As we all know the world is facing difficult moments caused by Covid19. To cope with this situation, Agriterra through its peer to peer approach is still advising potato cooperatives in Rwanda using skyping technology. For example, we have started exchanging good agriculture practices for Irish potato production especially on seed potato multiplication together with Dutch seed potato grower Paul Cryns (member of Agrico). Paul Cryns was supported by his wife Sandra and together they shared their expertise. This was most welcomed by all potato Agriterra clients in Rwanda as they are still able to access the proper agronomic practices for growing potatoes.
It is great opportunity to share the very exciting results achieved on potato yields obtained per ha during last season. In Rwanda most of the farmers are getting 9 to 20 MT/ha yields of potatoes. However, within farmer potato cooperatives supported by Agriterra the field samples on their demo-plots are showing the estimated yields of 25 to 40 MT/ha. This shows the significant difference of traditional farming compared to the modern Agriculture. Dutch expertise has started changing the situation gradually since 2017 up to now in 2020.
Since 2017, Agriterra has embarked in supporting 10 cooperatives growers of Irish potato in Rwanda through the project CODEPO (Cooperative Development in Irish Potato). Currently the number of cooperatives has increased to 15 cooperatives. The project aims at “Empowering farmers’ organizations” to be able to provide quality services to their members in order to support them to improve their livelihoods and get out of poverty. In addition to that Agriterra is supporting SPF-Ikigega (Seed Potato Fund) in further developing their seed potato business, including four member cooperatives.
Dukomezubuzima is an agricultural cooperative located in Musanze district with 120 members. 37% among of them have physical disability. Its main activity is based on Irish potato production and seed multiplication in collaboration of different patterners. They have planted on the lines by using Dutch system (rows) and more tubers.
Farmer to famer field learning between Dumezubuzima members and Dutch expert Paul Cryns
After two weeks the COVID-19 lockdown period started. It was not easy to continue the daily activities. The solution was technology. Via Skype there was contact between cooperative members, employees, Agriterra team and Paul Cryns, agripool expert from the Netherlands.
In general, the demo plot has grown well. On 25 May2020 the Agriterra team asked to take the sample randomly in 3 sides around the field and check if it was real time for dehaulming. They took a sample and sorted the potatoes by size, as you see on the picture bellow:
Dukomezubuzima samples (small, middle and big) of Irish potatoes
The cooperative members did some experiments with different sizes of potatoes and different sizes between two lines. Paul Cryns supported them each time via Skype.
The first exercise on the field
Coaching through Skype
The second exercise on the field
The Chairperson of TWAMBAZIMANA cooperative said: “We are proud of being client of Agriterra, because the more we learn the better the results achieved. We cannot imagine our cooperative reached around 40 MT/ha comparing to 22 MT/ha we used to get as farmer facilitators in Burera District. It is our first experience of being assisted and exchanging good agriculture practices through Skyping! We are ready to share this skill to other farmers.”