Irish Potato Coalition About

The Irish Potato Coalition (so named because in Africa the potato is known as the Irish Potato to differentiate it from the sweet potato) was set up to to access the benefits of multi-country experiences and to encourage the collaboration between partners across the value chain using a combined approach between Development, Science and Business.

IPC will provide a practical approach, defining the necessary steps to set up a collaborative framework, a common approach for baselines and impact indicators and best practice guidelines to create an effective, sustainable and equitable value chain.

IPC will operate under the umbrella of The Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development (IFIAD.

For the potato crop to realise its full potential as a staple crop, there is a huge need to develop, test and scale up best practice. Potatoes have potential to double or treble current low yields of 8 tonnes/ha using quality approved seed, improved varieties and more effective farming practices. This potential, when achieved, will have a significant impact on providing nutrition to families, increasing household income and providing surplus to the wider market.

Rural women provide most of the labour in both small and large-scale potato production units, from cultivation, seed selection to planting, harvesting, storing and marketing making potatoes a very ‘gender sensitive’ crop.

The IPC sees that it’s activities can focus around six key pillars.

1. Collaboration between local operators, setting up partnerships and financing.

The IPC aims to:

  • Increase Public Private Partnership (PPP) for a functioning, efficient seed and market potato value chain.
  • Create scalable programme models that encourages other NGO’S, partners and funders into second and subsequent phases, which would incorporate additional sub-Saharan countries.
  • Encourage value chain financing tailored to meet the specific needs of different actors both large and small. Traders and processors need support or start-up capital to scale up and diversify production, improve quality and adapt to market demand.
  • Address micro-financing for smallholder farmers that need funding to purchase inputs.

2. Quality & healthy planting material.

The IPC aims to encourage a viable seed potato system for one million farmers in the initial 6 countries and to increase the present low level of farmers using quality seed from .25% to 25%. To achieve this goal IPC will promote specialized seed production chains with decentralised trained multipliers of early generation high quality seed, making it available to local farmers thus increasing the flow of quality seed entering the market.

Training of farmer groups, primary co-operatives and women groups in the importance of using quality seed, and how they can save seed on-farm from their own potato crops will be encouraged. Reputation will be the key marketing component of decentralised multipliers and quality control is essential to develop sound reputations of consistently providing quality seed.

3. Farm management and crop production technologies.

The IPC aims to facilitate knowledge transfer and learning between its partners by:

  • Developing evidence-based, experimental data and knowledge for improving the effectiveness of project design.
  • Raising awareness of the importance of crop rotation, soil management, water catchment disease control.
  • Ensuring smallholder farms are producing what the market is demanding.
  • Training in best practices for potato growing will allow farmers to make educated and calculated decisions right from start of production.
  • Selecting the right type of land and matching the variety to the market requirement along with sourcing the seed as they are all important tasks that require knowledge to allow the right decisions to be made.
  • The need to soil sample to establish which fertilisers should be applied.
  • Encouraging farm management and budget planning which is required to see the crop through from planting to marketing.
  • Identifying information gaps within the agricultural sector that could be addressed by empowering government extinction services of each country.

4. Sustainable production and storage of potatoes.

The IPC aim is to increase the present yields of potatoes from 8 tonnes per hectare to 16 tonnes per hectare for one million farmers. This will result in a huge boost of nutrition as well as incomes. In addition, training in harvesting and storage for ware potatoes will result in an increased price for farmers with surplus potatoes to store and market out of season.

Improved seed storage using locally-available materials and without electricity requirements will also be promoted

5. Creating added value through packaging and processing.

The IPC see the need to strengthen the private sector and support entrepreneurs wishing to enter the processing and added value sector. This in turn will increase the urban market and the demand for potatoes.

A business 2 business (B2B) support will look at brokering collaborate arrangements with sector associations which will increase assurance of buyers and producers thus enable further investment.

6. Marketing.

The IPC seeks to extend the smallholder market access to beyond immediate local markets as increases in production with a fixed level of local demand will lead to a decrease in price. This means that efforts to increase potato production needs to address the full value chain and to integrate smallholders into wider national market systems to avoid a limited demand constraint.

Strengthened potato value chains through aggregating farmers into sizeable groups and facilitation of direct linkages to processors and fostering rural-urban linkages are all aims of the IPC. By promoting the nutritional value of the potato in each country IPC will seek to increase consumer awareness of the nutritional properties found in potatoes.

As one of the main objectives of the IPC is to provide linkages both regional and international it will initially employ a fulltime International coordinator and a part time Irish coordinator based in Ireland.