Uganda marks the inaugural International Potato Day.

Uganda marks the inaugural International Potato Day.
Group photo at the Media Center

National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO),  Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, together with The Africa African Potato Association and other stakeholders convened at Media Centre to announce the 1st International Potatoe Days highlighting the vital role of potatoes in foods security, combating hunger, & driving economic development.

They also announced the forthcoming  13th African Potato Association Conference in May 2025 to be hosted by Uganda at Speke resort in Kampala.

International Potato Day  under the theme, ‘Harvesting Diversity, and Feeding Hope" will be marked every 30th of May

The Director General-NARO, Dr. Yona Baguma, who is also the President Africa Potato Association, said the conference will be a great learning experience. He said potato is gaining momentum in the food systems across the world and in the years to come will dominate the food command.

“The conference provides a great platform to trigger required changes to improve sweetpotato and potato production and competitiveness in Africa by applying new knowledge, tools and technology accessed through the meetings. Various stakeholders will be mobilised to tackle both the persistent and emerging production, handling, processing and marketing constrains for these two value chains, “Baguma explained.

 The Conference Organising Agencies include: the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), the International Potato Centre (CIP), the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Makerere University College of Agricultural Extension Services.

Baguma told the media at a press conference held at media centre as Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate the first-ever International Day of Potato to raise awareness about the nutritional and economic value of potatoes across the world.

The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, who was represented by the Commissioner Crops Resources and Certification, Dr. Paul Mwambu, noted that in Uganda, the cultivation of potatoes is central to the nation’s agricultural sector and the economy, with an annual production of approximately 1.8 million metric tons. He revealed that Uganda exports 55,412 metric tons of potato to neighbouring countries against 30,501 metric tons imported.

 He revealed that the Government of Uganda, through the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), in partnership with other key stakeholders, especially the International Potato Centre (CIP), has developed several sweet potato and potato varieties that are tolerant and resistant to pests and diseases, are high yielding and nutritious and suitable for agro-processing.

 The Minister highlighted sweet potato as the third most crucial crop in Uganda, following cassava and bananas, and notably emphasized its significance as the primary crop in the vicinity of Lake Victoria. He underscored their high nutritional value and their pivotal role as a dependable food source for both rural and urban populations, particularly during periods of scarcity or pre-harvest.

Potato farming also plays a vital role in Uganda, with the nation ranking as the third largest potato producer in East Africa. The annual output is estimated at 162,151 metric tons, positioning Uganda to cater to the increasing demand for processed potato products like French fries in the region.

However, the full potential of potatoes remains untapped due to the use of traditional varieties and limited value addition. Other challenges include; limited knowledge, inaccessibility to inputs, and low production and productivity, coupled with inadequate postharvest and processing technologies.

The government has undertaken initiatives to elevate the quality of potatoes, with a focus on enhancing the capabilities of seed producers, improving storage facilities, and refining marketing strategies to mitigate market price volatility