Access to improved seed boosts ware potato productivity and production


GRAD, a five-year USAID-funded project, implemented by five consortia members, is working with Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) households in potato seed multiplication to increase access to improved varieties; improve production; quality of ware potato and farmers' income.

In Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) areas nearly eight million people receive regular cash or food support from the government during the dry season. Although the emergency relief succeeded in saving the lives in millions of people in Ethiopia, the Programme has not fully protected households and livelihoods and assets. And, therefore the government has set up PSNP programme to build households assets and resilience. SNV under the GRAD project is piloting innovative models which when well-developed can be scaled up by Household Asset Building Programme (HABP).  GRAD supports PSNP households in 16 woredas (district) in four regions: Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and SNNP.

The role of SNV within the consortium is to provide technical assistance on value chain development and promote the demand-oriented agricultural extension service. In the development of Potato value chain, a crop important for household consumption and income generation, SNV supports households to access quality inputs and sustainable output markets. This support contributed a lot in helping households to improve productivity and production as well as access markets for improved incomes so that households graduate from the PSNP programme after building assets.

“Lack of access to improved potato seed, application of poor agronomic and postharvest practices affected the quality and productivity of ware potato produced by PSNP households which in turn became a huge barrier for creating sustainable market linkage to earn adequate income from the production and marketing of ware potato thereby graduate from the PSNP programme” said Rutta Firdissa, Horticulture Value Chain Advisor, SNV in Ethiopia.

Based on the findings of the value chain study in 2012, SNV initiated the idea of establishing potato seed multiplication in four woredas to increase access for improved potato seeds. In collaboration with Implementing Partners (IPs), SNV selected 70 model farmers in Hawassa zuria, Laigaint, Maichew and Shalla woredas and engaged them in potato seed multiplication.

“These model farmers received three newly released varieties of improved potato seeds Jalene, Gudene and Belete from agricultural research centres; technical support on proper agronomic practice and on establishment of Defused Light Storages (DLS) to ensure that quality seed is produced and sold to GRAD households,” explained Rutta.

This intervention helped PSNP households to obtain 1426 quintals of improved potato seeds from the four woredas: Shalla (268), Hawassa zuria (225), Maichew (130) and Laigaint (803). This created a good opportunity for 1200 PSNP households to get, on average, a quintal of improved potato seed.

This helped the PSNP households in the target woredas to produce, on average, 290 quintals of ware potato per hectare which is 72% greater than the national average yield of potato, 80 quintals per hectare. This improvement in product quality and increase in production has attracted big potato buyers, traders and processing companies.

The households consumed 50% of their produce while selling the remaining ware potato thus earned 4,278,000 ETB. One of the buyers, Balemlay Special Injera and Food Flour Manufacturing Industry, Bahir Dar based private company, attracted by the improved qualities of the potato has bought 500 quintals of ware potato with 91,000 ETB from 93 potato Producers in Laigaint woreda. 

“The potato has big size, good colour and dry matter which make it suitable for making flour for bread, injera and other food stuffs” said Birhanu Aragaw, Owner, Balemlay Special Injera and Food Flour Manufacturing Industry.

The Project will promote further scale up and expansion of seed multiplication intervention in similar and additional woredas in the implementation regions through one of government programme HABP (Household Asset Building Programme) and NGOs engaged in the potato sector development to increase GRAD households’ access to quality potato seed. These will significantly contribute to ensuring reliable quality seed supplies engaging more farmers in potato value chain and create sustainable market linkages.  

GRAD is working in potato, livestock, honey, pulse and malt barley value chains to increase the income of GRAD households to graduate from PSNP.

GRAD aims to contribute to the sustainable graduation of 50,000 chronically food-insecure households by increasing their income by 365 USD per year. It is implemented by consortia members CARE, ORDA, REST and CRS.