Thursday, May 30, 2024
+256 414 234 143 kaysmash@kaysmash.com
LocalNews

Uganda Marks the International Potato Day 2024 today

The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze

Kampala|Today Uganda 30th May, 2024 – Uganda has joined the rest of the world in commemorating the first-ever International Day of Potato, to raise awareness about the nutritional and economic value of potatoes across the world.

In December 2023, the United Nations General Assembly designated May 30th as the International Potato Day, recognizing the potato’s significant role in addressing food security and nutrition challenges. The day is an opportunity to highlight the importance of the potato crop, which ranks among the top five staple food items used throughout the world.

The inaugural commemoration has been held under the theme: “Harvesting Diversity, Feeding Hope”. The theme emphasizes the abundance of options available with over 5,000 improved varieties of the crop. These varieties cater to diverse production systems, culinary preferences, and industrial applications. This diversity is particularly crucial in today’s turbulent times, as many agri-food systems face threats worldwide.

Speaking at  Media Centre in Kampala, the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, who was represented by the Commissioner Crops Resources and Certification, Dr. Paul Mwambu, noted that in Uganda, the cultivation of potatoes is central to the nation’s agricultural sector and the economy, with an annual production of approximately 1.8 million metric tons. He revealed that Uganda exports 55,412 metric tons of potato to neighbouring countries against 30,501 metric tons imported.

He revealed that the Government of Uganda, through the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), in partnership with other key stakeholders, especially the International Potato Centre (CIP), has developed a number of sweetpotato and potato varieties that are tolerant and resistant to pests and diseases, are high yielding and nutritious and suitable for agro processing.

The Minister highlighted sweetpotato as the third most crucial crop in Uganda, following cassava and bananas, and notably emphasized its significance as the primary crop in the vicinity of Lake Victoria. He underscored their high nutritional value and their pivotal role as a dependable food source for both rural and urban populations, particularly during periods of scarcity or pre-harvest.

Potato farming also plays a vital role in Uganda, with the nation ranking as the third largest potato producer in East Africa. The annual output is estimated at 162,151 metric tons, positioning Uganda to cater to the increasing demand for processed potato products like French fries in the region.

However, the full potential of potatoes remains untapped due to the use of traditional varieties and limited value addition. Other challenges include; limited knowledge, inaccessibility to inputs, and low production and productivity, coupled with inadequate postharvest and processing technologies.

The government has undertaken initiatives to elevate the quality of potatoes, with a focus on enhancing the capabilities of seed producers, improving storage facilities, and refining marketing strategies to mitigate market price volatility.

At the same press conference, the Minister revealed that Uganda will be hosting the 13th African Potato Association’s (APA) Conference next year between May 25th and 30th. Uganda is currently holding duo leadership for the APA as President and Vice President. The theme for the conference to be held in Kampala is; “Fostering Climate Smart Cropping Systems for Sustainable Potato and Sweet Potato Value Chains”.

 

 

Derek Kanalo
the authorDerek Kanalo
News Reporter/ Editor
Am a professionally trained and well skilled media personality. Accuracy is part of my top priority as a journalist.