Thursday, 21 September 2017


The Chinese Government and leading potato processing company Xisen Potato Group are investing GBP3m in the collaboration with James Hutton Limited (JHL) to breed new varieties and research resistance to pests and diseases, tuber storage and potato processing. 

The shared facility is likely to be located in China’s Shandong province. A top-level delegation from Xisen attended the Potatoes in Practice (PiP) event at Balruddery farm on the outskirts of Dundee, according to

Professor Ian Toth said James Hutton Institute scientists would work together with Chinese researchers and share ideas between Scotland and China.

“We’re still talking about how we will do it, but there’s GBP3m of Chinese money to get the lab up and running and we have high hopes that it will cement the relationship between us and move it forward in the future,” he said.

Potato industry representatives, growers and influencers from all over the UK and beyond were present at Potatoes in Practice (PiP) 2017 on August 10.PiP is a technical potato field event featuring a high-standard mix of science, technology and practical advice and the largest of its type in the UK.

Attendees could review crop varieties and the results of new crop treatments. They also attended live machinery demonstrations and discovered the latest research on current issues impacting on the farming industry, as well as networking with colleagues, suppliers and experts.

The seminar program focused on four key subjects: market intelligence; apps and diagnostic tools; late blight and agronomy. The market intelligence session featured a talk by David Swales, AHDB Head of Strategic Insight, who spoke about the challenges and opportunities for the potato industry related to Brexit, and a consumer trends update.  

UPDATE: Xisen Group head of management, Dr Hu Baigeng, said the laboratory would be established in China’s Shandong province with funding from Xisen Group and expected to be matched by the Chinese government. Dr Jonathan Snape, James Hutton Limited’s commercial director, added that the collaboration builds on longstanding links between the two organizations. 

It is envisaged that the new laboratory will focus on five key subjects:

  • Processing, focusing on development of new products and technology for potato-related staple foods;
  • Storage technology to reduce losses and improve tuber physiology;
  • Genetics and breeding, focusing on germplasm innovation and new variety selection;
  • Disease control, with emphasis on the detection of key soil-borne diseases such as common scab, powdery scab and black scurf;
  • Seed technology, including disease detection and aeroponics.

Also at the event was a delegation of Indian potato industry representatives, headed by Dr Anand Kumar Singh of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, who expressed an interest in collaborating to improve the quality of the country’s potato production.

Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, commented: “Potato is the third most important food crop in the world after rice and wheat; more than a billion people worldwide eat potato. We are delighted to build on our international links, which already span the five continents, and establish new collaborations in such topical subjects as breeding, genetics, pest and disease resistance and sustainable production systems.”

Related articles: 

SCOPE Receives EUR1m to Research Potato Crop Disease 

A Research Consortium Studies Potato Greening 

Boise State Researchers Awarded IGEM Grant to Combat Potato Rot

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