World Review

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Peru

Peru’s farmers are able to access a greater diversity of potato varieties for climate adaptation, thanks to the continued work of a groundbreaking agreement between the International Potato Center (CIP), the Peruvian NGO known as Andes, and the Association of the Potato Park Communities.

In the Peruvian highlands near Cusco, climate change has already had a substantial impact on potato production. Rising temperatures have been correlated with increased pests and diseases, making it difficult for farmers to grow potatoes.

Potato harvest in the Andes. Photo: International Potato Center.

The effects of these temperature changes are very pronounced in the Potato Park, a valley outside of Cusco, where just 30 years ago, cultivation of native potato was routinely done at 3,800 metres. Now, native potato cultivation starts at around 4,000 metres. In just 30 years, challenges associated with a warming climate have pushed potato cultivation up by 200 metres.

In addition to moving to higher elevation for potato cultivation, Quechua farmers in the Potato Park are also responding to this challenge by stewarding over 1,440 cultivars of native potato. These include their own varieties plus cultivars that different entities have provided to the Park, 410 of which have come from CIP. The five communities that make up the Potato Park are also working with CIP scientists in the characterization of potato diversity, monitoring changes in potato varieties used over time and testing of varieties in different parts of the landscape, a combined territory of over 9,000 hectares.

“The landmark agreement between CIP and the Potato Park for repatriation and monitoring of native potatoes represents a fundamental shift in approach. Rather than only collecting crops from farmers, scientists have also given farmers crops from their gene bank in return,” says Alejandro Argumedo, director of programs for Andes. “The disease-free seeds and scientific knowledge gained have boosted food security, and the new varieties have enhanced income, enabling the communities to develop novel food products.”

Source: International Potato Center

Vietnam

PepsiCo Foods Vietnam Company (PFVC) has signed a first-of-its-kind memorandum of understanding with Vietnam’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Phivang Collaboration of Farmers to introduce a sustainable contract potato farming model to that country. The agreement will benefit around 50 small-scale farmers in Lam Dong Province, Vietnam.

As part of the MOU, PFVC will agree on a fixed price for the purchase of potatoes from Phivang Collaboration of Farmers at the start of each growing season. This gives assurances to farmers that they have a buyer for their potatoes and at a price that is not subject to market fluctuations.

DARD will provide financial assistance to members of the co-operative to purchase seeds and other inputs for the growing season. Finally, the Phivang Collaboration of Farmers will unite farmers to negotiate a secure and stable contract with PepsiCo and provide a forum for farmers to exchange growing techniques.

In addition, PFVC will provide technical agronomy support to the farmers through sharing best practices on techniques to improve yields, save water and promote sustainable agriculture.

“Annually, PepsiCo sources more than four million tons of potatoes from thousands of local farmers across the globe, and our success depends on securing sustainable supply chains for our key raw materials,” says Huy Nguyen Duc, general manager of PepsiCo Foods Vietnam Company.

“Along with our partners, DARD and the Phivang Collaboration of Farmers, we want to use our combined experience and know-how to work with potato farmers in Vietnam and to play a positive role in the success of sustainable contract farming across Vietnam.”

Source: PepsiCo Asia Pacific

Rwanda

Plans are underway to construct an Irish potato processing plant in Musanze District of Rwanda to cut down post-harvest losses, according to Tony Nsanganira, Rwanda’s minister for agriculture. “The processing plant will help transform Irish potatoes into chips and flour,” he says.

A feasibility study for the multimillion processing plant has been conducted by a Korean company and construction is expected to be completed by this June. More than 70,000 Rwandans farm Irish potatoes, and it is expected that they will be able to supply all of the processing plant’s needs once it is in place.

Irish potatoes are cultivated on a large scale in northwestern Rwanda, and during bumper harvests, the production per hectare reaches between 20 and 30 tonnes, according to officials.

Source: All Africa

Ireland

TOMRA Sorting in Dublin, Ireland, has created a new centre of excellence for its food optical sorting and peeling business, and is set to improve its research and development capabilities after moving to a new facility in the Citywest business park.

TOMRA Sorting Food is one of the largest companies in the food sorting equipment sector, with more than than 150 applications including potatoes, vegetables, fruit, dried fruit, seafood, nuts and seeds. The Dublin office is responsible for the development of whole product sorting and peeling equipment aimed at increasing yield and productivity and enhancing food safety for the global food industry.

The new facility will include office, workshop and demonstration space as well as a peeling process development lab, an advanced optics lab and a sorting test facility.

Source: TOMRA Sorting Solutions

United States

Scientists with the United States Department of Agriculture have helped develop a number of nutritious new potatoes varieties with red and purple flesh and skin.

The most-eaten U.S. vegetable, phytonutrient-rich potatoes can have a strong impact on human health, according to USDA Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Charles Brown, who has bred the three unique red- and purple-pigmented potato varieties at ARS’s Vegetable and Forage Crops Research Laboratory in Prosser, Washington.

Brown worked on developing and evaluating the varieties as a contributing partner with the Northwest (Tri State) Potato Variety Development Program. Getting the colourful potatoes to consumers has taken decades.

Brown and his colleagues analyzed and compared concentrations of phytochemicals in yellow- and purple-pigmented potatoes and in white potatoes in a study. The team reported that purple potatoes had a 20-fold greater concentration of anthocyanins than yellow potatoes. No detectable amounts of anthocyanins were found in white potatoes.

In the same study, the team also compared sensory evaluations of pigmented potatoes with those of white potatoes. When a consumer panel ranked yellow, purple and white potatoes, no significant differences in flavour or in overall acceptance were observed.

The three new potato varieties with coloured flesh now available to consumers are TerraRosa, Amarosa and Purple Fiesta (also known as Purple Pelisse). They perform well across a variety of preparation methods such as baking, roasting, microwaving, steaming and mashing.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

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