Due to the world’s population reaching 8 billion, there is a high demand for food security. The potato could be key in meeting this need. However, its production is declining and methods to increase yield are environmentally damaging. This article by By Prof Lucy Moleleki at the University of Pretoria in South Africa highlights the advantages of crop rotation as an effective, eco-friendly way to control pathogens and optimize yields.
The World Potato Congress Inc. (WPC) welcomes Douglas Harley and Derek Roulston as International Advisors. Harley, from Alexander Harley Seeds Ltd. in the UK, brings extensive experience in potato breeding and global export. Roulston, with a background in farming and development in Africa, contributes deep knowledge in potato seed production and international consulting. Their expertise is expected to greatly benefit the WPC, especially in the lead-up to the 12th Congress in Adelaide in 2024.
At the Food Systems Transformation symposium, experts highlighted the urgent need for a strategic overhaul of global food security methods. The event, hosted by Agrico and SeedNL, emphasized the importance of sustainable, inclusive food systems and the role of strategic policy in leveraging food as a geopolitical asset. Discussions covered the necessity of local focus, innovation, and multi-stakeholder cooperation, with a special mention of Africa’s challenges in value addition due to trade laws.
Kenyan researchers have engineered a blight-resistant GM potato, potentially transforming agriculture by increasing yields and minimizing pesticide use. The “Global Biotech Potato Partnership” project has shown promising results in confined field trials across Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria. The collaborative project, after promising trials, anticipates boosting harvests from 10 to 40 tonnes per hectare. Awaiting regulatory approval, this innovation could significantly enhance food security and sustainability, marking a major advance in biotech crops.
Zimbabwe has achieved full self-sufficiency in table potato production, thanks to a government-led import substitution policy initiated in 2010. This policy banned table potato imports, promoting local farming. The shift has been successful, with potato production rising from 52,000 tonnes in 2010 to 599,550 tonnes in 2022. There was a 37 percent drop in the value of seed potato imports from US$9 814 212 for the period January to August in 2022 to US$6 141 750 in the same period this year.
In October 2023, Nigeria introduced the National Potato Strategy, aiming to rejuvenate its potato industry. This strategy seeks to ensure food and nutrition security, promote trade surplus, and enhance incomes. Recognizing the challenges in the potato value chain, the plan involves collaboration among key stakeholders to maximize their combined strengths. The launch event highlighted the untapped potential of potato commercialization and emphasized the importance of quality seed access, strategic partnerships, and sector-wide coordination.
South African potato prices have surged, with a 10kg bag now costing R121 (6.25 euros), a 136% increase from last year, reports Carolize Jansen of FreshPlaza. Supply volumes have dropped by 46%. Other produce like bananas and pumpkins also face price hikes. Challenges such as water shortages and electricity issues plague farmers, raising concerns about food security and affordability in the region.
TNA Solutions, a food processing and packaging firm, completed a significant project for the Egyptian Army. Commissioned by the Egyptian NSPO in 2020, TNA introduced two advanced potato product production lines. The first line, for Hash Browns and Rosti, produces two metric tonnes hourly, while the second, for French Fries and other items, yields 10 metric tonnes. TNA oversees the entire process, including advanced distribution and packaging. Collaborating with Optima Solutions, TNA aids the Egyptian Ministry of Defence in self-sufficiency. The project’s June 2023 completion signifies a new era, with plans for further expansion.
World Potato Congress celebrates and highlights potato production breakthroughs in several countries
The World Potato Congress (WPC) highlights global potato industry successes on its website. For example, In Kenya, the potato sector is evolving with increased mechanization, leading to higher yields and reduced losses. In Uganda’s Zombo District, collaborative efforts have introduced advanced agricultural practices, benefiting small-scale farmers. These stories along with others from countries like Ethiopia, the Philippines and Yemen, underscore the importance of collaboration, innovation, and knowledge-sharing in the potato industry.
Scientists at Nigeria’s National Roots Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) are urged to enhance potato varieties’ resistance to diseases for sustainable food security. This call was made during the Potato Green Field Day at Plateau State University, emphasizing the role of technology in boosting potato yields and farmers’ economic power. The events aim to promote new technologies and Good Agricultural Practices. Potato late blight, a significant threat in Nigeria, destroyed 32,000 hectares of potatoes in Plateau State in 2022.
Potatoes in South Africa have been affected by soft rot and blackleg due to higher than usual rainfall. These bacterial diseases, first identified in 1988, thrive in anaerobic conditions, especially in wet environments. The bacteria can survive in tubers, plant debris, and various plants but not for long in soil. Infected tubers initially show no symptoms, but under conditions like waterlogging, the bacteria multiply, leading to soft rot. Transmission can occur through infested tubers, water, or mechanical means.
Boosting agriculture: Nigeria’s ambitious five-year blueprint for increased potato production unveiled
Nigeria, in collaboration with the Green Innovation Centre and GIZ, has launched the National Potato Strategy (NPS) 2023-2028. This five-year plan, initiated in Jos, Plateau State, aims to boost export revenues and ensure food and nutritional security. The strategy focuses on stimulating economic growth, creating jobs, and enhancing livelihoods, capitalizing on Nigeria’s potential to grow potatoes commercially in 12 states.
Nigeria has introduced new potato varieties to bolster its local farming and reduce dependence on European seeds. These varieties, resistant to disease and suited to Nigeria’s climate, were launched by the Nigerian Potato Seed Safety Partnership with Germany’s GIZ support. Collaborating with local research institutes, four types—Unica, Juriya, Babban, and Kyau—will be distributed. This move addresses the country’s low potato yield and emphasizes the importance of local production for food security amidst global challenges.
On National Potato Day, South Africa celebrates its long-standing love for potatoes, a vital part of its culinary history. As reported by Duncan Masiwa for Food for Mzansi, potatoes have been cherished for generations. Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes South Africa, highlights their unifying power and versatility. They’re not just a food source but also a symbol of unity and adaptability.
This article, written and published by Potato News Today, is aimed at providing readers with a summary of a comprehensive report by PJ Nell of Potatoes South Africa, titled “Overview of world potato markets”, published recently in the trade magazine CHIPS. The report highlights and explains several current trends in the global potato industry, and underscores the shifting preferences of consumers from fresh to processed potatoes.
A groundbreaking study by Egypt’s Mansoura University reveals that fertilizers rich in calcium, magnesium, and zinc significantly boost potato yields. Led by M.K.F. El-Tawashy, the research tested BRANDT Manni-Plex fertilizers and found notable increases in both the size and weight of potato yields when applied to newly reclaimed soil. The study underscores the potential for higher profitability for farmers through enhanced produce quality and advocates for more sustainable fertilization strategies in agriculture.
South Africa showcases its deep-rooted appreciation for the potato as it eagerly anticipates National Potato Day on August 19. This event not only celebrates the culinary versatility of the tuber but also highlights its significance in the nation’s diet and culture. As the day approaches, South Africans are preparing to honor the humble spud, reflecting its cherished status from farm to feast. The nation’s potato pride is truly unparalleled.
Potatoes prices in South Africa have reached record levels for the year and are trading at 77% higher than a year ago. This week, the prices again increased, reaching ZAR81,67/10kg (approx $4.50) , Johnny van der Merwe, managing director of AM Trends, says. Speakers at the Potatoes South Africa (PSA) research symposium held this week noted that the high level of wastage in the potato industry was contributing to higher prices, and reducing profitability on farms.
‘Innovating the future of potatoes’: Potatoes SA Symposium to propel South African potato industry forward
The Potatoes SA Research Symposium, scheduled for July 18-19, 2023, aims to address challenges and prioritize innovation in the South African potato industry. The event will focus on alternative uses for low-grade potatoes, soil health, data utilization, and quality optimization. The symposium, supported by leading industry sponsors, will foster collaboration and knowledge sharing among growers, experts, and stakeholders, with the goal of advancing the sector’s growth and sustainability.
Tanzania and the Netherlands are collaborating to develop a vibrant potato seed sector in Tanzania. The partnership has led to the registration of 12 Dutch certified potato seed varieties, potentially increasing productivity. The government is creating a conducive environment for private sector involvement, addressing issues like postharvest losses, and launching guidelines for the avocado sector. The initiative aims to enhance food security and create business opportunities.
Relief to Kenyan potato farmers: New pest-resistant, high yielding variety introduced in the country
Kenya’s potato farmers are set to benefit from a new pest-resistant, high-yield potato variety. The Potato Consortium introduced the variety, which is in high demand globally, particularly by fast-food chains. The introduction will also usher in contractual farming, ensuring a ready market for farmers. This development is expected to increase yield, eliminate middlemen, and attract younger people to farming, thereby improving food security and farmers’ livelihoods.
The changing face of oils under heat: A study on the effects of repeated frying in home and industrial cooking
Researchers at Rivers State University investigated the effects of frying cycles on the physical, chemical, and antioxidant properties of four different vegetable oils during the deep-fat frying of potato chips (fries). The study revealed that each frying cycle significantly degraded the oils’ physical, chemical, and antioxidant qualities. Sesame oil experienced the most significant loss in phenolic and flavonoid content, while almond oil had the greatest decrease in antioxidant capacity. The findings underscore the importance of understanding oil transformations during frying for food quality and health considerations. This article is a summary of the research findings.
Innovation in plant breeding: The promise of hybrid potatoes in enhancing sustainability, food security
A hybrid potato could help bolster global food security, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, according to a book presented at a mini-symposium in Wageningen. Funded by the NWO, the research project involved several institutes including Wageningen University & Research and Solynta. Hybrid seed can be produced faster, requires less material for planting, doesn’t carry diseases, and has longer storage potential. This could significantly impact potato yields in remote regions and respond swiftly to farmers’ needs.
Nairobi, Kenya, has been selected to host the 2026 World Potato Congress, a significant global event aimed at fostering partnerships to enhance food systems, food security, and international trade. This marks the first time the biennial congress will be held in sub-Saharan Africa. It is expected to boost potato production, employment, and sustainable agriculture in the region, while also providing a robust platform for networking, knowledge sharing, and investment in the potato sector.