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Sweet Potato Scientists Awarded World Food Prize

Three International Potato Center (CIP) scientists, Jan Low, Maria Andrade, and Robert Mwanga, along with Howarth Bouis of HarvestPlus will be awarded the World Food Prize in recognition of their combined success in improving nutrition and health through biofortified crops. The World Food Prize Laureates who will share the $250,000 prize equally. “These four scientists have changed the lives of millions through their efforts,” said CIP Director General Barbara Wells. “They made the case that orange-fleshed sweet potato would be accepted in various African diets, they bred resilient nutritious sweet potatoes that people liked, and now the evidence shows that these communities are healthier as a result.” The World Food Prize, which will be formally awarded in Des Moines, Iowa in October, is the most prominent global award for individuals whose breakthrough achievements alleviate hunger and promote global food security.

New Appointments at World Potato Congress

Douglas Harley of Scotland, a well-recognized potato industry player from the United Kingdom, has been appointed to the board of directors of the World Potato Congress. Harley’s appointment follows the retirement of Albert Wada after an eight-year term as an active member of the WPC board. The board also approved the appointment of two international advisers, Frank Mulcahy of Australia and Kaiyun Xie of China. According to the WPC, all three appointments come at time when the organization is in the process of implementing of a new strategic plan designed to encourage a more proactive role for the Congress in the global potato industry. “The three appointees … will strengthen the board and the international advisory committee while WPC strives to achieve objectives set out in the new strategic plan,” said David Thompson, WPC president and CEO.

Potato Marketer Receives CPMA Award

The Canadian Marketing Produce Association recognized Jennifer Harris, marketing director of Mid-Isle Farms in Albany, P.E.I., with the prestigious Mary Fitzgerald Award at the 91st annual CPMA Convention and Trade Show in Calgary, Alta., in April. The award is presented to an individual with passion and dedication to the produce industry, and Harris was the first ever recipient from the Atlantic Provinces. Harris is responsible for Mid-Isle’s marketing programs, including package design, market information, and branding. According to Mid-Isle Farms, Harris’s passion for the Island’s potato industry is felt throughout the company and by their customers. Rick Birt, Mid-Isle’s general manager, described Harris as “one of the most caring and passionate people that I know in our industry.”


 Mccain Foods Expands New Brunswick Facility

McCain Foods Canada has announced a major investment in its Florenceville-Bristol french fry plant that will expand capability and create 40 to 50 new jobs. The company is adding a new production line to meet growing demands for hash brown patties and similar potato products. The $65-million investment will include a 32,000 square foot expansion to the existing fry plant as well as state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and technology. Jeffery DeLapp, regional president, North America for McCain, said the new line will allow McCain to better meet the needs of its retail and food service customers in Canada and the U.S as well as other export markets. “Hash browns and other specialty products are the fastest-growing segment of the potato market,” he said. “This investment will help us continue to grow our North American and export businesses and just as importantly, allow us to support our customers’ growth targets as well.”

French Fry Facility To Undergo Expansion

ConAgra Foods, Inc. has announced its Lamb Weston business will expand operations at its facility in Richland, Wash., with the addition of a new french fry processing line. The more than $200-million investment is expected to add 128 full-time positions. Lamb Weston’s existing facility in Richland employs approximately 500 people, and was built in 1972. Construction on Lamb Weston’s state-of-the-art processing line is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017. The added line is expected to increase annual processing capacity at the plant by more than 300 million pounds.

U.S. Potatoes Board Changes Name

Members of the US Potato Board approved a new name during the board’s 44th annual meeting in March, voting to change the title — and logo — to Potatoes USA. The organization, now entitled Potatoes USA, continues to exist having as the main objective to strengthen demand for U.S. potatoes, the board said in a statement, on behalf of 2,500 family farms it represents at national and global level. The new strategic plan for Potatoes USA includes the collective input of over 450 members of the U.S. potato industry, Potatoes USA staff and the board’s agency representatives from around the world. Thoughts, ideas, wants, needs and desires were presented and documented over an 18-month period beginning the summer of 2014.


 Wasp Approved to Fight Psyllid in New Zealand

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of New Zealand has approved a type of parasitic wasp as a biological control agent to combat the tomato potato psyllid, which attacks potatoes, tomatoes, capsicums and tamarillos in the country. Biological control agents are natural enemies of a plant or insect pests, and are released to reduce, control or supress those pests. The wasp (Tamarixia triozae) will be introduced and released to kill the tomato potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli). The psyllid, which has impacted crops in several countries, was first discovered in New Zealand in 2006.

Tuber Attacks Triggered By Above-Ground Attacks

Potato plants boost the chemical defences in their leaves when Guatemalan tuber moth larvae feed on their tubers, report researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in Ithaca, N.Y. While the potato’s response may seem counterintuitive, it protects against leaf-eating pests, ensuring that the plant can maintain sugar production, to continue growing tubers during the moth larvae infestation. The study, which was led by BTI Professor Georg Jander and Katja Poveda, assistant professor of entomology at Cornell University, appears in the journal Oecologia. The discovery may one day help reduce potato damage from insect pests and increase tuber yields. Plants must fend off simultaneous attacks from above- and below-ground herbivores, ranging from insects to deer. Scientists are beginning to see patterns in how plants detect and respond to these diverse threats, but no one had investigated how plants signal and respond to tuber attacks.

New Partnership to Develop Better Potatoes for South Asia

The International Potato Center (CIP), global seed potato company HZPC and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) have forged 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.





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