Humble potato, hidden value unlocked

We are convinced that the humble potato can play an important role contributing to solve important societal problems. Especially since one can now unlock the hidden potential of the potato by the hybrid breeding technology. Please find below some of our thoughts. Of course we can’t do this on our own, we need all the help we can get. We actively pursue and welcome partnerships to innovate, integrate, exchange and share knowledge and value.

End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Potatoes are in many places on earth the most profitable crop a farmer can produce; by providing excellent and healthy starting material (the single most important prerequisite for an abundant crop) we can more than double the yield in developing countries, and through that help elevate millions of farmers and their families out the poverty trap.

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

The potato produces more nutritious food more quickly, on less land, and in harsher climates than any other major crop – according to the FAO, up to 85 percent of the plant is edible human food, compared to around 50% in cereals.  By  providing excellent and healthy starting material (the single most important prerequisite for an abundant crop) we can more than double the yield in developing countries, helping to significantly reduce hunger.

Even better is our ability to tailor-make new varieties of potato to meet specific needs. This is important because we don’t only need more food, we also need better food. Through fast targeted breeding of improved varieties with beneficial traits like drought- heat-, and salinity- tolerance, and improved nutritional value, we can contribute significantly to fighting malnutrition.

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Potatoes are highly nutritious often more so than fruits and vegetables and contain more of the 21 vitamins and trace elements than any of the other 4 staple crops. Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, making them a good source of energy. They have the highest protein content (around 2.1 percent on a fresh weight basis) in the family of root and tuber crops, and this protein of a fairly high quality, with an amino-acid pattern that is well matched to human requirements. They are also very rich in vitamin C – a single medium-sized potato contains about half the recommended daily intake – and contain a fifth of the recommended daily value of potassium. Solynta by now being able to specially and accurately breed varieties with improved nutritional value traits like (beta) carotene or vitamins and trace elements or an improved GI, which will contribute to an easy healthy diet.

The potato is nowadays already a highly recommended food security crop (FAO2008)

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Agriculture consumes more than 2/3 of total available freshwater through irrigation. Depletion of water reserves could cause a 40% supply gap by 2030.

Potatoes produce more dietary energy from the same amount of water than rice, wheat and corn  An increase in the proportion of potato in the diet would alleviate pressure on water resources. By making the crop more profitable investments in irrigation make sense preventing unnecessary water

By breeding natural resistances into the crop there will be a significant reduction (>60%) of pesticide use and therefor limit the runoff of pesticides into the water system.

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Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

“Rural women provide most of the labour in both small- and large-scale potato production – from conservation and seed selection to planting, harvesting, storing and marketing” (FAO 2008)

By increasing the importance of the crop the potato can contribute to improve the position of women. By making the crop more profitable for the farmer families, they are increasingly able to send the children, especially their daughters to school, improving the girls prospects for a better future

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Waste in the supply chain will be considerable lower because true-seeds are far easier to store and transport. True-seeds are unlike seed-tubers not perishable.

Breeding for specific favourable processing traits, like specific shape, bruising tolerance, storability, the waste in the potato chipping chain will be considerable lower.

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

25grams true-potato-seeds is logistically far superior to 2500 kilo bulky and perishable seed-tubers, easier to transport, easier to store and less waste. Varieties with natural resistance reduces pesticide needs with over 60%, and pesticide production is a large contributor of greenhouse gases and pesticide itself is not very friendly to the environment. We can now at unprecedented speed, breed varieties with are specially resilient to change in climate and varieties with double the yield or even more in developing countries producing more with less.

True potato seeds are a solution for one of the biggest potential food problems in India namely that with the rise of temperature of another 1-1.5oC India is no longer able to  produce seed-tubers putting 27B kilo potato at risk (prof Swaminathan)

Potato is one of the few crops which will have higher yields if greenhouse gas levels rise and it grows in harsher climates and as such increases the resilience to climate chance. With hybrid breeding when can develop this even further by breeding for example for heat-, salinity-, drought-tolerance.

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

The growing population needs more room to live, but we need also more room to provide for food.

The potato is already very efficient by providing more nutritious food per m2  than any other major food crop. By breeding and  true seeds supply we can increase yield significant, for example more than doubling the yield in developing countries.