgency and importance of initiatives like RAB’s trials to address challenges and pave the way for a more robust potato cultivation landscape.
In conclusion, RAB’s commitment to innovation and expansion is poised to reshape Rwanda’s potato narrative. The ongoing trials of ‘cyerekezo’ and ‘twihaze’ varieties represent a bold step towards securing food sustainability, enhancing agricultural productivity, and ensuring a prosperous future for the nation.
Source: The New Times (Link)
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