However, in Eastern Kenya, Cecinta Nduru has seen an opportunity to address the seed problem in her area. A beneficiary who has worked closely with CIP in partnership with Farm Input Promotions (FIPs) Africa, Cecinta has abandoned ware potato production to focus on the more lucrative seed provision business.
For the first 2019 potato planting season, demand for her seed was so high that she had to restrict purchase to only 50kg per customer to ensure all her clients plant her clean seed.
Cecinta has also embraced a new technology for seed production introduced by CIP in Kenya in 2017. This entails the production and use of rooted apical cuttings as starter material for seed production as opposed to certified seed.
Cuttings are produced from tissue culture plantlets in the screen house, rather than minitubers, and after rooting, are planted in the field. Each cutting produces 7 to 10, and up to 15+ tubers which are multiplied a further season or two, then the harvest is used and/or sold as seed.
Cecinta has established a satellite apical cuttings nursery for seed potato production on her farm. She has so far sold 4,000 of the 6,000 cuttings she produced in her first commercial cycle for a total cost of KES 40,000 (USD 400) and is still producing more to sell during this current season.
Vitamin A deficiency causes blindness, limits growth, weakens immunity, and increases mortality. Afflicting over 140 million preschool children in 118 countries and more than seven million pregnant women, it is the leading cause of child blindness in developing countries. By 2019, CIP and partners had developed and disseminated dozens of biofortified, vitamin A-rich orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) varieties in Africa and Asia, helping to raise the nutritional status and incomes of more than five million households.
Biofortification has focused on increasing the pro-vitamin A content through conventional breeding, boosting the availability of vitamin A for farm families and consumers. By promoting OFSP nutrition education at the community level, CIP-led work has made it a cost-effective and sustainable source of vitamin A for vulnerable populations, especially women and young children.
"Usually in a household in a village, whatever the children like the mother will like, but for the taste of the male farmers in Africa, it has to have high dry matter content and have productivity. The children like the sweetpotato that is a little soft. Men like what is dry. We have all their tastes in mind. Maria Andrade, Senior Sweetpotato Breeder at CIP.