Bridging the Gap in Quality and Quantity of Seed Potatoes through Farmer Managed Screen Houses in Uganda
Quality seed potato is a key factor in enhancing potato yields in Uganda. Available disease-free seed potato accounts for less than 5% of the whole potato seed market demand in Uganda leaving 95% as seed availability gap. This study was conducted to explore the potential of using farmer managed screen houses to alleviate the seed potato availability gap that exists in Uganda. Six screen houses of 7 m × 14 m each with capacity of 1620 plants were set up, three (3) screen houses in Bukimbiri, one (1) in Kisoro, one (1) in Hamurwa and one (1) in Maziba sites. All the sites were managed by trained six famers. Sterilized soil was used to reduce the incidence of pathogens and to ensure that clean minitubers were produced. Seed production was done in 2015 for two consecutive seasons (A and B). From the 6 screen houses, a total of 107,638 clean mini-tubers were generated across the sites for both seasons. At multiplication ratio of 1: 9 the generated mini-tubers have the potential of generating 968,742 tubers. This would reduce on existing seed gap for the next season. It was noted during the study that mini-tuber production, vigour and rate of growth varied significantly (P<0.001) across the varieties with ‘Rwangume’ achieving the highest yield in terms of tuber number per plant and height, compared to other 4 varieties (Kiningi, Rwashaki, Kachpot 1 and Victoria). This study showed that production of disease free mini-tuber at farmer level is possible using screen house technology and has a potential of reducing the seed availability gap through production of quality seed that can be accessed by other farmers.