The African Potato Association (APA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya, the National Potato Council of Kenya, and the International Potato Center hosted the Ninth Triennial African Potato Association (APA) conference, which was held at the Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha, Kenya from the 30th of June through to the 4th of July 2013.

The conference had the following main topics: First, it is an opportunity for scientists from within and outside of the continent to review the progress of potato and sweetpotato research in Africa. Second, the forum enables scientists to engage with other stakeholders (development agents, input dealers, innovative farmers, etc.) who also participate through exhibitions, presentations and panel discussions. Third, out of this sharing of knowledge and learning, we anticipate that new public-public and public-private sector partnerships will emerge.

  • Appropriate policies for germplasm exchange, food and nutrition security, and trade in Africa
  • Getting seed systems moving
  • Major advances in breeding and crop management
  • Innovations in postharvest management, processing technologies, marketing systems and technology transfer
  • New evidence concerning nutritional value and changing behaviours
Exhibition on the APA Conference 2013

Keynote Speakers APA 2013

Strategies to improve poor seed potato quality and supply in sub-Saharan Africa

Paul Demo is a potato specialist with 23 years of experience working in Sub-Saharan Africa and currently the International Potato Center’s (CIP) Senior Country Liaison Scientist for Malawi. His long-term research interest is on how to solve the problem of shortage of quality seed potato using innovative seed production systems and public-private sector partnerships. He also has substantial experience in the selection of adapted potato varieties for small scale farmers and for different end uses and potato crop nutrition and soil fertility management. Prior to joining CIP, he played a leading role in developing the potato program in his native country of Cameroun (1990-2003). From 2003 to 2006, he served as SSA Regional Potato Expert for Eastern and Central Africa. Since 2007, he has been based in Lilongwe, Malawi, leading CIP’s program in Malawi and designing the programs for CIP’s potato work in Mozambique and Angola. CIP’s work in Malawi, supported by Irish Aid and the Scottish government, focuses on the development of a sustainable quality seed potato multiplication system and variety selection and public-private partnerships approach to build viable value chains.

Was small ever beautiful? Moving local sweetpotato seed systems to scale in Sub-Saharan Africa

Margaret McEwan is a social scientist with over 30 years working in rural development, farming systems research, household food security and nutrition in eastern and southern Africa. She has a particular concern in how to engage multi-disciplinary teams and stakeholder partnerships in ensuring improved livelihood and nutrition outcomes. Her current research interests explore the interaction between agricultural technology and society, and how differing perceptions of seed quality influences the institutional arrangements for emerging sweetpotato seed systems in Tanzania and Ethiopia. These findings will lead to an understanding of how to retain the quality of sweetpotato planting material when seed systems go to scale. Margaret joined CIP at the end of 2008. Prior to this she worked with FAO, SIDA, and AUSAID.

Role of the private sector, private-public sector partnerships, and intellectual property management in technology transfer

Ian Barker is head of Agricultural Partnerships at the Syngenta Foundation. He has over 25 years of experience of R&D management in plant pathology and diagnostics technology. Before joining the Foundation, he was Head of Seed Systems for the International Potato Center (CIP) in Nairobi, improving the provision of affordable quality planting material for smallholders in developing countries. Ian chaired CIP’s public-private partnership committee, and has implemented innovative partnerships using private sector investment and know-how to increase the availability of quality potato seed in East Africa. Previously, he worked as Head of Diagnostics at the UK Food and Environment Research Agency, developing and commercializing novel diagnostic methods for plant and animal diseases as well as food and feed contaminants. Ian graduated from Wye College, University of London, and holds a PhD from the University of Exeter, UK. Within the Foundation, he is currently responsible for leading a program aimed at assuring access to quality seed of improved varieties for small-holder farmers.

Disease Management, especially viruses in potato and sweetpotato

Dr Jari Valkonen is the professor of plant pathology at University of Helsinki, Finland. His areas of expertise are in molecular virus-plant interactions and pathogen defense of plants. Most of his research and published works concern viruses of potato and sweetpotato and aim especially to deeper understanding of the antiviral mechanisms. Since early 1990s his studies have included collaboration with CIP and since middle 1990s East African institutes, such as Makerere University, Uganda, and Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute, Tanzania. An important aspect of the studies is also education of young scientists. Among those over 30 doctoral theses completed or on-going out under his supervision, eight are focused on viruses in sweetpotato or cassava in East Africa and five are authored by East African scientists. Valkonen is currently involved in the Seed Potato Development Project in Tanzania supported by the Finnish government and coordinated by CIP.

Advances in sweetpotato breeding from 1992 to 2012

Robert Mwanga has over 30 years of experience working with national and international sweetpotato research and development teams. He led the Uganda program on multiple-trait improvement of sweetpotato, breeding for increased beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) in the HarvestPlus Program in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and the Vitamin A for Africa (VITAA) initiative to alleviate vitamin A deficiency (VAD) in SSA. In Uganda, his research team released 20 cultivars, of which NASPOT 1, NASPOT 11, NASPOT 9 O (Vita) and NASPOT 10 O (Kabode), have been widely promoted and disseminated, the latter two for combating VAD in SSA countries. Dr. Mwanga has led, since 2009, regional sweetpotato breeding work in East and Central Africa under the Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA) project of CIP, applying modern methods of plant breeding such as accelerated breeding, and developing resistance to weevils and viruses by conventional and biotechnology means to improve the efficiency of sweetpotato breeding in the region.

On the road to potato processing in African tropical highlands

Prof Dr ir Anton J. Haverkort coordinates potato research projects at Plant Research International – Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands and is extra-ordinary professor Crop and Soil Science at the University of Pretoria (South Africa).
After graduation (MSc) he worked for many years for the International Potato Centre in Turkey, Rwanda, Peru and in Tunisia to improve potato production through agronomy, breeding and crop protection. He obtained his PhD at University of Reading (UK) on mathematical modelling of the influence of temperature and solar radiation on potato development and growth in tropical highlands.
At Wageningen University he presently coordinates research on the development of a cisgenic marker free late blight potato ( ; he carries out research on data management (ontology) in the French fries supply chain and leads sustainable potato production projects in 8 countries on four continents aimed at the efficient use of resources (land, water, energy) and value creation through trade and processing.
He has published over 75 scientific papers, 5 books and hundreds of conference papers, book chapters, columns and articles for professional journals. He is chairman or member of various potato committees in the Netherlands dealing with seed certification and genetic modification and was secretary general of the European Association of Potato Research. He travels frequently for potato research and consultancy for the industry, and (inter)national governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Improvement of processing technology research and utilization of sweetpotato and its derived foods

Professor Xie Jiang is a food storage and processing specialist at Institute of Agro-products Processing Science and Technology of Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS) located in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, P. R. China. Dr. Jiang specializes in food processing technologies and machines for processing root & tuber crops, mainly from potato and sweetpotato as well as fruit, vegetables, cereal and oils and meats. Currently , he is leading the improvement of processing potato and sweetpotato in Sichuan Province, which has the largest sweet-potato and potato production planting area and yield in China. The agro-industry processing of “starch-noodle-instant noodle” and snack foods have been commercially successful. In recent years, Dr. Jiang has won 7 Chinese state patents as well as 3 science & technology progressive prizes in the processing technology and machine improvements from the government, mostly for root & tuber products, including starch, noodles, snack foods, instant foods, whole nutrition flour and puree. Dr. Jiang engages in international exchange and cooperation with International Potato Center (CIP) and many other organizations at home and abroad.

Paradigm Shifts in Potato and Sweetpotato Research: Adapting the Agriculture Products Value Chain in Kenya

Dr. Lusike Wasilwa is the Assistant Director in charge of Horticulture and Industrial Crops Research at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. She obtained her doctorate from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in 1998 and a post-doctorate in Plant Pathology at Rutgers University in New Jersey in 2002. She was trained in horticulture and molecular plant pathology in the U.S., and participated in disseminating nutritional information on horticultural crops to local communities.In 2010,she received three medals from the International Society for Horticultural Science and is now the Vice Chairperson of the International Advisory Board of the Horticulture Collaborative Support Project, which is managed by University of California, Davies.

Assessing Nutritional Value and Changing Behaviors Regarding Sweetpotato Use in sub-Saharan Africa

Jan Low is an agricultural economist with over 20 years of experience working in sub-Saharan Africa. Her long-term research interest is on how to successfully integrate nutritional concerns into agricultural research and development, with a special focus on micronutrient-enhanced (“biofortified”) staple food crops. She also has considerable experience and interest in agricultural policy, safety nets, poverty analysis, and seed systems. She has designed, implemented, and analyzed numerous household surveys and is knowledgeable in database management. After serving 4.5 as CIP’s regional leader in SSA, Dr. Low is now leading the 10 year Sweetpotato Initiative launched in October 2009 to enhance the lives of 10 million African families in 10 years through exploiting the potential of sweetpotato to reduce poverty and undernutrition. The Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa is the foundation project supporting core research for development work for this multi-donor, multi-sector effort. Dr. Low is the current president for the APA.

Addressing the changing consumer behavior in the South African market

Etienne Booyens currently is the Marketing Manager at Potatoes South Africa and has occupied the position for the past six and a half years but has been involved in the potato and fresh produce industry for almost 18 years. Apart from his position as Marketing Manager, he is also Managing Director of Prokon (a Fresh Produce Quality Control Company on all the Fresh Produce Markets) and a Trustee of 5-a-Day Trust as well as a member of the International Potato Group.
He completed several courses and a degree in Business Management, Marketing and International Marketing at the Post Graduate School at the University of Pretoria, at University of South Africa (UNISA) and University of the Free State. This supports him in his daily activities of managing local marketing activities as well as foreign market development. His position at PSA expects him to negotiate with all sectors of the supply chain: from the most informal to the most formal.
Most recent engagements include: Local TV and radio appearance, presentations local & abroad and managing the establishment of good relations with potato related institutions in foreign countries.
 He is convinced that it is the affection for people that drives good relations within the industry and that those relationships play an important part in the growth of any industry.