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Trial unvails potato farming potential

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Trials conducted by the Department of Agricultural Research Services have revealed that potato farming could be expanded to non-traditional growing districts of Malawi.

Senior Deputy Director of Agricultural Research Services at the department Margaret Chilipanthenga said this during an interface with some potato farmers recently.

Chilipanthenga said the department was conducting research on potential of non-traditional potato-growing districts to grow the crop in line with rising demand.

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“In Malawi, we have a high demand for potato, yet the only districts that produce it are Ntcheu and Dedza and parts of Nyika and Viphya highlands, which are a bit cold.

“We are looking at places where we can produce potato to meet the demand. That’s why we are trying to produce them in areas outside the cold areas,” Chilipanthenga said.

The varieties were produced under a project dubbed QuickGro, which is aimed at producing potato varieties that are heat-tolerant and resistant to late blight and viral diseases as well as high yielding.

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QuickGro Project Manager Obed Mwenye said farmers could harvest mature tubers within two months after planting.

“One major advantage with the early maturing varieties is that farmers can start to eat even before maize starts tussling, a lean period in most parts of the country, and in which most households are in dire need of food,” Mwenye said.

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