Rwandan smallholder growers farming Irish Potatoes in the Northern and Western regions have requested the government to extend subsidies on agro-chemicals and seeds. Rwanda produced 897,000 tonnes of Irish Potatoes in 2019 and 916,000 tonnes in 2018. This makes the crop the third most popular food crop produced in the country.
Growers say that the required investment to reach such production is increasingly becoming costly. Growers also say that considering the costly investment, some growers end up using low quality inputs and agro-chemicals leading them to losses.
“Some growers use little quantity of agro-inputs compared to the needed quantity. If you do not afford quality seeds that are currently expensive, you end up using substandard input which affects productivity. Due to financial issues, one can get seeds but lack fertilizers. You can get both but if you do not use other necessary inputs during the rainy season or to deal with pests, it could leave you with losses,” one potato grower said.
Other growers sell their land to potential growers because they have no financial means to grow potatoes.
Explaining the required investment cost, Jean Marie Vianney Nteziyaremye who is the President of KOAGIRUGA- Irish potato growers’ cooperative in Kabatwa sector of Nyabihu District cited an example of 40 metres by 50 metres tillable land. Breaking down the investment cost figures, he said it requires to pay Rwf100, 000 to lease 40 metres by 50 metres tillable land for growing Irish Potato per one season.
[ Rwf100 = €0,087 ]