Humble potato hidden treasure unlocked
In many parts of the world, communities face a constant struggle to produce enough food to survive. Harsh climates, large numbers of pests and insects, and a lack of affordable fertilisers and pesticides mean that crop yields are usually far lower in developing countries than they are in places like the Netherlands. One in eight people around the world are chronically hungry, and in the future things may get even worse – the world’s population is expected to increase significantly, and climate change is making it harder than ever to grow healthy crops in more and more regions.
One possible solution to these problems is the potato. As the world’s fourth largest food crop, potatoes are relatively cheap, highly nutritious and low fat, and already eaten and enjoyed in almost all countries. Compared to other crops like rice, corn and wheat, potatoes produce far more food per hectare, and maybe even more important far more food per liter of water used, helping feed large numbers of people while also mitigating the effects of climate change. Unlike the major cereals, potatoes are not a globally traded commodity and therefore are highly recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization for countries seeking to increase their food security.
However, most farmers who want to grow potatoes are unfortunately forced to rely on poor-quality ‘seed tubers’ – specially-grown potato tubers which are used as starting material, but which are easily perishable and are infected with pests and diseases. The result of this is that yields are low. That’s what is limiting potatoes from achieving their full potential.
Solynta’s technology has the potential to help solve all these problems. The True Seed solution which we have developed can deliver potatoes which produce significantly higher yields (doubling yields seems a conservative estimate) than the current seed-tubers used, and which are also more resistant to drought, and require fewer harmful pesticides and fungicides. Our hybrid seeds are completely free of diseases compared to seed-tubers which are almost by definition contaminated with different diseases. True Seeds themselves are also far easier to store and transport than tubers. On average, 25 grams of True Seeds produces the same crop as 2,500 kilos of seed tubers which are apart from bulky quite perishable and difficult to store in developing countries, resulting in significant reductions in transport costs and carbon emissions.
Put simply, using True Seeds, farmers can produce more nutritious food with fewer inputs, and less impact on the environment.