Integrating ICT and a portable diagnostic kit in commercial production of high quality tissue culture based sweet potato planting materials in East Africa

Integrating ICT and a portable diagnostic kit in commercial production of high quality tissue culture based sweet potato planting materials in East Africa

Preamble

Sweet potato is a key food crop for over 100 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It is not only fast growing, but also high yielding, nutritious and adaptable to a wide range of agro-ecologies. Sweet potato is also increasingly becoming an important source of animal feed. These numerous benefits have renewed interest in the crop, especially for ensuring food and nutrition security. Therefore, genetically pure, physiologically sound, pest and disease free sweet potato planting materials is important for farmers to improve their yields. However, most times, farmers obtain planting material from their own farms, or purchase from their neighbours, without a thought for quality. This allows accumulation of diseases through each successive generation, particularly the sweet potato virus disease, which severely affects elite varieties such as the orange fleshed vitamin A -rich sweet potato.

The technology

The technology being promoted in this project is a convergence of tissue culture production protocols, portable diagnostic kit and mapping using a mobile app. The tissue culture multiplication method or protocol includes production of pre-basic, basic and certified seed. The pre-basic seed are under screen houses by tissue culture laboratories, while the basic seed are produced in open fields by vine multipliers. Improved vine packaging is introduced to ensure longer product shelf life while being transported over long distances. The portable field based sweet potato disease diagnostic toolbox uses the wet chemistry multiplex method for detection of sweet potato viruses.

The web-based mobile application supports real time mapping of sweetpotato farmers, vine multipliers and other value addition components. The app is branded as “Viazi Vitamu” App.  It also captures data on projected yields and demand per season, as well as provide disease outbreak surveillance through automatic mapping of farmer queries.

Project Partners

Makerere University (MAK), Uganda
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Kenya
SENAI Farm Supplies Limited, Uganda
MIMEA International Kenya Limited, Kenya
Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI), Tanzania
Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), Rwanda

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