Uganda Commemorates Inaugural International Potato Day and Announces Hosting of African Potato Conference in 2025

Uganda Commemorates Inaugural International Potato Day and Announces Hosting of African Potato Conference in 2025

Uganda has joined the global community in celebrating the first-ever International Potato Day, an event aimed at raising awareness about the nutritional and economic significance of potatoes worldwide.

This commemoration follows the United Nations General Assembly's designation of May 30th as International Potato Day in December 2023, acknowledging the potato's vital role in addressing food security and nutrition challenges.

The inaugural celebration, held under the theme "Harvesting Diversity, Feeding Hope," emphasizes the vast array of over 5,000 improved potato varieties that support diverse production systems, culinary preferences, and industrial applications.

This diversity is crucial, especially in the face of global agri-food system threats.

At the Media Centre in Kampala, the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, represented by Commissioner of Crops Resources and Certification, Dr. Paul Mwambu, highlighted the significance of potato cultivation in Uganda.

The nation produces approximately 1.8 million metric tons of potatoes annually, exporting 55,412 metric tons to neighboring countries while importing 30,501 metric tons.

Dr. Mwambu noted the efforts of the Ugandan government, through the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and partners like the International Potato Centre (CIP), in developing high-yielding, pest-resistant, and nutritious sweet potato and potato varieties suitable for agro-processing.

He emphasized that sweet potatoes are the third most crucial crop in Uganda after cassava and bananas, playing a vital role as a reliable food source during periods of scarcity.

Potato farming is equally essential, with Uganda ranking as the third-largest potato producer in East Africa, producing 162,151 metric tons annually.

Despite this, the sector faces challenges such as reliance on traditional varieties, limited value addition, inadequate post-harvest technologies, and low production knowledge.

To address these issues, the government is focusing on improving seed quality, storage facilities, and marketing strategies to stabilize market prices.

In a significant announcement, Dr. Mwambu revealed that Uganda will host the 13th African Potato Association (APA) Conference from May 25th to 30th, 2025, in Kampala.

The conference, themed "Fostering Climate Smart Cropping Systems for Sustainable Potato and Sweet Potato Value Chains," will gather various stakeholders to discuss and implement strategies for improving the competitiveness and production of potatoes and sweet potatoes in Africa.

Dr. Yona Baguma, Director General of NARO and President of the African Potato Association, stated that the conference will provide a platform for accessing new knowledge, tools, and technologies to address persistent and emerging challenges in potato and sweet potato value chains.

Organizing agencies include NARO, CIP, FAO, WFP, and Makerere University College of Agricultural Extension Services.