Seeding the future: CIP and SFSA’s partnership develops climate-resilient potatoes for a warmer world

The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and International Potato Center collaborate to develop climate-resilient potato and sweetpotato varieties for tropical regions. Recent achievements include rapid breeding programs in Vietnam and innovative sweetpotato food products, signifying progress in food security and commercial benefits. Partnerships with local communities and global organizations, such as the World Food Program, enhance nutrition and empower growers. Looking ahead, strategies will adapt to urbanization challenges, ensuring sustainable agricultural practices meet future demands.

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Transforming Uganda’s potato value chain: A Kilimo Kisasa success story of sustainable production

Potatoes are key for food security and income in Uganda, with demand growing for Dutch varieties favored by the processing industry. Kilimo Kisasa Limited is changing the Ugandan agricultural scene by locally multiplying these desirable varieties, therefore offering a cost-effective and sustainable option for farmers. Through partnerships, Kilimo Kisasa is advancing sustainable practices, enhancing food security, and increasing farmer incomes.

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PoLoPo unveils SuperAA platform: A protein biofactory in a potato

PoLoPo introduced the SuperAA platform, turning potatoes into micro-biofactories for protein production—patatin and egg protein ovalbumin. Utilizing potatoes’ growth advantages, the platform promises economical and sustainable solutions for the food system, offering ingredients for a range of food products. With significant market potential, PoLoPo has already garnered awards and seed funding, signaling upcoming industry tests for their innovative proteins.

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Breeding the super spud: How scientists are striving to create climate-resilient potatoes

The ADAPT project explores breeding resilient potatoes through genetics. Researchers have discovered how the SP6A protein triggers potato formation and how high temperatures disrupt this process. By manipulating genes related to SP6A, they’ve produced potatoes that grow earlier and in greater numbers, even in adverse conditions. Findings on the GERMIN3 gene also contribute to improved potato yield by managing sugar supply during growth. Such advances aim at securing food production despite climate challenges.

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GM potatoes to be released to Nigerian farmers in 2025

Beginning in the 2025 planting season, Nigerian farmers will have access to new late blight-resistant potato varieties, according to Dr. Charles Amadi of NRCRI. This development is part of the USAID-funded GBPP, led by Michigan State University, in collaboration with multiple partners. The varieties promise to address the blight that devastates over 90% of crops in Nigeria.

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MSU’s pioneering diploid potato project backs research into new way of breeding potatoes

About a decade ago, Michigan State University’s professor Dave Douches, launched the SolCAP initiative, funded by the USDA NIFA, focusing on potato and tomato crop improvements. He spearheaded a shift towards breeding diploid potatoes, which have two sets of chromosomes, enabling easier gene editing and rapid genetic progress. With Project GREEEN’s support, his efforts include developing self-compatible diploid potatoes and enhancing pest resistance, such as against the Colorado potato beetle.

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Solynta’s strategic transformation: Embracing a seed-driven future in potato farming

Solynta, a Dutch hybrid potato seed company, has rebranded to ‘Solynta – true potato seeds’ to align with its market strategy. The company, leading in hybrid potato breeding tech, offers seeds that produce disease-resistant potatoes, enhancing sustainability. With global patents and new leadership, Solynta has expanded trials and partnerships in 40 countries, reinforcing its commitment to food security and providing disease-free seeds to farmers worldwide.

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‘TuberGene’: Innovative new precision breeding project in the UK promises radical solutions

B-hive Innovations leads ‘TuberGene’, a UKRI-funded research to revolutionize the UK’s potato industry through precision breeding and gene editing. The project focuses on reducing food waste by curbing bruising and accelerating cooking times. The initiative reflects responses to consumer demand shifts and strives for sustainable agriculture, with advancements like the “Super Spud” and wider applications in fresh produce farming.

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The digital eye in potato breeding: How machine vision is shaping the future of spuds

A team of U.S. scientists published an innovative cost-effective phenotyping strategy to improve potato breeding in the Plant Phenome Journal. This scalable, machine vision technology assesses size, shape, and color of potatoes with high precision, streamlining the breeding process. This AI-driven method, also capable of detecting defects and inferring weight, offers a new approach to selecting and cultivating superior potato varieties, significantly advancing the field.

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HZPC’s mission in the Andes: Protecting potato diversity and supporting farmers

In Peru’s Andes, efforts by HZPC and the CIP are preserving potato genetic diversity with direct farmer support through the AGUAPAN initiative. Around 100 farming families who conserve up to 300 ancient potato varieties benefit from financial contributions, tackling poverty and enhancing well-being. Researchers strive to document these landraces, including a ‘potato field guide’ for the over 3,000 unique varieties.

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James Hutton Institute spearheads global food security with new National Potato Innovation Centre

The James Hutton Institute plans to establish the National Potato Innovation Centre to bolster food security, focusing on potatoes’ role in global strategies. The NPIC will utilize a new glasshouse complex to breed potato varieties suited to warmer, sustainable environments. With a reputation in potato science and a history of R&D success, the institute’s facility, housing the Commonwealth Potato Collection, aims to promote drought tolerance and disease resistance in potatoes, thereby future-proofing the UK industry.

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Albert Bartlett to develop new potato varieties to replace Maris Piper

UK potato supplier Albert Bartlett plans to develop alternative potato varieties due to the Maris Piper’s challenges, amidst rising costs and erratic yields from extreme weather. Issues with floods, droughts, and increased energy and fertilizer prices have impacted production. Varieties like King Edwards and Maris Peer, though popular, are difficult and costly to grow. With profit margins thinning, an agronomy team is focusing on climate-resilient alternatives.

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Agrico and The Potato Company to unite: A strategic acquisition to redefine the seed potato industry

Agrico is set to acquire The Potato Company’s seed potato operations, aiming to meet growing global demand. This move, founded on a successful partnership, will enhance Agrico’s presence in Western Europe’s competitive market. TPC will function as a subsidiary, bringing in extensive expertise and a large distribution network. Both companies view the acquisition as beneficial, promising improved returns for growers and setting new industry standards for innovation and cooperation.

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Navigating global challenges: Royal HZPC Group matches previous year’s success and prepares for leadership change

Royal HZPC Group weathered a difficult 2023 in potato breeding, with reduced yields in Europe but expected financial parity with the previous year. Adapting through sales of top seed sizes and exceptional permissions outside the EU, the company offset a 10% European sales drop with a global 3% tonnage increase. A stable €420 million turnover is projected despite debt collection concerns. CEO Gerard Backx will retire in 2024, succeeded by seasoned executive Hans Huistra, promising continued growth and innovation.

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HZPC Americas welcomes Deron Beck to lead product management, strengthening its North American operations

HZPC Americas Corp. has welcomed Deron Beck as their new Product Manager on December 1st, 2023. Boasting a 15-year background in vegetable research and a Masters in Plant Science, Beck’s expertise lies especially in potato-related work. Beck is set to revolutionize the company’s trial planning and product development. HZPC, leading in seed potato trading, operates with 400 employees in 16 countries.

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From the highlands to high cuisine: Ecuador’s journey with native potatoes

Ecuador is experiencing an agricultural rebirth in the highlands, focusing on native potatoes. With 250,000 tons produced in 2021, small farmers are key. Partnerships between INIAP, CIP, INALPROCES, and AGROPAPA have innovated the market with colored potato chips under the Kiwa brand, leading to 80% export-driven sales increases and economic stability for farmers. This initiative supports local biodiversity and spotlights the need for continued public-private collaboration for industry growth.

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‘Potato perfection’: Breakthrough research by USDA scientists promises year-round high-quality potato supply

Scientists at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) use innovative technology to study the lifecycle of potatoes, ensuring a high-quality supply year-round for various food processing facilities, restaurants, and grocery stores. Challenges faced by potato producers include climate and disease-related issues during crop production and long-term storage. Collaborative efforts with growers and universities aim to address post-harvest physiological challenges and evaluate advanced potato breeding material for improved storage and quality characteristics.

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Spuds in space: China’s pioneering mission to harness cosmic qualities for superior potatoes

Scientists in China have initiated a pioneering project in agriculture by cultivating over 60,000 potato seeds that spent five months in space. These seeds, brought back by the Shenzhou XVI space mission, are being nurtured at the Shangdu Potato Technology Innovation Center in Inner Mongolia. Using advanced techniques like CRISPR, researchers aim to enhance traits such as disease resistance and salt-alkali tolerance.

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Texas A&M Potato Breeding Program highlights market, varietal expansions

At Potato Expo 2024, Dr. Isabel Vales will showcase Texas A&M Potato Breeding Program’s latest advancements, including a heat-tolerant potato clone ideal for Texas. Vales will also discuss the possibility of having a Texas-bred, Texas-grown, and Texas-processed french fry variety and high-yield fresh market varieties like Vanguard Russet and the promising potential of specialty potatoes. The program’s use of genomic selection benefits growers, chip processors, and consumers by predicting desirable traits.

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High Court in India upholds PepsiCo’s patent claim for potato variety used in Lay’s chips

The Delhi High Court upheld PepsiCo’s patent claim for the potato variety used in Lay’s chips. The decision overturned a previous order revoking the patent. PepsiCo had challenged the revocation under the 2001 Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act. The court directed the restoration of PepsiCo’s renewal application to the Registrar for further processing, setting aside the previous order.

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New head of breeding program wants to save Maine potatoes from climate change

Researchers at the University of Maine are using DNA science to develop climate-resilient potatoes for the region. Mario Andrade, the new head of the potato breeding program, plans to focus on heat tolerance and disease resistance. Collaborating with his predecessor, Gregory Porter, Andrade aims to leverage DNA technology for potato breeding, addressing Maine’s concerns about drought and excess moisture. This innovative approach marks a significant shift in agricultural practices.

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Digging deeper into specialty potatoes: Join University of Maine’s interactive presentation and roundtable

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension is hosting an event on January 22 to explore the cultivation and marketing of specialty potato varieties. Featuring a presentation by Brett Johnson and a roundtable discussion for commercial producers, the event aims to share best practices and experiences in this niche market. Open to the public with free entry, it’s a valuable opportunity for those interested in the growing specialty potato market.

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Argentinian scientists develop first Latin American genetically edited potato to prevent enzymatic browning

Argentinian scientists from INTA are set to release Latin America’s first genetically edited potato, developed using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. This innovation, part of Dr. Matías González’s doctoral thesis, aims to inhibit the gene causing enzymatic browning, a process that affects potatoes’ flavor, texture, and nutritional value. The edited potato could significantly reduce food waste and financial losses for farmers and retailers.

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Kenyan scientists developed new GM potato variety free from late blight disease

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.

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Latin America: Uruguay’s potato industry’s family-owned leader shines as a seed potato producer

Vicentina S.A., a trailblazer in Uruguay’s potato industry, celebrated its legacy and innovation at the annual Vicentina Potato Day. The event highlighted the company’s global impact, advancements in seed potato production, and commitment to sustainable practices. “Our ambitions transcend national boundaries, fostering growth regionally and globally on the bedrock of innovation, sustainability, collaboration, and trust,” says Alessandro Mietto, co-founder and partner of Vicentina S.A.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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