PhD defence

Agronomic and environmental studies of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) and analysis of its value chain in Zimbabwe

PhD candidate O (Oniward) Svubure
Promotor PC (Paul) Struik
Anton Haverkort
Co-promotor prof. dr JM Steyn
Organisation Wageningen University & Research, Centre for Crop Systems Analysis

Fri 20 November 2015 08:30 to 10:00

Venue Aula, gebouwnummer 362


Irish potato is food for more than a billion people worldwide. In Zimbabwe, Irish potato is becoming an important food crop. Experts estimate annual production at nearly 120,000 t from around 6,000 ha. The government declared it a national strategic food security crop on 18 May 2012. The growing importance of potato as a food crop is prefaced on rising food insecurity in the country coupled with the impact of the radical land reform of 2000 on agricultural production. The reform completely restructured commercial agriculture when about 96 % of the original 12.5 million ha of large-scale commercial farmland in 1980 was taken up for resettlement by 2010. It is in this context that the potential of the new agrarian structure to sustainably increase Irish potato production was investigated. Grower interviews were conducted on management practices, input use, average yield, and infrastructure for potato production. Grower resource footprints of land, water, biocides and nutrients were calculated based on the actual yield. Actual tuber yield ranged from 8 – 35 t/ha across all systems representing a yield gap of over 77 %. Hence there is tremendous potential to increase potato output and help ease the food insecurity challenges the country currently faces through improving the low resource use efficiencies observed.