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    Potatoes supply more calories than all other kinds of grain, contain many important vitamins and minerals and are an important source of income for the growers in the rural areas of West Africa. The German development assistance has therefore set itself the task to start the production of potatoes in areas of famine and to increase the yield.

    During the last three years Dr.Kerstin Lindner of the Julius Kuhn Institute (JKI) has seen for herself the production circumstances in the Republic of Benin. Together with Dr.Daniel Chougourou of the Université d'Abomey-Calavi, she researched the status of health of Benin produced potato tubers. Only when one knows what diseases the potatoes suffer from can fitting counter measures be implemented.

    "We have established that the potatoes very often carry the Ralstonia solanacearum bacteria, which is causing slime disease"as per Dr.Lindner. In Europe it's a requirement to report quarantine source of disease;the transfer and spreading of which must be prevented. Other causes of diseases, in which the potatoes in Benin are involved, are Dickeya solani and Pectobacterium atrosepticum.

    The infection with the main potato viruses PVY, PVA, PLRV and PVS is not too bad. In total 20 kg. of potato tubers and a large quantity of green material from potato plants in various growing areas in Benin was researched.

    "The Republic of Benin has already declared that, it is planning to extend the potato area in order to become self-sufficient"Lindner says. "Therefore we have with our research established and important basis for the phytosanitary status of the potatoes."Still some things have to happen locally. "In order to control the slime sickness watering will have to be done differently. Also those involved must attach more value to seed potatoes in order to prevent Dickeya solani. Parallel to the increase in the quantity of potatoes produced, storage capacity is to be increased, which not only is required for the storage, but also for the cooling of the potatoes."

    Source: Freshplaza