Issue of January 13, 2019
     
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More ‘french fries’ potato variety eyed in P77-M study

Through a study, the Cordillera is hoping to increase the seedling production of the “processing” potato variety by at least 25 percent and supply more potatoes to the “french fries” requirement of food chains.

The research is a three-year project which, when completed, will increase the volume of quality seeds by 25 percent and eventually improve the yield of the processing potato variety by 25 percent, said Dr. Nancy Bantog, regional director of the Department of Science and Technology.

Bantog said the Benguet State University and the Northern Philippines Root Crops Research and Training Center (NPRCRTC) are seeking an institutional grant support of P77.7 million under the DOST’s Niche Centers in the Regions (Nicer) facility.

The research will upgrade potato research and development facilities and enhance their capacity and capability to undertake advanced research, development and innovations in support of the production of quality potato seed tubers.

Bantog said 86 percent of potato production in the country comes from the region, which has been declining due to problems on the availability and cost of quality potato tubers.

She said the decline in the available seedlings has led to average annual importation of 243,304 metric tons of potatoes to be able to meet the domestic demand.

“The establishment of a niche center on potato research and development at BSU will significantly improve the region’s potato industry, contributing not only to increased incomes of local farmers, but also to national development through savings in foreign exchange as a result of reduced importation of potatoes,” Bantog said.

The Nicer facility under the Science for Change (S4C) program provides institutional grants to academic institutions for projects involving collaborative research and development on the region’s basic commodities.

Potato is one of Cordillera’s top agricultural products.

The research will focus on the production of seedlings for the “processing” potato variety, which is used for french fries. The common variety used in cooking is the “table potato” variety, which is not suited for french fries due to its “wet” qualities.

To date, Bantog said Cordillera is only able to produce 17 percent of the “processing” variety which the research hopes to address by increasing the supply of quality seedlings.

Bantog said the three-year project has five components – biotech-assisted methods in nurturing the quality of potato seed production; enhancing micro propagation system of true or type potato varieties; application of improved cultivation system to enhanced foundation seed production; increasing productivity and quality seeds through the improved storage interventions; and operationalizing the formal seed production system.

“The overall goal of the project is to enhance quality potato seed production through application of advanced science and technology intervention that will increase the processing potato,” Bantog said.

“We are targeting to supply the seedling requirement and increase the current 15 tons per hectare yield to 20 tons,” she added.

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