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Contributions needed to bring new late blight resistant potato variety to smallholder farmers’ fields in East Africa

The 2Blades Foundation, a non-profit research organization based in the Chicago area, is a principal sponsor of a research project that recently completed the development of a potato variety that is completely resistant to late-blight.

2Blades Foundation says on its website: “The discovery is of historic importance, and now 2Blades is seeking partners to help bring this disease-resistant potato variety to market and fight hunger in East Africa.”

In Kenya and Uganda, where over 1 million smallholder farmers now grow potatoes, late-blight disease can destroy up to 70 percent (or more) of their crop. Farmers in wealthier nations spray fungicide to protect potato crops, but these treatments may be unavailable or un-affordable in developing countries.

2Blades’ partners’ new disease-resistant potato variety can boost African farmers’ production, increase their incomes, and improve their families’ health.

According to 2Blades’ research partner in Kenya, Dr. Marc Ghislain of the International Potato Center (CIP), the new disease-resistant potato has been tested in Uganda fields for the past 5 years and “consistently displayed complete resistance, not needing a single drop of chemical fungicide.”

Marc worked very closely with Dr. Alex Barekye at Uganda’s National Agriculture Organization, which hosted and ran the trials.

This “would mean a lot more money to smallholders in Africa who can barely afford to send their children to school, purchase a nutritionally balanced diet, and access medical care,” he says.

CIP estimates that farmers’ incomes can be increased by 40 percent with the new resilient potato variety.

Visit this page on the 2Blades Foundation website for further details on this project, including on how to contribute to the cause.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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