Tanzania, Netherlands to boost potato production

Mbeya Region Commissioner Mr Juma Homera has said that the government will continue to work with the Dutch government to facilitate the increase in potato production in the country.

The RC made the remarks here at the weekend while gracing the conference that apart from discussing the current state of the potato sector and setting strategies to increase the production of the crop also launched potato cultivation guide publications for farmers.

Organised by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Tanzania in partnership with the Wageningen University and Research, the conference brought together various agricultural experts, seed production experts, farmers, policymakers, members of the business community and other government leaders.

Participants comprehensively debated on what needs to be done to transform the potato sector in a public-private setup, the current state of affairs of the potato sector in Tanzania as well as the best practice and use of quality seed and technologies the production could double, and eventually open a full potential.

Tanzania and the Netherlands have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at developing the potato sector. Through this MoU, the two countries have worked together in the registration of quality seed potatoes.

Dutch Ambassador in Tanzania Wiebe de Boer said the Netherlands was working hard to empower Tanzanian farmers so they can turn their production of potato products into commercial undertakings.

“For the Netherlands potato is a very important crop. Volumes of seed potatoes that are traded within Europe and around the world can find their roots back to the Netherlands.

“In the Netherlands, potato is among the key contributors to the economy. We have seen how farmers lives have improved through the use of quality seeds, and improved yield which results to good business,” said Ambassador Wiebe de Boer.

He added that Tanzania has huge potential with massive land where potatoes could be grown almost everywhere. Location-wise, the country is strategically positioned with the potential to be the future potato hub within the region.

“Knowledge is power. The Netherlands would like to share its knowledge and expertise with Tanzanian farmers in the journey of optimizing potato production. The launched potato signals book provides insights, knowledge and practical guide to the farmers” added, Ambassador, Wiebe de Boer.

The launched book is very unique as it does not follow a ready-made recipe but encourages farmers to observe signals sent out by the crop and use this visual information for crop management. Indeed, when put to use the book will be a game changer for the farmers.

With access to agronomic practical information, farmers will increase efficiency and have sustainable potato production. Finally, good yield will be achieved.

The efforts resulted in a total of 16 potato seed varieties listed in Tanzania Official Seed Certification (TOSCI) catalogue. The Netherlands has supported TOSCI to develop the first potato variety catalogue which will be launched today.

The potato variety aims to communicating to farmers and other stakeholders on the released potato variety, its description and on the availability of seed potatoes varieties in order to improve the accessibility of quality seed potatoes.

These varieties also provide possibilities to increase yields tremendously if good agronomic practices are followed and help the sector to come out with well informed decisions.

Sector players displayed products and services for others to look at. This session aimed at creating awareness on where to access services and products, knowledge for sector development. Finally, the sector players established contacts.

Exhibitors included SNV, Isowelo, HZPC, Agrittera, East Africa Fruits, TOSCI,TARI, Kilimo trust, MATI-Uyole, Mbeya University of Science and Technology (MUST), Hanse Agrostore International, Yara, Dew limited and Mkombozi Agribusiness.

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