Sniffing out the rotting potatoes

January 17th, 2022

A few weeks ago, I was asked to create a video on preparing the land for planting seed potatoes, as an intern with Three Mountains. This video is one of five short videos we are producing for Agriterra Potato Academy in Musanze.

Agriterra is founded by Dutch farmer organizations and aims to professionalize ambitious farmer cooperatives and farmer-led businesses around the world. In Rwanda, they are setting up the Academy together with a similar Rwandan organisation: Imbaraga.  Farmers work together at the Academy, using a ‘learning-by-doing’ approach. Three Mountains is producing short videos on growing seed potatoes, as well as presenting the content in the form of flipbooks. Flipbooks are easy to carry, so you can deliver training out in the field using the flipbook’s images and guiding questions.

Our videos are divided into short episodes into topics such as land preparation, planting, pest and disease control, field sampling, dehaulming (pulling off the leaves from the potato plants), harvesting, and how to store seed potatoes in a warehouse.

Little did I know when I joined Three Mountains that I would be making videos on a subject I didn’t know anything about! Until now, I’ve been more interested in eating potatoes, preferably in the form of chips, but not in growing them!  However, the more I worked on the video, the more interested I became. Designing e-learning content or a video about a subject you don’t know anything about is great fun, and you learn a lot!

For example, I learned that seed potatoes tend to get infected and rot if they are not stored carefully in a dry place with a lot of ventilation. Did you know that our noses are the most important parts of our body to use when we are in a potato warehouse? To keep seed potatoes safe, you need to go to the warehouse frequently to sniff out any rotting potatoes. The potatoes are stored on pallets, so it is difficult to check through all of them, especially those stored on the upper pallets, but if you just ‘follow your nose to where the smell is coming from, you’ll find those rotten potatoes – simple as that!

With this project, I’ve learned not only about potatoes but also about working as a team. I was free to ask questions and share my ideas on how to make this project successful.  It was a good way to get to know my Three Mountains colleagues, and to bond with them.

My thanks to Three Mountains, for their ideas, support and team spirit. You have made me feel at home. I know I have landed in the right place.

This happy intern wishes you all a happy 2022!