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Potato experts link up to improve varieties for South Asia

The International Potato Center, global seed potato company HZPC and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture have announced a new partnership to develop better potatoes for tropical and subtropical conditions. (Courtesy: HZPC)

The International Potato Center (CIP), global seed potato company HZPC and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) have announced a new partnership. Their joint aim is to develop better potatoes for tropical and subtropical conditions.

CIP and HZPC will combine their experience and resources to breed and select potato varieties suitable for local markets in South Asia. SFSA will provide support. This public-private partnership demonstrates the organizations’ joint aim of raising the quality and quantity of food production for a growing world population.

Under the agreement, CIP and HZPC will focus on research and development. HZPC will also apply its strength in the commercialization of potato varieties and seed potatoes; CIP will contribute its know-how in the development of varieties for sustainable production in the tropics. Both HZPC and CIP are contributing potato germplasm to the endeavor. Their scientists will aim to find the best combination of traits from HZPC potatoes for temperate regions and CIP’s varieties adapted for tropical lowlands and smallholder farmers. Improved, market-preferred varieties will enable smallholders to raise their yields and income. The breeding program is intended to run for five years.

As well as helping improve farmers’ livelihoods, the partnership is also breaking new ground in connection with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Plant Treaty). It is the first such agreement in which partners have committed to contributing a percentage of the income from royalties to the Treaty’s benefit-sharing fund.

Barbara Wells, CIP Director General:
 

“It’s a privilege to combine forces with HZPC in benefiting smallholder farmers in the developing world.”

The Plant Treaty is an international agreement with 139 signatory countries. Its aim is to guarantee food security through the conservation, exchange and sustainable use of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. CIP maintains and distributes its germplasm all over the world in accordance with this treaty.

Mike Robinson, Chief Scientist for the SFSA:
 

“We are excited to be a part of this effort to deliver improved tropical potato varieties that fulfil a need in all sectors and are resilient to biotic and abiotic stresses.”
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