Researchers Try to Develop Nutritious, Disease-resistant Potatoes in Colombia
Researchers from Colombia and Canada are working with public and private sector partners to increase production and consumption of nutritious and resistant potatoes across Colombia and beyond.
Malnutrition and iron deficiency are prevalent among many rural Colombians, especially young children. That will change with the introduction of three high quality yellow potato cultivars (Criolla Ocarina, Criolla Sua Pa and Criolla Dorada) selected by farmers, breeders and scientists. In previous field trials, these low-cost varieties delivered higher yields (15%), improved nutrition (double the protein and 20% more iron and zinc than the most cultivated Colombian variety), twice as resistant to late blight disease, higher incomes (18%), better appearance, and strong consumer acceptance, according to International Development Research Center (IDRC).
The next step is to work with farmers of all sizes to make these new potato varieties available to millions of Colombian consumers, particularly those living in the most food insecure regions of the country. The goal is to replace up to half of Colombia’s total yellow potato production with the new varieties.
Campo Vivo, a private venture led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, and the multinational company McCain of Canada, will support seed production and marketing as well as link seed producers and seed buyer organizations. The project will also work directly with 800 small potato farmers (30% of whom are women) and 700 medium and large farmers producing the new yellow potato varieties.
National media campaigns will fuel consumer demand for the varieties throughout Colombia. The results will also be relevant to other Andean countries, particularly Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
Higher yields, reduced production costs, and increased demand of new varieties, resulting in higher incomes for smallholder farmers;
Replacement of up to 50% of Colombia’s total yellow potato production (at least 100,000 tones) with the new varieties;
Availability of more nutritious potatoes to more than 200,000 consumers, with expansion to at least 1.5 million people in Colombia
Development of an education program that combines increased consumption of more nutritious potato varieties with better food habits for 22,000 children in schools of Bogota;
Increased levels of zinc and iron among 80% of children under five years in targeted regions;
Establishment of Training Schools for Family Agriculture to improve knowledge of good agricultural practices, managerial skills, nutrition, sanitation, and inequalities in family roles;
Better informed decision makers leading to improved food security and nutrition policies.