The absence of an improved potato seed supply system is one of the critical constraints identified in the potato value chain in Amhara. AgroBIG implementation districts in particular are constrained by the unavailability of clean and healthy potato seed at affordable prices.
Since its inception, AgroBIG has supported key players in the region’s seed supply system. The Programme has strengthened potato seed multiplication and marketing cooperatives and organized youth engaged in seed multiplication into groups. These actors have been linked to commercial seed producers via training events, field days, exposure visits and financial support.
The potato seed multiplication and marketing cooperatives established during AgroBIG phase I in the highlands of North Mecha district are functioning and continue their engagement in the potato seed business. During Phase II, improved potato seed multiplication has been initiated in Fogera, Dera and South Achefer districts by seed cooperatives and youth groups, and continues in North Mecha. The work is done in cooperation with Adet Agricultural Research Center and the quarantine authorities to get disease-free potato seed to the market.
With the support of AgroBIG, Adet Center doubled the production capacity of their mini tuber potato seeds from 25,000 to 100,000 tubers per annum. Adet supplies mini tubers to the seed multiplication groups and cooperatives.
The Quarantine Agency also supports the producers from the field to post-harvest levels. At the field-level, an inspector checks the crop rotation, origin of the seed and occurrence of pest and disease infestation. The Quarantine Agency eventually carry out laboratory checks to assess germination of the harvest, and provide certificates to farmers to enable them to sell their crop as seed. During the first phase, AgroBIG has supported the Quarantine Agency with lab equipment and facilitation of field inspections, experience sharing and field days.
The district- and ward-level agriculture experts closely assist seed multiplication groups to apply Good Agricultural Practices. AgroBIG has supported the seed cooperatives to construct storage facilities, and once their harvest is proven suitable for seed by the Quarantine Agency, the district agriculture office facilitates the marketing of the yield further to seed and ware potato producers.
Seed is the cornerstone of agricultural production. Healthy seeds enable viable plant growth and good yield. Farmers have benefited from the availability of disease-free seed potato, improved production and market linkages, as the demand for potato is on the increase and prices have increased too.