Optimisation of potato seed systems in Madagascar

CEFFEL (Conseil – Expérimentation – Formation en Fruits et Légumes) in Madagascar consists of 11 members, that represent 170,000 families. CEFFEL provides training sessions about production techniques and has a centre for trials and experiments. Furthermore, CEFFEL also trains agricultural advisors, and supports its members with economic information.

Potato productivity on Madagascar is on the decline as a result of bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum) and late blight (Phytophthora infestans). This affects the income of potato producers, threatens their livelihoods and negatively impacts on food security in the country. With ESFIM, CEFFEL together with researchers and its members, conducted parallel tests on the research station (3) and on farms (34), in three regions of Madagascar and found solutions to manage the diseases and to mitigate their impact on potato productivity and the corresponding income of potato producers. They explored and communicated:

  • effective strategies for integrated late blight management, by combining minimal pesticides regimes with varietal resistance;
  • a professionalization of seed potato sector through piloting of pragmatic seed potato traceability and market organisation;
  • locally tailored decision making tools for the timing of planting and harvesting of seed potatoes.

The goal of CEFFEL is to increase the income of the producers. The research results contributed to the strategy needed to achieve this. The results of the fight against the mildew have been disseminated among the producers of potatoes for consumption; choosing the right fungicide product enables them to reduce incidence. And using the systemic product allows them to reduce costs.

For the seed producers, the implementation of a functional traceability system provided certainty about the produced seeds; and the possibility to produce seeds of the size sought by potato producers will have a positive impact on quality. The presence of internal regulations that govern the multiplication of seed within CEFFEL makes it possible to better manage their network of seed producers.

Main outcomes

  • Testing of fungicides: among six products that are available in the market, three of which are contact products and three are systemic, it has been established what the most effective ones in fighting mildew are.
  • Testing of haulm-stripping with the aim of obtaining as much seeds as possible in the 28-35mm range. Three potato varieties among the biggest ones, and most appreciated by consumers, have been tested.

Conclusions

It has now become possible for CEFFEL to produce reliable potato seeds of good quality (the right size, resistant to diseases, known origin) and, above all, suited to the needs of potato farmers. Nonetheless, one big task remains ahead: the creation of a seed label, in order to improve the marketing of the product on the domestic market, which is still being flooded by counterfeit seeds.