Better Potatoes for Farmers in the Tropics

Most potato varieties that are preferred by consumers and processors - for instance, those serving as a basis for crisps, chips or mash – are bred for temperate regions in the ‘global North’. They perform poorly under subtropical and tropical conditions with higher minimum temperatures and greater disease pressure. However, the crop’s high yield potential, input use efficiency, and readily consumable products make potato an interesting option for smallholders worldwide.

With this in mind, we have initiated the first ever crop breeding Public-Private Partnership (PPP) involving the International Potato Research Center (CIP), linking them with the Dutch seed potato company HZPC to develop superior varieties for the Tropics. The partnership will cross high-yielding commercial varieties from HZPC with CIP’s heat-tolerant and virus-resistant tropical clones. The result will be new processing and table potatoes serving the needs of smallholder farmers. The PPP will also set standards in licensing and benefit-sharing between public and private partners. Royalties from seed sales will go into the benefit-sharing fund of The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. This is expected to encourage both further PPPs and the private sector to invest in improved smallholder-friendly crops.