Six dual-purpose sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas L. (Lam.)] cultivars, RW1117, RW111860, RW112419, RW112560, RW112910, and RW114923, were approved for release by the Plant Variety Release Committee of Rwanda in Feb. 2013 (RAB, Rwanda Agriculture Board, 2013). Sweetpotato forms a major part of the diet of both rural and urban communities in Rwanda. Moreover, the crop is expected to become more important with time as farmers engaged in mixed crop–livestock systems increasingly use vines as animal feed. Its use for both food and feed makes it attractive in areas where land availability is a constraint. Moreover, the implementation of the Rwandese government policy, which encourages use of zero grazing practice to mitigate soil erosion, emphasizes the use of sweetpotato as an alternative source of animal forage (MINAGRI, 2013).
The six released cultivars have relatively high dry matter content (≈30%) and have good to high consumer acceptance. The cultivars also have moderate to high levels of field resistance to sweetpotato virus disease (SPVD) and Alternaria bataticola blight and yield higher (8.3 to 22.8 t·ha−1) than the average storage root yield of 6.0 t·ha−1 [FAOSTAT, 2011; International Potato Center (CIP), 1999]. Two of the released cultivars, RW11-2910 and RW11-2560, are orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP), providing consumers with moderate to high beta-carotene (provitamin A) with potential to alleviate vitamin A deficiency. Thus, the official release of these dual-purpose sweetpotato cultivars for both food and animal feed, developed through on-station evaluation and farmer participatory selection, to augment the food and farming systems in Rwanda is reported.
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