By Ndafadza Madanha
A high yielding Irish and disease free potato seed is set to hit the market early next year after meeting the necessary regulatory approvals.
The potato seed was developed through collaboration between the Korea Programme on International Agriculture and Scientific & Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) and over 20 farmers in Goromonzi area participated in the trials.
Yamurai Magaya executive personnel assistant to KOPIA said the seeds were grown under meristem culture and aeroponics.
She said the seed has potential to reach 40 tonnes a hectare and will bring relief to local farmers who currently have to import potato seed which at times is contaminated.
Current national yield for potatoes stand at 28 tonnes per hectare.
“We are producing disease free and high yielding potato seed through a process known as meristem culture and aeroponics. By meristem culture I mean cutting a small section of the meristamic region of the sprouting potato seed, cassava and sweet potatoes etc under dissection microscope. The plantlets are grown under aeroponics condition. The mini tubers are small potato seeds that can be grown by farmers to produce generation 2,3, 4 disease free potato seed plantlets and have potential to do 40 tonnes plus a hectare”.
Farmers have expressed dismay at the potato seed available on the market as it is contaminated and reduces yields.
The massive propagation of clean potato material will be utilized by both public and private sector players in the production of potato.
Collaboration between KOPIA and SIRDC is expected to achieve a 10% increase in productivity of potatoes produced using seed from the new technology compared to use of conventional methods.
Additionally profits for farmers are expected to increase through the use of the disease free potato seed.