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New Potato Seeds Yield Better Harvests in Mozambique

Kaisse Adam, a smallholder farmer in Mozambique’s Niassa province, has been growing potatoes for the last 12 years. He has seen many good and bad harvests, but he had never before seen such high yields as when he started planting a potato variety called Calinga, one of seven new potato varieties released in 2011 through a Mozambican program supported by Feed the Future and implemented by the International Potato Center in partnership with the National Potato Program at the Agricultural Research Institute in Mozambique.

Adam’s first exposure to the Calinga variety was three years ago when he attended a training session for potato farmers that introduced them to several improved varieties. He was immediately impressed with Calinga’s robust vegetative and tuber characteristics and liked that it would require him to use much less pesticide compared to the older varieties he was used to.

After planting his first Calinga seeds in 2011, Adam was thrilled to harvest a potato crop that was seven times the yield he typically harvested with the old seed varieties. The dramatic improvement in his crop yield meant he could feed his family, sell some of the potatoes for a profit, and still save enough seed for the next planting season. This year, Adam had another successful harvest after receiving technical support to practice “positive selection,” a farming technique that uses the best-yielding plants in an existing crop as a source of seed for the next planting season.

Adam’s success sparked the interest of his neighbors, who purchased some of his improved potato seeds for their own farms. Ten local farmers have already benefited directly from Adam’s Calinga seeds, and Adam says more farmers are waiting to receive seeds from him as soon as he harvests his current crop.

With the profits he earned from the Calinga seeds, Adam bought a brand new motorcycle and finished restoration of his home latrine to provide better sanitation for his family. Thanks to Feed the Future’s support for getting improved seeds varieties into the hands of smallholder farmers, the potato business is enabling Adam to think bigger: he hopes to start expanding his house soon and aims to become a major seed dealer and potato grower in his community in the future. 

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