Strengthening linkages between small actors and buyers in
the Roots and Tubers sector in Africa


In Rwanda, the project is focusing on the Irish potato value chain. Rwanda is the 6th largest producer of potatoes in Africa, which is significant given the relative land size of the country. Potato is cultivated across the country; however four districts in the north-west (Rubavu, Musanze, Nyabihu and Burera) are responsible for most of the production. Irish potato is one of the most important crops in Rwanda and is one of the government’s six priority crops falling under the Crop Intensification Program (CIP). The country plans to increase production significantly through expanding area under production and increasing yield per hectare (productivity).

The competitiveness of the chain is challenged by the weak and informal seed system as well as a lack of storage capacity in production zones and weak coordination between farmer groups and potential buyers.

A project inception workshop was carried out in Kigali that brought together key stakeholders in the Irish potato value chain and set the course the project’s major activities in the country. Participants included senior managers from Government institutions, development partners, research institutes, NGOs, the private sector, financial institutions and farmer organizations.

The project is supporting policymakers and institutions important to the sector. There is regular cross-border trade in both ware and seed potatoes with Uganda, DR Congo, Burundi and Tanzania, making a regional approach to policy alignment key for the development of the sector in Rwanda.

  • Working to align national and regional strategies with the development of improved regional market integration for the potato sector. This is particularly needed with regard to seed system policies and trade policies.

The project is focusing on developing inclusive business models throughout the potato value chain:

  • Conducting a diagnostic mapping of the biggest buyers of fresh and processed Irish potatoes. Appraising business models between buyers and suppliers, including business organizational structure, procurement, operations and finance, logistics mechanisms, marketing and sales, etc.
  • Identifying the FOs, SMEs and intermediary traders supplying the buyers. Capacity building for producer organizations and SMEs in value addition and business management.
  • Determining the feasibility for investment in storage capacity of ware and seed potatoes.
  • Reinforcing the work of the Rwanda Cooperative Agency on developing contract farming operations for cooperatives, financial service providers and traders.
  • Agribusiness management training for farmer organizations and SMEs in the major potato production zones.

Sustainable market-led production intensification is a major area of the project.

  • Implementing a Farmer Field School (FFS) programme in collaboration with the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) and government extension services focused on positive selection techniques, seed storage and testing fertilizer recommendations.

The project is working to strengthen access to financial services and climate change risk management tools.

  • Supporting the relevant Rwandan government agencies to analyse the impacts of climate variability on production and price fluctuations of potato.
  • Organizing forums between financial institutions, insurance providers and SMEs for a better mutual understanding of the sector’s risks and needs.