In line with the Ethiopia-Netherlands Seed Partnership (ENSP), the Solynta and PepsiCo’s Ethiopia-based foods unit, Senselet Food Processing PLC, launched a project to introduce hybrid true potato seeds to Ethiopia, according to a release from Solynta. The hope is that the two parties will enrich and expand the country’s growing potato sector with the introduction of advanced potato genetics from Solynta.
Hybrid potato breeding enables the ability to focus on breeding desirable traits, such as pest resistance and hardiness, to improve food security and ensure a more sustainable income for local farmers. Through the project will be undertaken over the next three years, Ethiopian researchers and farmers will test hybrid true potato seeds under local conditions to ensure their success. In addition, Solynta and PepsiCo will work with the Ethiopian authorities to establish a legal framework for the import of hybrid true potato seeds, the registration of the varieties and certification of hybrid true potato seed seed tubers.
“Our teams will develop with farmers the best practices, for Ethiopian conditions, for sowing true seeds, raising seedlings, and transplanting seedlings into the field to grow a healthy crop,” said Charles Miller, director of business development at Solynta, in the release. “Hybrid breeding drives the rapid development of new high-yielding, multi-resistant potato cultivars. These will significantly affect crop practices, productivity and reliance on pesticides.”
Since the establishment of Senselet in Ethiopia in 2017, the company has worked to form strong partnerships with local farmers and commercial partners. Under this new agreement, public and private researchers, officials, Extension workers and farmers will all be trained to grow hybrid true potato seeds.
“This investment will further allow us to leverage PepsiCo’s global expertise to boost the business’ potato sourcing programs, as well as its manufacturing and go-to-market capabilities. The potential market for chips here is much larger than the existing market, and as such, there is a great need for more higher quality potato products,” said Chris Wijnterp, general manager of Senselet after an investment from PepsiCo to expand business further in Ethiopia. “We want to help build a more sustainable food system in Ethiopia by meeting human needs while bolstering global economic and social development within the planet’s natural boundaries.”
The project aligns closely with the goals of the ENSP, which was established by both countries’ governments to strengthen the seed sector in Ethiopia. The main goal of the ENSP is to “enable the private sector in Ethiopia to deliver farming men and women high-quality seed of improved varieties much needed for food security and nutrition, and climate resilience.”
“Solynta is excited to enrich Ethiopian farming practices by learning from local farmers about their unique practices. By providing high-quality starting material, we are providing smallholder producers with the tools they need to achieve success,” Miller said. “Introducing our hybrid true potato seeds (HTPS) will guarantee clean starting material and help farmers overcome environmental challenges posed by disease and seed tuber transport. Through this partnership, we are dedicated to uplifting farmers by enhancing existing agronomic practices through grassroots training and capacity building.”