Potatoes grown from plant seeds have yielded two to four times greater harvests for small-scale farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa.
Dutch agri-tech company Solynta said that the successful trials of experimental varieties grown from seed had raised hopes of a better food source for not only the growing population of Africa, but also those of India, Bangladesh, and China.
The millions of small-scale farmers in Africa who grow potatoes usually buy their seed potatoes on the local market, where they are often of poor quality due to poor propagation, storage and distribution.
High quality seed potatoes from the EU are expensive and can take a long time to reach African soil.
Solynta’s general director Hein Kruyt said: “We are able to send an envelope full of good, clean seed instead of a container within 24 hours for farmers to use to get started on their harvest.”
Due to the potential benefit of its research to the global food supply, Solynta has received a €2.5m grant under the Horizon 2020 programme, and it hopes to bring the first marketable potato varieties to the market in 2021.
Kruyt added: “Keep in mind that this experiment wasn’t even conducted with our best seeds – just think of what kind of yield those could produce.”