The project is focusing on “Integrating ICT in Commercial Production of Quality Sweetpotato Planting Material in East Africa (ICOPSEA)”. The project is a consortium of 6 East African partners in including 2 universities (Makerere University; Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology), 2 research institutes (Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute, Tanzania; Rwanda Agricultural Board) and 2 private laboratories (MIMEA International Kenya Ltd; SENAI Farm Supplies Ltd). The funding has been provided by the Bioresources Innovations Network for Eastern Africa Development (BioInnovate Africa; www.bioinnovate-africa.org) Programme, a regional initiative currently operational in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). BioInnovate is based at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Nairobi Kenya, and the funds will assist countries in eastern Africa benefit from the advances in biosciences, by converting such technologies into innovations for inclusive growth and sustainable development.

The conceptualization of the project stemmed from the realisation that use of poor quality sweetpotato planting material results in 50-98% yield reduction in elite varieties, and the associated increasing demand for quality planting material. The ICOPSEA consortium is led by Makerere University and is expected to contribute to enhanced food and income security among smallholder farmers in East Africa through commercialization of the sweetpotato seed value chain. The ICOPSEA consortium project will run for 3 years (2018-2020).

Development Objective

The development objective of this project is to improve food security and incomes of smallholder farming communities in East Africa through improved access to quality seed for increased sweetpotato productivity and marketing, and hence the crop’s competitiveness. The partner scientists, government departments of crop protection (inspection), innovators based at the regional universities and research institutes will work with private sector companies to achieve this objective. It is expected that the capacity of the researchers and innovators, and their institutions, will transfer bio-innovations and technologies to the market through the private sector partners to smallholder farmers in the East African region.

Expected Outcomes

This project is expected to contribute to enhanced food and income security among smallholder farmers in East Africa through commercialization of the sweetpotato seed value chain. This project will catalyze the development of a sustainable private sector led sweetpotato seed system in East Africa with enterprises developed along the seed value chain. The project key outputs are expected to lead to outcomes that will be manifested as changes in behaviour and/or practices by smallholder farmers and other stakeholders in the seed value chain, processing, marketing and consumers. The three major outcomes will include: i) A sustainable system for commercial production and delivery of adequate quantities of certified seed for increased sweetpotato productivity, ii) Adoption of a field based sweetpotato disease diagnostic kit and quality seed production guidelines by the different stakeholders (inspectors, vine multipliers and farmers) for quality control in the sweetpotato seed value chain, and iii) Use of a web-based mobile application for information access and, monitoring seed production, inspection and marketing activities in the sweetpotato quality seed value chain.