Launch of the National Potato and Sweetpotato Development Strategy of Ethiopia

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    CGIAR Initiative on National Policies and Strategies
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The National Potato and Sweetpotato Development Strategy of Ethiopia was launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event was marked with the celebration of the first International Day of Potato on 30th May 2024.  The national strategy provides a roadmap for sustainable improvement in the production and productivity of potatoes and sweetpotatoes to improve the livelihoods of farmers, rural communities, and the country’s overall economy.

Successful implementation of the seven-year National Potato and Sweetpotato Development Strategy will help to increase the incomes of potato and sweetpotato value chain actors, improve food security, create jobs, and boost exports, transforming the sub-sector and impacting the broader economy by 2030.  The strategy’s implementation framework includes key stakeholders from public, private, non-governmental, and international organizations, with the Ministry of Agriculture playing the coordination role. It emphasizes active stakeholder engagement, adaptive management, and regular updates.

The development and launch of this strategy were successfully achieved through stakeholder engagement including the Irish Potato Research and Development Association (IPRaDA), technical and financial support from the CGIAR initiative on National Policies and Strategies (NPS) through the International Potato Center, and other partners including VITA, SNV, Stichting Wageningen University Research Ethiopia (SWRE), and EIAR. The strategy is a timely response to pressing issues such as climate change, rapid population growth, malnutrition, and limited agricultural diversification. The plan aims to amplify the contribution of potato and sweetpotato to realize a sustainable and resilient food system. This national strategy encourages Ethiopia to employ all possible adaptation and mitigation measures to manage these challenges, meet the increasing food demand, combat malnutrition, and foster diversified and intensified agricultural practices.

“The strategy for potato development will play a significant role in the country’s economy, food system and job creation,” said Mr. Abera Mulat, Agriculture Advisor at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Sector, Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, which makes up 46% of the GDP and employs 85% of the workforce. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2023, agriculture also contributes to 64% of the total employment. Given the central role of the agriculture sector in the economy, Ethiopia has established a national agenda focused on ensuring food and nutrition security, creating job opportunities, sustainable provision of raw materials for agro-industries, and boosting foreign currency earnings through promoting exports and substituting imports. The income generated from agricultural activities improves living standards and supports education, healthcare, and overall well-being. By diversifying income sources through crop production and commercialization, farmers can reduce their vulnerability to economic shocks and improve their livelihoods.

With that in mind, we put our focus on potatoes and sweetpotatoes. Despite similarities in name, potato is not related to sweetpotato. Unlike potato –a tuber or thickened stem – the sweetpotato is a storage root. Despite a physical similarity, yams are not related either. Potato and sweetpotato play a significant role in food and nutritional security. After rice and wheat, potato is the third most widely consumed staple crop globally. Likewise, sweetpotato is the sixth most important food crop after rice, wheat, potatoes, maize, and cassava worldwide, and the fifth most important food crop in developing countries (CIP). It is estimated that by 2030, the total production of potatoes will reach 750 million tons, with an increase of 112%, of which the production of Asia, Africa, and Latin America will exceed 440 million tons, with a rise of 100%, accounting for about 59% of the world (FAO).

They are nutritionally and economically advantageous, creating employment opportunities and generating income for millions of people along their respective value chains. In Ethiopia, about 42 improved varieties have been released to date, and more than 6 million tonnes is produced annually, significantly contributing to the employment of over seven million households in rural and marginalized areas creating special economic opportunities for women and youth societal groups. Potato and sweetpotato combat malnutrition and offer multiple benefits, supporting the food and nutritional security of about 36 million rural population.

With the climate and environmental changes experienced globally, potato and sweetpotato have emerged as resilient and adaptable to diverse agro-ecologies. Potatoes are prominent in Ethiopia’s highlands, while sweetpotato are common in mid- and lowland areas, showing their complementary roles in diverse agroecological regions. Concerted efforts are being made in Ethiopia to enhance the productivity and sustainability of potato and sweetpotato production. Research institutions, government agencies, and development partners collaborate to develop and disseminate improved technologies. They aim to enhance productivity and profitability, household food and nutrition security, income generation, and ultimately foster economic growth in the country by unlocking the full potential of potato and sweetpotato.

It is essential to promote collaboration among stakeholders in Ethiopia to enhance the use of improved potato and sweetpotato technologies, improved propagation techniques and an efficient distribution system for high-quality seeds. Additionally, addressing challenges related to seed production, availability, and accessibility to farmers, as well as strengthening collaboration between research and extension systems, can enhance the adoption and use of improved technologies, leading to increased agricultural productivity, improved livelihoods for farmers, and enhanced food security in the country.

The stakeholders have renewed their commitment to ensuring the successful implementation of the National Potato and Sweetpotato Development Strategy. The next step involves broadening awareness of the strategy among a wider audience. In collaboration with stakeholders, CIP will work towards providing evidence-based information to support the strategy’s implementation. This information will enable the Ministry and stakeholders to effectively monitor the progress of the strategy, ensuring its objectives are met.


Joyce Maru, Regional Director for Africa, CIP

Leonard Kirui, Senior Manager, CIP

Sheewa Saikah, Communications Consultant, CIP

Setegn Gebeyehu, Country Manager and Sweetpotato Program Coordinator for Ethiopia, CIP

This work is part of the CGIAR Research Initiative on National Policies and Strategies (NPS). CGIAR launched NPS with national and international partners to build policy coherence, respond to policy demands and crises, and integrate policy tools at national and subnational levels in countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. CGIAR centers participating in NPS are The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (Alliance Bioversity-CIAT), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Potato Center (CIP), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and WorldFish. We would like to thank all funders who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund 



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