Potato production in Tanzania is one sector which happens to be in serious danger.
The farming sub-sector is being threatened by the ongoing effects of climate change, including drought, increasing temperatures, pests and diseases as well as soil degradation.
According to research conducted by the Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project, Potatoes may soon become scarce.
The fact Tanzania is Africa’s 6th largest producer of potato, with the crop supporting more than half a million farmers, the threats are spelling doom to the agriculture sector.
Problems affecting potato growers pose a significant threat to the industries especially as the crop stands among the important ten staple crops produced in Tanzania with massive potential as food and income.
“Our climate risk assessments depict that 12.3 percent of potato growing areas in Tanzania are projected not to be suitable for farming by 2050.”
That is according to CRAFT project manager in Tanzania, Menno Keizer.
Keizer added that areas such as Kagera and Rukwa which are currently among the key potato producing centers are projected to become less suitable.
He added that, as the population in Tanzania continues to grow at approximately 3 percent annually, potato growers, most of whom are smallholder farmers, need to find ways of producing food sustainably.
The expert revealed that CRAFT was planning to organize a two –day climate –smart policy dialogue to discuss policy related aspects in the potato sector as well as how climate change will impact the sector and the adoption measures needed to combat the impact of climate change.
“The envisaged dialogue will bring key national level, public and private player sector stakeholders in the climate and the potato sector in Tanzania and other East African countries.”
“We want to provide a forum for potato actors to share experiences with stakeholder and policymakers at the national level with a goal of addressing identified policy barriers in the potato value chain,” Menno expressed.
The Country Director of SNV –The Netherlands Development Organization- Michael M’ Grath, reveals that CRAFT is supporting over 8,800 smallholder farmers in the potato value chain in Tanzania.
They assist in evidence-based climate adaptation and mitigation such as use of drought and disease tolerant potato varieties, improved farming practices and off-season irrigation production.
“The project also contributed over Euro 320, 000 in the three Agri-SME in the potato value chain, notably Sai-Energy and Logistics Company, East Africa Fruit Company and Isowelu AMCOS Cooperative as a catalyst to stimulate them to invest in climate smart interventions which they have leveraged to generate over Euro 415, 000 as of September 2022,” he communicated.Michael M’ Grath
Grath adds that the initiative was also supporting at least 61,000 smallholder farmers in sorghum, common beans, and sunflower value chain.
“These strategies have enabled smallholder farmers to become resilient and Agri-SME’s increase their productivity, ensuring produce potatoes without disruptions throughout the year.
CRAFT is a five –year project being implemented in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The project is implemented by a consortium consisting of SNV (lead partner), Wageningen University and Environmental Research (WUR and WEnR), the CGIAR research programme on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Agriterra and Rabo Partnership, and the project is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS).