Mar 8, 2023
Companies introduce hybrid true potato seeds to Ethiopia

Hybrid potato breeding company Solynta is partnering with Senselet Food Processing PLC, PepsiCo’s Ethiopia-based foods unit, to introduce hybrid true potato seeds to Ethiopia.

Hybrid breeding enables focused breeding of desirable traits such as pest resistance and hardiness, which helps improve food security and generate income for local farmers.

The partnership will introduce advanced potato genetics using the Netherlands-based Solynta’s non-GMO breeding technology. During the next three years, Ethiopian researchers and private farmers will test HTPS under local conditions.

Staff from the Ethiopia-Netherlands Seed Partnership project visit Nunhems and Solagrow PLC, two cutting-edge seed producing companies in Ethiopia. Photo: ENSP

“Our teams will develop with farmers the best practices for Ethiopian conditions for sowing true seeds, raising seedlings and transplanting seedlings into the field to grow a healthy crop,” Charles Miller, Solynta director of business development, said in a statement on the company’s website. “Hybrid breeding drives the rapid development of new high-yielding, multi-resistant potato cultivars. These will significantly affect crop practices, productivity and reliance on pesticides.”

Solynta and PepsiCo will work with Ethiopian authorities to establish the legal framework for the import of HTPS, the registration of HTPS varieties and the certification of HTPS seed tubers.

The agreement also provides training for public and private researchers, officials, Extension workers and farmers. Participants include researchers and officials of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research in Addis Ababa and Amhara Agricultural Research Institute in Bahir Dar.

The partnership aligns with the goals of the Ethiopia-Netherlands Seed Partnership, established by the governments of both countries to strengthen the seed sector in Ethiopia.

Senselet was established in Ethiopia in 2017. PepsiCo, the leading Ethiopian potato processing company, is based in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. The Solynta partnership follows recent news of its $40 million cash injection to expand its business in Ethiopia.

“This investment will further allow us to leverage PepsiCo’s global expertise to boost the business’ potato sourcing programs, as well as its manufacturing and go-to-market capabilities,” Chris Wijnterp, Senselet general manager, said. “The potential market for chips here is much larger than the existing market, and as such, there is a great need for more higher-quality potato products.

“We want to help build a more sustainable food system in Ethiopia by meeting human needs while bolstering global economic and social development within the planet’s natural boundaries.”

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