Potato (Solanum Tubersum L.) Variety Diversity, Attributes And Farmers/ Needs In Ethiopia
Potato is commonly grown in low rainfall periods in Ethiopia and consequently crop yield is very low. New varieties with disease resistance have been released enabling them to be grown in the main rainy season and produce much higher yields. Nevertheless, the adoption of new varieties is not as high as expected. The majority of farmers still grow local varieties in the dry seasons. A series of experiments and activities were conducted to understand what traits farmers need as well as to document the distribution and importance of local Ethiopian varieties. A grower survey was conducted in six major potato production districts of Ethiopia during 2012 and 2014. At the same time, local varieties were collected from northwest and southern Ethiopia and characterized using molecular and morphological markers. Tubers of these varieties were tested and those found free of disease were multiplied in vitro and in the screenhouse for use in field trials. Nine local varieties and several new varieties were tested in two watering regimes (well-irrigated and stressed) under greenhouse conditions. A growers' participatory variety selection (PVS) experiment was also conducted in two districts in northwest Ethiopia during two production seasons (Meher and Belmehr). The distribution of varieties differed among agroecologies, cropping systems and the extent to which farmers had access to external markets, as did the traits with which farmers are most concerned. Seventy to ninety percent of farmers reported growing two or more varieties. Our genetic fingerprinting and morphological characterization revealed that, of 44 local potato varieties collected from major potato growing areas, only 15 are truly unique, the rest were found to be duplicates, known by different names. These unique Ethiopian local varieties harbor considerable genetic variation, comparable to that found in CIP, American and European clones. Some of the oldest Ethiopian clones appear to have descended from European germplasm. The water stress experiment shows that, in the Mesino season, no variety out-yielded the main local variety 'Siquare' under drought conditions. In the Belg season, 'Granola' and 'Abadamu' had the highest marketable tuber yields under both irrigated and stress conditions. Our results indicate potential for improving dry season potato production in Ethiopia by utilizing both selected local and new varieties. The growers' participatory experiment found that some local Ethiopian varieties yielded as well as or better than new varieties when using disease-free seed. Results further show that late-maturing varieties are, in general, well-adapted to Belmehr season while early-maturing ones with thick stems are well-adapted to Meher season. Overall, we found PVS to be an effective approach for identifying factors important for adoption of potato varieties. Based on these studies, we make several recommendations for those working to develop varieties suitable for farmers' and consumers' needs.
Potato; Variety diversity; Farmers needs
Perry,Keith Lloyd; Wolfe,David Walter; De Jong,Walter S.
Ph.D. of Horticultural Biology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis