Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — The East African Community (EAC) has handed over laboratory equipment to member states of the regional bloc as part of a project aimed at improving regional trade in seed potatoes in eastern Africa, the EAC said in statement on Tuesday.
The statement said the project is aimed at providing framework conditions for the development of trade in seed potatoes through support to development of regional strategies and action plans as well as development and harmonization of regional seed potato standards.
Peter Mathuki, the EAC secretary general, said the laboratory equipment is expected to be a game changer in the EAC member states’ seed potato trade, especially in strengthening the technical and implementation capacity of staff and laboratories to effectively operationalize required sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures to facilitate seed potato trade in the region.
Mathuki said the potato sub-sector is one of the priority value chains in the region and is ranked among the top 10 strategic staple crops for food and income security in the EAC member states of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
Mathuki added that low productivity and limited use of quality seed potato by less than 4 percent of farmers in the EAC region has remained key bottlenecks despite initiatives aimed at improving variety development and introduction, seed production and trade within the region.
“With this laboratory equipment, the region is expected to increase production, availability, efficiency and reliability of certified and assured seed potato for production and trade in the region,” said Mathuki.