Panafrican News Agency

Rwanda aims to help smallholder growers improve sweet potato output

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) -  In its struggle to produce enough food for its population, Rwanda emphasises the application of genetic engineering, a government official said on Thursday in Kigali.

Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) Director General, Patrick Karangwa explained that the country will try a potato variety known as Victoria because it has proven to be resistant to late blight, a destructive potato disease locally known as Imvura.

He said that the potato variety has been developed by the International Potato Centre (CIP).

"There are currently a number of projects using GMO (genetically modified organism) and non-GMO techniques to do that (increase crop yield)," the Rwandan sernior researcher said.

Reports by the CIP indicate that sweet potato is one of the world’s most important food crops in terms of human consumption, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

With high starch content, it is well suited to processing and has become an important source of raw material for starch and starch-derived industrial products.

New potato varieties, which mature early (in 90 days) with resistance to pests, are already available to growers in Rwanda.

Currently, the country produces 916,000 tonnes of Irish potatoes every year, making it the third main staple in Rwanda after cassava and sweet potatoes.

-0- PANA TWA/AR 29Aug2019