The Potato Seed Store in Mendefera


The EU funded the construction through the ‘Support to the Agricultural Sector/Food Security in Eritrea’ project.


The climate in the area around Mendefera (Zoba Debub) is favourable for production of potato, one of the staple crops in Eritrea. Traditional farming results in a poor yield of about one tonne per hectare; with improved seeds, combined with appropriate farming techniques, yields can easily reach up to 4 tonnes per hectare.

The tissue culture laboratory at the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) is contributing to this result: it cleans seeds so that they are free of pathogens (viruses, bacteria and fungi). Thus, rather than importing clean seeds, such seeds can be obtained in a cheaper and more sustainable way.

Farmers play an essential role in propagating the improved seeds. They buy virus-free seeds from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA – Zoba administration) along with fertilisers and pesticides.

Upon signing a contract with the Zoba Administration, the farmers agree to follow technical advice during cultivation so that the harvested potatoes meet the quality standards required for collection.

Farmers are offered 25% on top of the market price for their produce as an incentive to ensure delivery of quality seeds to the potato seed store. In the store, trained workers carefully select the potatoes that are suitable for further multiplication.

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Having recently started its operation, the activity around the potato seed store cannot yet cover the demand of all the interested farmers. Currently the scheme only involves model farmers; they could play a prominent role once the MoA hands the responsibility for running the store to farmer associations in the future.

Nevertheless, with a storage capacity of 216 tonnes, the area is to benefit from the increased income brought by this activity in the years to come.

The European Union (EU) funded the construction of the potato seed store through the “Support to the agricultural sector/food security in Eritrea” project (10th European Development Fund); the Ministry of Agriculture contributed with the construction of the fence, guard room and water reservoir.

EU Delegation staff, together with MoA staff and an independent expert, visited the site at the occasion of a result-oriented monitoring mission for the project (17-25 July 2017).