Potato is a critical source of income and food security in Uganda. However due to constraints, including the high perishability of the crop and limited storage facilities, farmers are faced with a short marketing window that impacts their income.

This is particularly important in Eastern Uganda where there are two potato cropping seasons that result in a highly seasonal market with periods of excess and scarcity, causing prices to fluctuate.

To help farmers extend the shelf-life of their produce for sale in the off-season when the prices are higher – providing them with a more stable income and evening out market supplies – the “Postharvest innovations for better access to specialized ware potato markets” sub-project of the RTB-ENDURE project supported the construction of four ware potato ambient stores in Mbale, Kapchorwa and Kween districts.

These storage facilities were launched at a colorful event on October 23, 2015 which was preceded by a science day on October 22, 2015 at the Mbale Resort Hotel, Mbale in Eastern Uganda.

Led by the International Potato Center, in partnership with BugiZARDI (NARO), Self Help Africa, Makerere University and private sector partners, the sub-project is part of the larger three-year “Expanding Utilization of Roots, Tubers and Bananas and Reducing Their Postharvest Losses” (RTB-ENDURE) project implemented by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas.

During the science day, the RTB-ENDURE research team and other players in the potato research and development arena presented updates from on-going and completed work to improve performance of the sector.

Following an opening by Dr. Diego Naziri, RTB-ENDURE Project Leader, and a welcome speech by Dr. Lawrence Owere, Director of Research at BugiZARDI, a description of the sub-project and its planned outputs was provided by Dr. Monica Parker, Deputy Potato Science Leader for the International Potato Center in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Further sessions included lessons learned and challenges from the construction of the ambient ware potato stores, along with updates on market research and on the strategies to ensure the storage of quality potatoes, fair access to postharvest innovations and equitable benefit sharing between male and female value chain actors.

Participants inside a newly completed Ambient Ware Potato Store at Kapchorwa, Eastern Uganda. Photo by S. Quinn/CIP

This was followed by presentations by other research and development organizations (NARO-Kawanda, FAO and IFDC) of on-going initiatives to strengthen the potato value chain in Uganda and a meeting for participants to discuss the opportunities and challenges for a regional potato multi-stakeholders platform.

The RTB-ENDURE project is funded by the European Union and implemented with the technical support of IFAD, with the aim to improve food availability and income generation through better postharvest management and expanded utilization of root, tuber and banana crops in Uganda.