Jun 26, 2013
At the beginning of June 2013, experts from all over the world discussed “Agricultural Development and Food Security - The Potential of the Potato for Africa“
On 4 and 5 June 2013 the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) hosted an expert forum themed “Agricultural Development and Food Security - The Potential of the Potato for Africa“ in Berlin. The meeting’s focus was on answering the question of “How and to what extent the potato can contribute to food security and to raising incomes, especially those of small-scale farmers?”.
Dr. Pamela Anderson, General Director of the International Potato Research Centre CIP, Peru, and Dr. Ernst Andres, K+S KALI GmbH Management Board Member, Germany, introduced their joint development efforts for food security. Approximately 100 international representatives from the fields of agricultural development, food and potato production and processing had accepted the invitation.
On the second day of the forum, participants split up in working groups and explored special issues. One of the working groups focused on the transfer of knowledge in agricultural practice, as well as on cooperation between public and private partners. Prof. Dr. Andreas Gransee, Head of Agricultural Advisory Department of K+S KALI GmbH, introduced the planned research project “Improved Soil Fertility Management for Sustainable Intensification in Potato Based Systems in Ethiopia and Kenya“, which will involve both K+S KALI GmbH and the Institute of Applied Plant Nutrition – IAPN in Göttingen.
Development Cooperation and Food Security: The Potato – Can it End Hunger and Poverty in Rural Areas?
Many African countries encounter problems when it comes to guaranteeing a sufficient supply of staple foods to their populations. Additionally, it is to be expected that the worldwide demand for agricultural products will continue to increase. Experts assume that global agricultural production will need to be increased by 60-70% by 2050. This will be a challenge to developing countries and regions in which food supply is already insufficient. In this context, potatoes may turn out to be a decisive factor.
Potatoes are the world’s fourth-most-important agricultural crop. Their characteristic features are their significant starch and mineral contents. Potatoes contain considerable proportions of vitamin C and are easily digested. They are also excellently suited for storage. Modern potato varieties allow harvests of 50 – 60 tons per hectare. Potatoes do however require a sufficient supply of minerals, which it cannot take in from soil alone. Additional applications of fertilisers are necessary for meeting their particularly high demands for potassium and magnesium. During one vegetation period, potatoes will absorb approximately 400kg K2O and 80kg MgO per hectare.
CIP, K+S KALI GmbH and GIZ Committed to Food Security
This is exactly were the joint development project for food security between the International Potato Research Centre CIP, Peru, K+S KALI GmbH and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) comes into play. In May 2011, these three public and private partners signed a “Letter of Intent” declaring their commitment to food security and development in rural areas, as well as to fighting poverty in the partner countries of German development cooperations. For the aforementioned reasons this moves potatoes right to the focus of attention of the cooperation efforts. The three cooperation partners are currently involved in setting up joint projects for achieving food security in Africa and in Asia.
Research Efforts of K+S KALI GmbH for Achieving Food Security
For more than 100 years K+S KALI GmbH has been involved in agricultural research, and helps in finding answers to agronomical questions. Extensive field trials in the world’s most important agricultural regions were and still are the foundation for its research activities. Together with its partners, K+S KALI GmbH initiates field trials, assesses their results and in its agronomic consulting activities passes results and findings on to farmers. The company has meanwhile created an encompassing database, not only on the optimal nutrient supply to agricultural crops, but also on the improvement of soil fertility.
“In addition to providing personnel, we also provide considerable financial resources for research. When it comes to the management of plant nutrition and soil fertility we are convinced that we are a valuable partner. Worldwide, there is no comparably extensive basis of knowledge. This particularly applies to supplying the potato with potassium and magnesium in integrated cropping systems”, Dr. Ernst Andres, K+S KALI GmbH Management Board Member, emphasizes. “One of the most important challenges of our time is to make this knowledge available to the farming community, wherever they may need it – but without neglecting existing local experience. This also applies to the African continent. By applying fertilisers in a balanced way to provide crops with the necessary nutrients, the proceeds from additional yields by far exceed the financial expenses on plant nutrients. This makes a positive contribution to the generating of income for farming families.”
Background Information on CIP and GIZ:
The International Potato Research Centre (Centro Internacional de la Papa, CIP) was founded in 1971, in Lima, Peru. It maintains offices in 30 developing countries in Asia, Africa and in Latin America. The CIP is part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). www.cipotato.org
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (German Society for International Cooperation – GIZ) is an internationally active federal enterprise. It supports the German Federal Government in its global activities for sustainable development and international education. The GIZ works to enable people and societies to develop own perspectives and to improve their living conditions. www.giz.de