The world op Potato research: Subsahara

Anton HaverkortPotato is booming in Africa. Recently the ninth triennial meeting of the African Potato Association took place at Naivasha, Kenya.

Anton Haverkort

Anton Haverkort

Potato is booming in Africa. Recently the ninth triennial meeting of the African Potato Association took place at Naivasha, Kenya. The meeting was attended by some 350 potato and sweet potato researchers and representatives of the industry from all over Africa. I was present at the launching of the organization in September 1985 and have not missed one of the meetings in Kenya, Madagascar, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa. The next, in 2016, will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When I started to work in Rwanda in 1981 the country counted 4 million inhabitants and produced 250,000 tons of potato on 45,000 ha. Currently there are well over 10 million Rwandans growing 2 million tons on 160,000 hectares. Potato production increased almost 3 times more than population. Potato consumption in Rwanda, 125 kg per person per year, is one of the highest in the world. The two other major sources of energy and protein in Rwanda are cassava and plantains. In the early 80ies of the past century Rwandan farmers mainly grew old European mixtures of varieties and did not apply chemical fertilizers nor fungicides. Nowadays they have adapted varieties, some informal seed systems and chemicals are used more by the day.
anton.haverkort@wur.nl