Establishing financially sustainable local seed supply systems in Ethiopia

The potato is the largest arable crop cultivated in Ethiopia covering 181,000 ha of land annually. Only 1.3% of the total seed potato is sold/transacted as certified seed fulfilling the Ethiopia Agricultural Authority’s standard. With the seed rate of 2 tons/ha per ha, 362,000 tonnes of certified seeds would be needed to meet demand.

The low national yield is due to several production problems besides lacking quality seed. Potato cultivation dominates in the highlands where there is a lack of irrigation watering schemes and farm size is small, usually less than 2 hectares per family. The unavailability of certified seed, suboptimal agronomic practices, along with a heavy late blight pressure summarize the major constraints limiting tuber yields in Ethiopia.

Public and private partners involved in addressing the sustainable production of seed in quantity with quality

Picture 1. mini tuber production at Desse tissue culture center

SNV Netherlands Development Organization is an international NGO working in more than 35 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It has worked in Ethiopia since 1974. Horti-LIFE is an SNV project funded by the Dutch Embassy that focuses on improving the access of smallholders to high-quality inputs and to knowledge and skills. At the core of the program are Farmers’ Field Schools (FFSs) in which smallholders learn how to make optimal use of improved seeds and other inputs. This is complemented by strengthening input suppliers, seed systems, nurseries and banks. One specific objective of SNV is to improve the seed potato supply chain. Because of the intensity of the problem, SNV brought different partners on board to improve the seed potato shortage in Ethiopia. Those partners include:

Ministry of Agriculture of Ethiopia (MoA) is our main national partner together with the Ethiopia Agricultural Authority. In general, the project is implemented with the Development Agent (DA) hired by the MoA found in villages where the project is operating.

Irish Potato Research and Development Association (APReDA) is an umbrella organization under which all the activities related to potatoes are conducted. It influences the policymakers and the members to create an enabling environment for the potato sector.

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