The Power of the Potato

Vita recognises a new approach is required that enables development partners to create equitable and sustainable potato value chains if the potential of potatoes as a food crop in Africa is to be realised.

To this end, we have come together with Ireland and, indeed, the world’s leading potato experts to develop innovative potato seed, storage, and cooperative programmes that have the potential to solve international development issues. Find out more about the Irish Potato Coalition, our work with Teagasc, Keogh’s Farms and CIP below.

Irish Potato Coalition

Vita acts as the driver to coordinate a seven country Potato Coalition covering Ethiopia, Malawi, Eritrea, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Kenya. The Coalition involves Irish and international NGOs together with CIP and various science and business partners. This is a very ambitious venture that will enable rapid knowledge sharing and lessons learned and will develop a common framework for all partners.

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Bigger yields and Better Crops: Vita’s Potato Programme Transforms Bihran’s Livelihood in South Gonder, Ethiopia

In Amhara State in the South Gonder Zone of Ethiopia, Irish Aid and Action on Poverty are supporting Vita in delivering our LEARN Programme. One aspect of this far-reaching, life-transforming project, is our potato seed multiplication initiatives that aim to provide rural and struggling farmers with better-quality seed, climate-smart agronomy training, storage facilities and new technologies, and a route to viable markets where they can sell their seeds and crops.

This programme is enabling communities to build resilience to climate change and establish secure, sustainable, and thriving livelihoods that lift families out of poverty. Birhan Tilaye is one farmer to reap these benefits from his work with Vita.

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Potato Seed Projects, Supported by Irish Aid and Action on Poverty, Transform Rural Livelihoods in Southern Ethiopia

Layhugni Berihun is 36 and lives with her husband and five children in the Ata kebele of the Farta district in South Gonder, Ethiopia. She is, like many people in the region, a potato farmer. With two sons and three daughters to feed and clothe, Layhugni relies on her livelihood to keep her family healthy and happy. Yet this was becoming increasingly harder as poor seed meant that Layhugni’s yields were abysmally low – a fact that was only worsened by the traditional agronomy practices that no longer reflected changing environmental conditions.

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The Power of the Potato – Tozene’s Story

Tozene Nada was born in the mountains of the Great Rift Valley in southern Ethiopia. Despite the steep and hilly countryside and its characteristic high altitudes, Tozene’s homeland was abundant and fertile. However, the strains of having to support, feed, and nourish an ever-growing population began to take its toll on this once bountiful land, resulting in overworked soil and smaller yields for farmers like Tozene. With the passing of her father-in-law and her husband forced to migrate to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to support their family, Tozene took over the running of the two–hectare family farm, alone.

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