Why settle for just a slice? Let’s go for the whole potato!

“The whole is greater than sum of its parts”; an expression attributed to the famous philosopher Aristotle. This aptly defines the concept of synergies and can equally be applied to the potato industry in Tanzania.

With a potential to provide more harvest in a given piece of land compared to its closer energy dense crops such as maize and rice, the potato crop stands a high chance on ensuring both food security and adaptation to the ever-changing climate. However, more combined efforts from the stakeholders are required to holistically address challenges in the sector and find sustainable solutions to achieve a transformation from production all the way to consumption.

Potato Conference Mbeya

For the past six years, the Netherlands and Tanzania have been working together to develop the potato sector in Tanzania, with positive results that have set the stage for further development.

On December 15th, 2022, the Agricultural department of the Netherlands Embassy in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Top sector, Dutch private sector and Wageningen University, organized a potato conference in Mbeya, Tanzania. The central theme of the conference was geared to co-creating smart solutions to an inclusive potato sector in Tanzania while seeking to bring together collaboration and partnerships among different actors along potato value chain.

potato conference in Mbeya 1

Knowledge is (Potato) Power

During panel discussions on how to create synergies and strengthen the sector, a few representatives highlighted a missing link in the development of the sector. They raised concerns about the lack of knowledge on market information, storage solutions, soil analyses and suitability. Additionally, they emphasized the need to conduct research based on climate change adaptation and collaborate with farmers and the private sector to respond to market needs and mobilize resources. The importance of awareness on the benefits of using quality seeds was also stressed, with all actors playing a role in developing the sector.

Despite the challenges, the conference also highlighted several drivers and opportunities for the sector. For example, markets for potatoes exist but are currently untapped, and there are good quality seeds and varieties available, but the main challenge is to access and utilize them effectively.

Potato conference in Mbeya 1

Speaking during the conference, Ambassador H.E. Wiebe de Boer emphasized the significance of the crop to socio-economic development of both the Netherlands and Tanzania and encouraged the public sector, private sector, academia, research, and non-government actors to work together to ensure that quality seeds, market information, and extension services are readily available to farmers. Furthermore, the potato subsector must take the effects of climate change seriously and innovate to increase efficiency in the use of land and other resources.

Let's go for the Whole Potato

Launching the potato documentary, potato variety catalogue and potato signal book

The conference also featured several remarkable events, including the premiere of a documentary about the Tanzanian potato sector. The documentary highlights the importance of collaborations between public and private sectors in developing the industry, and various potato stakeholders were interviewed for their opinions.

The launch of a potato variety catalogue was also announced, listing sixteen potato seed varieties for farmers and the market to use, with an emphasis on the importance of using certified seeds for efficiency.

Additionally, a practical guide to potato cultivation, called Potato Signal, was launched, with an emphasis on early pest and disease diagnosis for efficiency. Some copies of signal books were given to Mbeya and Njombe regional authorities on behalf of the district extension officers, SAGCOT, Mbeya University of Science and Technology (MUST), Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Sokoine University Graduates Cooperative (SUGECO), Arusha Technical College and Isowelo Farmers’ Cooperative.

Organization of the potato industry in Tanzania

To champion a structured way on coordination and communication for the potatoes stakeholders in Tanzania, the Potato Council of Tanzania (PCT) is in the process of being created. This council will establish a mechanism for the stakeholders to systematically engage in dialogues to advocate for a more sustainable potato sector in Tanzania.

It is expected that the council will comprise representatives from both the private sector and the government as well as the farmers another, which is a crucial step on accelerating synergies and collaboration in the Tanzania Potato Industry.

Let’s go for the whole potato!

More information

For more information about the potato signal book and how to order contact directly Roodbont via Potato Signals African Edition (9789087403553) | Roodbont Publishers . To request a copy of potato variety catalogue, send an email to TOSCI via Dorah Bivuluge maydorah@gmail.com

Useful links

The Embassy provides regular updates on developments in the agriculture sector. To receive the updates follow us on our twitter account  @NLAgriTanzania and subscribe to our newsletter by sending an email to  dar-lnv@minbuza.nl.