Innovation in Seed Potato Systems in Eastern Africa P Gildemacher, 2012, 184 pages
The potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) has a high potential to raise smallholder income and improve food security in Eastern Africa. Improving the quality of seed potatoes can contribute to increasing its productivity.
Few seed potatoes are currently sourced from specialized multipliers, as farmers largely rely on farm-saved seed potatoes. This often makes economic sense in the absence of affordable high quality seed potatoes and limited market security. Seed potato system interventions need to address the quality of specially multiplied and farm-saved seed potatoes simultaneously.
Here it is shown that positive selection, the selection of healthy looking mother plants for the production of seed potatoes by ware potato farmers, can contribute to improving seed potato quality.
When looking back an essential success factor of the research trajectory was the researchers’ room to manoeuvre and immerse in partnerships with practitioners, while innovation was made the central objective, rather than research results. The experience shows that it is worthwhile to search for opportunities for incremental innovation and that these can be of a surprising simple nature. For an effective contribution to innovation the mandate of research needs to allow for the active engagement in training, communication and scaling-up.