Declining potato consumption by Americans has Texas A&M AgriLife Research breeders working on “designer” spuds that meet the time constraints and unique tastes of a younger generation. “So what we are doing now is developing unique varieties that have a tendency to appeal to the younger set with high income who are willing to try something different,” says Creighton Miller, an AgriLife Research potato breeder. “This has contributed to an increase in consumption of these types over the russets, which are still the standard.”
Miller says the potato breeding program is trying to develop improved varieties adapted specifically to environmental conditions in Texas. “However, some of our varieties are widely adapted across the U.S.,” he adds. “Three of them collectively represent the fifth largest number of acres certified for seed production in the U.S., so we’ve released some successful varieties, and we are developing more all the time.”
Other varieties catching more attention are red potatoes with yellow and white flesh and purple-skinned potatoes with yellow flesh. The tubers with yellow flesh contain compounds that are antioxidants, and that appeals to the health-conscious consumer, Miller says. “So in addition to having the unique appearance, they are healthier potatoes.”
Also this year, the program offers specialty potatoes with splashes of red and yellow on the skin that have a yellow flesh. “These are referred to as gourmet potatoes and that niche is receiving more emphasis lately,” Miller says. “These are generally boiled and add unique colour to the plate when served.”
Miller points out that the russet potato is still the primary emphasis of the program, adding a new russet will soon be released for commercial production. “It promises to be very successful,” he says.
Source: Texas A&M Agrilife
As potatoes are highly susceptible to climate change, researchers at Neiker-Tecnalia, an agricultural research and development institute in Spain, are looking for potato genes that best adapt to anticipated climate changes, characterized by reduced rainfall and increased extremes in hot and cold temperatures.
As part of the PAPACLIMA project developed by an international consortium, the purpose of this research is to identify the most resistant genes to create new potato varieties that will adapt to future climate conditions. The research also seeks to find out how the current potato varieties will behave in an environment with increased drought and more temperature extremes.
The consortium is comprised of Neiker-Tecnalia and research and development centres and universities in Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica.
Commercial varieties, native potatoes from South America, old varieties from the Canary Islands and wild species are all being studied as part of the project. Neiker-Tecnalia has evaluated how these varieties behave with respect to drought and high and low temperatures through field trials and under controlled conditions in greenhouses. In all these trials, identical potatoes were sown in order to compare their production under different environmental conditions. Researchers analyzed output, chlorophyll and water content.
Neiker-Tecnalia technicians gathered genetic information on the varieties as each was subjected to adverse conditions of drought, cold and heat. This enabled researchers to observe which genes are expressed when the plant is under a specific stress. Identifying these genes is believed to be an essential first step towards developing new varieties that will adapt to future climate conditions. It also constitutes essential information to find out how the current varieties will behave when faced with the effects of climate change.
The Czech Republic aims to return to self-sufficiency in traditional fruit and vegetable production. The country’s minister of agriculture recently announced that the Czech Republic will support national fruit, vegetable and potato producers with an assistance package worth a quarter of a billion Czech crowns (the equivalent of $1.3 million in Canadian currency).
Beginning in 2015, Czech fruit and vegetable producers will receive 100 million crowns in financial assistance, while potato producers will receive 50 million crowns. Producers will also benefit from a rural development program that supports greenhouse and warehouse construction and technology purchases.
While self-sufficiency in major products from animals increased in 2013, Czech fresh fruit and potato production had declined considerably, according to the minister. Almost 30 per cent of potatoes consumed in the Czech Republic were imported in 2013, along with nearly a quarter of total consumed fruit. More than 60 per cent of other vegetables consumed by Czechs were also imported into the country.
Source: Government of the Czech Republic
Russia’s ambassador to Bangladesh has proposed constructing a cold store in Chittagong, Bangladesh, to export disease-free potatoes to Russia.
“Potato exports from Bangladesh to Russia are on the rise,” explains Alexander Nikolaev. “But Bangladesh needs to check sanitary and phytosanitary measures strictly to increase potato exports to Russia.”
According to Nikolaev, “Now is a good time to increase Bangladesh’s export volumes to Russia as some countries have imposed sanctions on Russia. If the Bangladesh government allows construction of the cold store, Russian potato importers will help in tests on the crop, reserved in the cold storage.”
In addition, Bangladesh has an opportunity to export garment items, jute and jute goods, shrimps, leather, home textile and ceramics items, he says.
“Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and the Russian Federation will cross the $1 billion mark at the end of 2014,” Nikolaev says. “Bilateral trade was $807 million at the end of the current year.”
Source: The Daily Star
DuPont India is working with McCain Foods to implement the Global Good Agricultural Practices Farm Assurer Certification Program with its contract farmers.
The program is designed to help potato farmers follow Good Agricultural Practices to ensure food, worker and environmental safety while enhancing harvest quality and marketability.
“This is an innovative platform to empower McCain contract farmers,” says Abinash Gupta, McCain Foods India agro-director. “By encouraging farmers to follow good practices in agronomy and integrated pest management, the program enables sustainable production of potatoes — a win-win for farmers, stakeholders, the environment and the community.”
Source: The Times of India