Tackling Food Security and Income Generation through Participatory Potato Seed Production in Central Highlands of Ethiopia

Abebe C. Degebasa


Quality seed is one of the basic problems affecting the production and productivity of potato in Ethiopia and as whole in SSA. Utilization of healthy planting material is a key factor to improve potato yields and to reduce the dissemination of pests and diseases. Decentralized, community-based seed production schemes have been established in central highlands of Ethiopia. Lack of high yielding varieties with its recommended agronomic practices also contribute significant role in food security of one country. Postharvest handling and transportation also can put considerable influence on potato production and utilizations. Therefore, technology promotions were carried out from 2013 - 2015 in three districts (Welmera, Adea-Bera and Ejere) of West shewa of Ethiopia with the objectives of creating awareness and scale-up of improved potato production and utilization technologies. This work was done by the Potato Improvement Research Program, and Research and Extension Division of Holetta Research Center (HRC) in collaboration with extension staffs of each district. Farmers’ selection was made ahead of land selection, provide training, seed distribution and planting was carried out for demonstrating potato production technologies. In three years, a total of 899 farmers and 40 agricultural experts were trained and 27.7, 9 and 5.5 tonnes of quality seeds of Gudanie, Jalenie and Belete potato varieties, respectively were supplied and cover 21.1 hectares with their recommended agronomic packages. The farmers were grouped in to 16 in Wolmera, 7 Adea-Berga and 11 Ejere FFS groups. Farmer groups produced more than 434 tons of quality seed relatively from improved varieties released from research center and constructed 8 diffused light stores (DLS) to store tuber seeds they own per year. In addition, information dissemination was also made as an important component of the program to raise awareness for large numbers of potato growers through farmers' field days, pamphlets, and mass media. Each year about three field days were organized and more than 1500 pamphlets were distributed for large number of farmers invited from neighboring districts and Kebeles that would help fast adoption of the technologies. With the use of the improved varieties and appropriate seed production techniques, members of the seed producer cooperatives obtained yields of 26 - 34 t ha-1 while the national average yield is only 8 t ha-1. Therefore, the farmers in the intervention area witnessed that they are food secured during the hunger months of August to October when other cereal crops were mostly immature for consumption and also got additional income from potato production to send their children to school. It is one of the breakthroughs to avail improved technologies for the community and also improve their food security through potato technology disseminations.

Keywords: Potato, food security, Participatory seed production, FFS, income generation

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3208 ISSN (Online)2225-093X

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