Component Leader and sweet potato specialist, Elick Guaf said these introduced varieties were cleaned of known viruses using the pathogen tested (PT) technology.
Guaf said PT is a term used for sweet potato seed or planting material free of known viruses. Kiripia and Alkena are project sites located in the Lower Kaugel area of Tambul District in the Western Highlands Province.
“Tambul is categorized by the EU ARD [project] as a climate imposed risk area with ‘excess soil moisture’ content,” Guaf said.
The cleaned materials were provided as improved planting materials for improved yields of sweet potato in farmer fields for own consumption as well as for livestock feed. Sweet potato is the staple food crop in the Tambul area.
“Farming system in the Tambul area is unique with large mounds (Tambul mounds) that manage both the soil temperature – increasing soil temperature of fermenting vegetation and incorporating it into the mounds – and excess soil moisture resulting from high precipitation levels,” Guaf said.
He said sweet potato activities in the two participating communities included initial survey, virus survey, assembly of farmers’ best sweet potato varieties, virus diagnosis of farmers’ sweet potato varieties, introduction of the 12 commercial varieties via PT, and the re-introduction of farmer varieties through PT.
Guaf said with NARI’s experience in the participating communities, the re-introduced farmer varieties will be held at the NARI Tambul screen house as source materials for further on-station and on-farm work.
Meanwhile a field day was held at Tambul on May 27 2015 to highlight the importance of the PT technology, how to prepare clean materials using PT, and improved sweet potato field planting and management practices.