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Really a nontraded commodity?, part 3: Potato trade in Uganda and beyond

DSCN1115 At the end of June 2012 we visited the potato wholesale market and the offices of the market information service Farmgain Africa in Kampala, Uganda to learn about trade in potatoes (called “Irish potato” in Uganda) in the country and the Eastern Africa region. Unstructured interviews have been held with traders, representatives of Farmgain and other experts. Here is what we’ve learnt:

Potato production in Uganda

According to the information received from the persons interviewed, most of the production of potatoes in Uganda is located in the Kabale region in the South of the country and in the Mt. Elgon region in the East. Potatoes are a commercial crop in Uganda. Farmers sell up to 80% of their harvest, but also retain a small part for own-consumption and as seed for the following cropping season.

Potato trade in Uganda

For trade within Uganda, potatoes are purchased by traders directly from the farmers in the production regions and taken to the wholesale market in Kampala. Kampala serves as a hub for potatoes in the countries and inter-regional trade only takes place if an importing region is on the route from a production region to Kampala.

Traders from Kampala trade internationally. Potatoes are brought from the Kampala market year-round to South Sudan. Markets in the DRC, Kenya and Rwanda are supplied mainly seasonally (Kenya during March/April and Rwanda during September/October). These countries, however, are also supplied directly from the production regions. Potatoes are directly taken from Kabale to Rwanda and the DRC. Kenya receive potatoes from the production regions in the East. Trade to the neighboring countries is cross-border, but also goes inland, for example to the capitals Kigali and Nairobi.

Also, the markets are well connected through the flow of price information. Traders use mobile phones to transmit information on market prices within the country and from/to neighboring countries (South Sudan, Kenya). As a consequence, international trade is responsive to price signals and arbitrage appears to take place. For example, at the time of the visit potatoes from Kenya were present on the market, according to the traders a consequence of the relatively high market prices in Kampala.

Potatoes traded on the wholesale market in Kampala are differentiated according to their intended end-use as table potatoes, for chipping or for French fries. These different qualities command different prices. While there is a certain price differential between the qualities, the traders confirmed that the prices moved together, e.g. if prices of one quality rise, prices of all other qualities increase as well.

[This blog post is basically a reproduction of a short report I just found on my harddrive. It can be seen as a complement to earlier work on trade in potatoes as was presented in “A look at the international potato trade network“.]

Simulation modeling for foresight analysis and ex-ante impact assessment in potato and sweetpotato

Is it possible to use large scale agricultural simulation models for the analysis of crops like potatoes and sweetpotatoes?

Yes! The Global Futures for Agriculture and Strategic Foresight (GFSF) project, which has the objective of developing and applying an integrated simulation modeling framework for the comprehensive analysis of trends and technology impacts in the CGIAR mandate crops and systems, is doing exactly this. At least the part of this research collaboration of all in all 12 centers of the CGIAR which is taking place at the International Potato Center (CIP), as was explained in a seminar held on 24 April 2014 at the CIP Headquarters in Lima.

The core component of the modeling framework developed in the project is the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT), an economic partial equilibrium model of the world agricultural sector. IMPACT has the capability of generating forward looking global analyses of supply, demand, prices and trade of 56 agricultural commodities in 320 geographic regions, taking into account major drivers like

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Virtual potato crop modeling: A comparison of genetic coefficients of the DSSAT-SUBSTOR potato model with breeding goals for developing countries

ReportVirtual crop modeling is the representation of future genetic improvements from plant breeding in crop growth simulation models through changes in genetic coefficients or other crop model parameters with the objective of analyzing ex-ante the impacts of improved traits on crop yields and assisting breeders in their breeding efforts.

As a first step towards virtual crop modeling for the potato crop, a new working paper provides a comparison of priority breeding targets for developing country regions with genetic coefficients and other parameters of the SUBSTOR-potato model, thereby showing the potential uses of the model for that purpose.

It is shown that SUBSTOR provides scope for virtual crop modeling. Out of nine priority target traits, five can currently be dealt with in model. Adaptation to long day conditions and heat tolerance can directly be represented by adjusting the genetic coefficients of the model. High yields and drought tolerance would require changes in parameters that are currently included in the model code. Earliness would require the implementation of a new parameter in the code. Additional traits related to crop quality and resistance to biotic stress factors will require more profound changes in either the model structure or the coupling of the crop growth model with disease models.

The full working paper Virtual potato crop modeling: A comparison of genetic coefficients of the DSSAT-SUBSTOR potato model with breeding goals for developing countries is available on ZENODO. The paper is intended as an entry point for discussions and further about how to best carry out virtual crop modeling for the potato crop.

Really a Nontraded Commodity? – Datasets and code now available

05/12/2013 4 comments

Figure 1: Trade network for fresh potatoes.The most successful contribution to this blog is (a little to my own surprise) our analysis of the international potato trade network Really a Nontraded Commodity?

For all those who are interested in what’s behind that work, or who want to take the analysis further, or simply want to know how these graphs have been produced we have now made the matrices of bilateral trade in fresh, frozen, and seed potatoes as well as the R code publicly available.

All data comes with a Creative Commons license and is openly accessible at the zenodo repository.

(Thanks, zenodo, for this great service!)

Ex-ante Evaluation of Improved Potato Varieties for Sub-Saharan Africa

This morning we presented our paper titled “Ex-ante Evaluation of Improved Potato Varieties for Sub-Saharan Africa” at the 9th Triennial Conference of the Africa Potato Association.

The paper features a forward looking analysis of the economic and social impacts of improved potato varieties in the region. We analyze a virtual investment project which involves the improvement and dissemination of potatoes in nine target countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The analysis employs the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) which has been developed at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Taking into account spill over effects across markets and countries, the analysis finds positive net welfare effects at the global level. Effects of the intervention on potato supply in the target countries range from 0.5% to 8.5%. Potato producers in these countries are found to benefit, but producers of other commodities and in other countries beyond the region are negatively affected. Lower market prices for potatoes and other commodities lead to welfare gains to consumers worldwide and in the region. At the level of the target countries, the improved potato varieties are found to generate returns on investment between 20% and over 70%, depending mainly on the level of adoption.

The analysis shows that investing in crop improvement and variety development for Sub-Saharan Africa can be a worthwhile undertaking with returns that easily justify intervention. However, it also highlights the importance of variety diffusion for the intra-regional distribution and the magnitude of the impacts and points to the importance of paying attention to quality attributes in breeding for high market acceptance and suggests putting emphasis in seed systems development and other interventions to promote quick dissemination and high adoption levels.

The full paper will be available in the conference proceedings.

9th Triennial Conference of the African Potato Association starts tomorrow

Tomorrow starts the 9th Triennial Conference of the Africa Potato Association. The event takes place in Naivasha, Kenya and will gather potato scientists from Africa and around the world to discuss issues around five major themes:

  1. Appropriate policies for germplasm exchange, food and nutrition security, and trade in Africa
  2. Getting seed systems moving
  3. Major advances in breeding and crop management
  4. Innovations in postharvest management, processing technologies, marketing systems and  technology transfer
  5. New evidence concerning nutritional value and changing behaviours

We will be present at the conference with a presentation on “Ex-ante Evaluation of Improved Potato Varieties for Sub-Saharan Africa”, which will also soon be available on this blog.

The conference can be followed on Twitter at @APA2013 and on Facebook under AfricanPotatoAssociation.

Modernization of Staple Food Value Chains Ensuring a Food-Secure Asia | Food Security Portal

12/12/2012 1 comment

Modernization of Staple Food Value Chains Ensuring a Food-Secure Asia:

The Quiet Revolution in Staple Food Value Chains: Enter the Dragon, the Elephant, and the Tiger, a new book by ADB and IFPRI, examines domestic rice and potato value chains in Bangladesh, China, and India since the 2007-2008 food price crisis.