From 1 to 3 tons: How Certified Seed Transformed Rwandan Farmers’ Potato Harvest

From 1 to 3 tons: How Certified Seed Transformed Rwandan Farmers’ Potato Harvest

By Ambrose Aheisibwe (SDGC/A), Aloys Musabyisoni (RAB) and Joshua Okonya (ASARECA)

My name is Faustin Ntankazarimana, and I chair the Haguka Mudende Innovation Platform (IP) in Mudende, Rubavu district, Rwanda. In 2022, our platform faced challenges, with sporadic meetings and dwindling membership.  Members rarely met, and as a result, some had moved on to other ventures.

Mr. Ntankazarimana (Left), General Secretary, Mr. Theoneste Ndagizimana (middle) and Vice Chairperson Ms. Jeanette Tuyisenge (Right) of Haguka Mudende Innovation Platform

Renewed Support

Upon acknowledging the necessity for rejuvenation, officials from the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) and the Sustainable Development Goals Center For Africa (SDGC/A) reached out to revitalise and actively engaged with us to breathe new life into our Innovation Platform (IP). They encouraged us to recruit new members, especially youth and women, and ensure representation from across all facets of the potato value chain. This included engaging producers, input suppliers, transporters, buyers, financial institutions, researchers, extension workers and seed multipliers. While recruiting all these stakeholders proved challenging, the IP has undergone significant transformation and now fosters more transparent and responsible practices among its members.

Members of Haguka Mudende Innovation Platform in Rubavu district, Rwanda

Capacity Building and New Opportunities

Recognizing the crucial role of IP leadership and the need to embrace best practices of a commodity-based IP, I requested training sessions for our members. RAB and SDGC/A generously provided quarterly sessions on various topics, including group dynamics and business plan development since they are engaged in farming potato as a business. Furthermore,  they introduced us to four new disease-resistant potato varieties alongside two well-established ones. This concerted effort aimed to equip our members with the knowledge and tools necessary to enhance their agricultural practices and contribute to the sustainable growth of our potato production initiatives.

One of the training sessions for members of Haguka Mudende IP in Rubavu, Rwanda.




















Leading by Example

To build trust within our community, I volunteered to be one of the initial recipients of high-quality potato seed from RAB. Planting these seeds on a 20×100 meter plot resulted in an impressive yield of 2,730kg, compared to less than 1 tonne from previous farm-saved seeds riddled with diseases. The stark difference between our plot and a control plot using farm-saved seed convinced other members of the benefits of certified seed. Now, other members of our community have eagerly followed suit, requesting more high-quality seeds from the Seed Potato Fund (SPF) and RAB.

A bountiful harvest of potatoes from the initial harvest (season 2 of 2023).















A Lucrative Future

Seeing the economic potential presented by certified seed production, some IP members are considering investing in this venture. The success witnessed through the use of certified seed potatoes has highlighted the potential for increased profitability and sustainability in potato production. As a result, an increasing number of IP members are showing keen interest in delving into and harnessing the benefits offered by certified seed production, indicating a promising shift towards adopting more lucrative and resilient agricultural practices within our community.

Project Background

This remarkable achievement is attributed to the “Technology Transfer through Innovative Seed and Ware Potato Production Systems: Enhancing Smallholder Farmers’ capacity for Profitable and sustainable potato production project,” an AIRTEA Third-Party project. Funded by the European Union (EU) through the ACP Innovation Fund, it operates under the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS).

This project, implemented in Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda under the coordination of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), and the East African Farmers Federation (EAFF).

It aims to strengthen partnerships between stakeholders using innovation platforms as a model. The Mudende Haguka IP is among 10 platforms benefiting from this initiative.