First Successful Trial of True Potato Seed Shows Great Potential

Solynta's true potato seeds
Solynta's true potato seeds. Photo: Solynta

A pilot trial of true potato seed in Angonia District, Tete province in Mozambique has shown great potential too drastically improve and innovate potato production in the area, Solynta says in a news release on Oct. 16.

Between August 2019 and April 2020 Solidaridad Mozambique and Solynta executed the first hybrid True Potato Seed field trial ever in Mozambique — growing potatoes from true seeds rather than traditional seed potatoes, the release says. The seedlings were raised in trays for six weeks, after which they were transplanted to farmers’ fields.

Solynta provided several hybrid seed varieties to assess adaptability as well as technical advice. Solidaridad Mozambique trained and supported farmers in applying good farming practices, including soil management, fertilizing and crop protection, the report says. Several local institutions, such as Universidade Unizambezi, supported the initiative.

“The results are very encouraging — average yields of the three varieties ranged from 8.5 MT/ha to as much as 25.9 MT/ha in comparison to the yields of 8 MT/ha of local control varieties,” Mandla Nkomo, managing director of Solidaridad Southern Africa, says in the release.

Angonia in the western part of Mozambique is the main potato production region in that country, with around 63,000 farmers producing around 90 per cent of the Mozambican potatoes. As in most other African countries, potato consumption in Mozambique is increasing rapidly, the release notes.

“If our pilot results are replicated in local farmer fields production of potatoes in Mozambique can be increased more than 50 per cent. This will help to reduce dependence on imported ware potatoes as well as help to develop a local supply of quality seed.” Charles Miller, commercial director at Solynta, says in the release.

Solynta’s innovation of hybrid potatoes makes it possible to distribute new varieties from botanic seed instead of seed potatoes. This technology makes it possible to rapidly develop new potato varieties with a higher nutritional value and attuned to specific local or regional needs.

True potato seeds also have major logistical benefits as 25 grams of true seed is comparable to 2,500 kg of seed tubers. True seed is easier to store and cheaper to transport, making it easier to access for smallholder families in remote areas. It is also disease free which is not the case with traditional seed potatoes.

Solidaridad will expand their collaboration in Angonia with the hope of launching this new system in the near future, the release says.


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