A total of 38 participants coming from five countries took part in the workshop “optimising value chains – potatoes”, held in Hassan, Karnataka, India, from 10-15 July 2017. Organised by the German Agricultural Society (DLG) together with “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit” (GIZ), the event was also attended by representatives from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the International Potato Centre (CIP) India, Indian research institutions as well as implementing partners such as AFC/ETC consultants and Welthungerhilfe.
This workshop is part of the global programme “Green Innovation Centres in the Agriculture and Food sector” of the One World No Hunger initiative run by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). DLG acts as a strategic partner on behalf of the Green Innovation Centres and co-ordinates the working group potato. The group itself consists of 23 members from eight countries.
Training and visits to farms and production units
At the workshop in India, the participants from Tunisia, Kenya, India, the Netherlands and Germany gained insights into the entire value chain. Starting with the application of aeroponics in Indian seed production, a cold storage for seed potatoes, farmers and innovation farms were visited. The Indian farmers discussed their innovations for increasing productivity in the field with the international group of experts. On the innovation farms, they had tested six new seed varieties two of which are significantly appropriate for the local agricultural and climate conditions. Other tests with innovations are still running.
After having looked at potato production, the group visited a potato processing unit, a chips processing and a cold storage facility. They also talked to a farmer producer company. The farmer producer companies form legal entities that are registered under the Registrar of Companies at the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, an arrangement that enables the farmers to jointly negotiate cheaper prices for inputs (e.g. fertiliser, seed potatoes) and increase bargaining power vis-à-vis middlemen. The next steps for the farmer producer company are to establish a cold storage facility and a warehouse.
The University of Wageningen (the Netherlands) trained the group in theory and practice of efficient late blight management for two days. Late blight (Phytophthora infestans) is a fungicidal disease which causes harvest losses in the countries represented of 40 to 60 per cent each year on average. Once it has broken out, this airborne disease cannot be treated, although its progress is stoppable. Beside getting to know the living conditions of the fungus, participants learnt how to choose the right spraying nozzles and spraying positions and how to distinguish between good and less effective sprayers.
The group appreciated the exchange between the countries and discussed commonalities and differences in the potato sector
Activities of the international working group potato, co-ordinated by DLG
The international working group potato concentrates on the exchange of innovations along the entire value chain: access to seed varieties, production aspects (irrigation, fertilisation, mechanisation, plant protection and diseases control), training of farmers, business models for marketing and farmers’ organisations.
Moreover, the group has shared the Farmer Business School (FBS) approach, which is in use in Nigeria and has already been adopted in Mali, while Cameroon is about to use it. At the FBS, farmers get trained in entrepreneurial modules and in good agricultural practices. In addition, the Kenyan team has developed business models which are shared with the group.
In addition to knowledge transfer on good agricultural practices and lessons learnt as well as the development of training material, the working group is compiling a monograph of the seven countries and establishing an online communication platform.
This year, working group meetings were run in India in July and are to take place in Kenya in November 2017. The DLG is responsible for co-operation on subject issues and moderating the working group.
Author: Daniela Böhm, Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft (DLG), Frankfurt, Germany
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