Thursday, June 20, 2024
Home News Poor Practices, Lack Of A Seed System Blamed For Drop In Irish Potato Production

Poor Practices, Lack Of A Seed System Blamed For Drop In Irish Potato Production

by Jacquiline Nakandi
0 comment

By Angel Nabweteme and Joshua Kato

Uganda has registered significant decline in production of Irish potatoes in most regions. The challenge comes at a time when the demand for chips and crisps among others has shot up.

Last year, according to the agriculture ministry, Uganda produced an estimated 550,000 metric tonnes against a demand of nearly one millioin metric tonnes.

A survey among traders across markets revealed that the bulk of the Irish potatoes sold at the moment are imported from neighbouring countries.

Districts, such as Kisoro, Kabale, Mityana Mubende, Kapchorwa and Bukwo, among others, that used to produce Irish in large quantities cannot satisfy the growing demand.

James Mugume, a dealer in agricultural produce on Kafumbe Mukasa Road in Kisenyi, Kampala, says he imports Irish potatoes from Tanzania and Kenya.

Mugume, who is also a farmer, said the current locally grown Irish potatoes are small and of poor quality.

Patricia Mukasa, who runs Cia Crisps, says: “We used to get Irish potatoes specific for crisps from Kisoro. However, supply has stopped. We now order them from Rwanda and the cost has doubled.”

Experts attribute the decline in local production to poor seed varieties and bad farming practices, such as failure to plant on time.

The experts also say low productivity is attributed to unpredictable weather condition.

Poor practices

Samuel Balagadde, a food scientist and a consultant with NewMan Limited, that deals in crisps, is promoting production of Irish potatoes in Kisoro, Kabarole and Bunyabugabu districts.

He said a lot needs to be done to boost the production of Irish potatoes to meet the rising demand.

“Farmers have to embrace new seed varieties that are already on the market as opposed to recycling the harvested ones with low productivity,” Balagadde says.

A general decline in soil fertility caused by over use, he explained, is another factor in dropping production.

Some farmers have low capacity to apply fertilisers and other inputs for better yield. Irish potatoes are attacked by diseases, such as leaf bright, that affect the production when not attended to in time.

“For Irish potatoes to give good yield, there must be a balance of sunshine and moderate rains. Prolonged rains and sunshine are enemies to Irish potato production,” Moses Serwanga, an Irish potato farmer in Kassanda district, says.

No seeds?

Dr Alex Barekye, the former head of Kachwekano Zonal Agricultural Research and Development, says the greatest challenge with Irish potatoes has been lack of a seed system.

For now, NARO’s focus is on development of a comprehensive potato seed system to stop farmers from recycling seeds.

Dr Barekye adds that through partnerships with organisations, such as International Potato Centre, it has helped NARO to come up with new varieties, disease diagnosis and promotion of technologies.

Also, in partnership with private Dutch companies, NARO has developed varieties suitable for processing in accordance with shape, taste and colour.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Download Vision Group Experience App

Follow Us

All Rights Reserved © Harvest Money 2023

error: Content is protected !!