Oct 15, 2021
Late blight-resistant potato variety announced by International Potato Center, Crop Trust

On Oct. 14, the 42nd World Food Day, the Crop Trust and the International Potato Center (CIP) announced the release of a new disease-resistant potato called CIP-Matilde.

The new potato’s resistance to disease will help to counteract the threat of climate change and global warming to conventional potatoes, ensuring this vital food crop remains a staple for future generations. The potato is the third-most important food crop in the world, with hundreds of millions of farmers and consumers depending on it worldwide.

The new potato was developed by farmers, breeders and scientists in Peru by identifying wild potatoes with resistance to disease and incorporating this resistance into cultivated varieties, a process known as pre-breeding. The outcome is a tasty tuber suitable for regular consumption that also withstands late blight, an aggressive disease that can destroy a potato crop in a matter of weeks. Late blight, which is becoming increasingly common due to global warming, poses a serious threat to existing potato crops. The new potato, which has been in development since 2010, should ensure that edible potatoes remain available to humans long-term. At present, late blight costs potato farmers up to $10 billion every year.

“Late blight can destroy everything. It can leave you without enough to eat, to sell, not even enough to use for seed,” said Rolando Papuico, a potato farmer from the Huancayo province, where the CIP-Matilde variety was developed. “I recommend Matilde to other farmers because it produces a lot, the potatoes taste good, boiled, mashed, fried, in soup and late blight doesn’t affect it the way it does other varieties. I’m thankful to have this new variety because now I don’t have to invest so much in agrochemicals.”

CIP-Matilde was developed by the International Potato Center (CIP) with the support of the Crop Trust through its Crop Wild Relatives Project, a 11-year initiative to help agriculture adapt to climate change. The Crop Trust is an international organization based in Bonn, Germany working to safeguard crop diversity for future generations. It supports genebanks, including the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and pre-breeding efforts around the world. CIP is a globally-focused CGIAR research-for-development organization based in Lima, Peru, that aims to deliver innovative science-based solutions to improve access to nutritious food, strengthen food systems and drive inclusive growth.

“Ensuring food and nutrition security under the stress of climate change means we need to harvest the power of the genetic diversity in our midst,” said Barbara Wells, the Director General for CIP and Global Director of Genetic Innovations in One CGIAR. “CIP-Matilde is just one great example of that work — and only the first of many to come.“

“Pathogens, pests and weeds can cause major crop losses, particularly in the developing world,” said Benjamin Kilian, coordinator of the Crop Wild Relatives Project at the Crop Trust. “By adapting our agriculture to these threats, we can help ensure a food-secure future.”






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