Participatory Improved Potato Technology Promotion: The Case of Smallholder Farmers in North, West and Southwestern Highlands of Ethiopia
Utilization of healthy planting material is a key factor to improve potato yields to reduce the dissemination of diseases and pests. Quality seed is one of the major bottlenecks hindering the production and productivity of potato in major potato growing regions of the country. Therefore, participatory on-farm seed production and improved potato technologies promotion have been carried out during the year 2014-2016 at five districts, Jeldu, Dendi, Wolmera Degem and Kersana Malima of central Ethiopia. To produce quality potato seed various rapid multiplication techniques were used. Thus, improved potato technologies were demonstrated using different methodologies such as the farmers’ field schools, the farmers' research group and field days. To supply clean tubers about 138,886 high-quality mini-tubers of improved varieties of Belete, Gudanie, Jalenie and Awash were produced. Moreover, a total of 257.08 tons of seed tubers of 15 released potato varieties were produced and disseminated in different parts of the country for research and developments. The participant farmers produce 442.9 tons of relatively clean seed tubers and sold to different parts of the country. During, this activity positive selection technique was demonstrated and participant farmers applied the techniques that helped them to improve the yield and quality of seed potato. Farmers obtained a 40% yield increase and a 33% vigour improvement when positive selection techniques were applied. Training on improved potato production and postharvest handling technologies have also been given for farmers, development agents, agricultural experts and home agents. Therefore, decentralized quality seed production reduces the movement of dangerous diseases like bacterial wilt and viruses from invading areas with high potential for seed production due to purchase of seed only from within one’s same region.
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