Centre launches disease resistant Irish potatoes

The International Potato Centre (CIP) last week handed over disease resistant Irish potato seeds to 10 farmers in Dedza.

The past two years have seen farmers in the district grappling with dwindling Irish potato harvests due to late blight disease.

The farmers received the seed potatoes at a ceremony organised by CIP at Fisikulibe Village in Traditional Authority Kamenyagwaza.

Speaking in an interview, CIP potato scientist Obed Mwenye said for the past two years, Irish potato farmers have seen their production figures lowered by 23 percent due to the effects of climate change.

“For a long time, potato growing districts such as Dedza, Lilongwe and Ntcheu, have been attacked by a disease called late blight locally known as chiwawu which has led to a drop in yields.

“It is for this reason that we approached Irish Aid to help us develop new varieties that can resist this disease,” he said.

Mwenye said CIP in conjunction with the Agricultural Research Department with funding from Irish Aid, have come up with several seeds that are resistant to this disease.

So far the disease-resistant seed varieties, namely Chuma, Thandizo, Mwayi, Violet and Zikomo will be multiplied by the 10 farmers who will then pass on to other farmers.

In his remarks, group village head (GVH) Kaboola thanked CIP for coming to the rescue of potato farmers in Dedza.

“We have been harvesting little or nothing at all because of the heavy rains which have been hitting our district and with these new seeds, farmers will now start enjoying the fruits of their labour,” he said.

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