Uganda: Growing aeroponic potatoes

The average global production of potatoes is 17.4 tonnes per hectare, with USA considered as the most productive country, with an average of 44.2 tonnes per hectare. But experts are concerned with the production gap between countries even for the same varieties. 

The yield gap in developing and developed economies represents a loss of opportunity of more than 400 million tonnes. This revelation is made by experts in the Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research about potato growing as they make a case for aeroponic technologies. The experts say application of new technologies will increase potato yields thereby contributing to food supply and farmer incomes in developing countries.

As such, scientists have developed different methods examining the physiology of soilless potato tuber growth as alternatives to using field-grown plants. These methods include the zone-separation in which the tuber formation is separated from soil and root cuttings in vitro culture solution resulting in culture hydroponics and aeroponics.

The experts anticipate that a farmer or scientists developing potato tubers for seed production will end up acquiring clean seeds eliminating challenges like heat stress, floods, disease and pest attacks

In Uganda, scientists at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute (MUARIK) Kabanyolo, are using hydroponics technology for growing tomatoes while those in Kachwekano Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (KaZARDI in Kabale are suing aeroponics for cloning Irish potato seeds.

The pioneers
Dr Prossy Namugga, a plant breeder in charge of the aeroponics unit at KaZARDI, defines the technology as a modern technique for growing agricultural plants by providing a nutrient solution in the air without soil. Plant roots receive a nutrient spray mist from an atomising nozzle. 

Click here to access the research.

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