International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

BSF Project - Third Cycle

Exchanging and Developing Biodiverse Potato Varieties in Peru, Nepal and Bhutan
Where are we working?
Potato is a major staple across the Peruvian Andes and the high Himalayas–Hindu Kush regions, where and extreme weather events and shifts in pest and disease pressures significantly impact crop production and food security. Moreover, approximately 50% of all children suffer from anemia.
This Benefit-sharing Fund project is addressing climate change, food security, nutrition, and the sustainable use of potato diversity by equipping farmers with adapted varieties and the knowledge and capacity to grow them. It specifically explores biofortification as a viable food-based strategy for reducing levels of malnutrition among the rural population.

What are we doing?
  • Improving the generation and accessibility of potato genetic diversity with enhanced nutritional quality and key resistance traits, particularly micronutrient density and resistance to potato late blight (LB) disease;
  • Building capacity in the exchange, evaluation, and documentation of genetic resources, including the use of open-access databases and Mother–Baby trial (MBT) for participatory varietal selection (PVS);
  • Accelerating release of varieties preferred by farmers and consumers and ensuring farmers’ early access to biodiverse and locally adapted robust varieties;
  • Exchange visits and training of farmers and researchers in how to access appropriate genetic resources for use in breeding and variety development from CIP and other sources;
  • Knowledge transfer to farmer communities and national agricultural research systems (NARS) in all three countries;
  • Widening the genetic base of potato by sharing and testing potato varieties in project countries;/li>
  • Strengthening resilience of potato-growing communities in highland environments who face food security threats from increasing temperatures and diminishing water resources.

What has been achieved to date?
Bhutanese, Nepalese, and Peruvian farmers have benefitted from the introduction of LB-resistant potatoes. In Bhutan, where LB is a major issue, a resistant variety (CIP-392797.22) was released. This variety has shown great yield potential of 27–42 t/ha in trials. The variety is becoming popular as it is red-skinned and oblong, traits that are preferred by growers and consumers alike. In Peru two LB-resistant clones have been selected through PVS and will be promoted for variety release. Six biofortified clones have been selected in Peru for further participatory evaluation using MBT.
Widening of the genetic base of potato in Nepal and Bhutan by introducing diverse germplasm has been very successful. This plant genetic material has been conserved, multiplied, shared, and utilized among NARS to improve potato programs in both countries. The elite materials have been tested through PVS. Preferences for particular traits by different stakeholder (researchers, extension workers, farmers, traders, and consumers) have allowed the refinement of breeding objectives. Exposure visits and training for researchers and farmers have enhanced the knowledge and skills of potato production and development. National and international exchange visits have provided ways to share knowledge among farmers and researchers, revealing best practices from each site. Farm households have been capacitated and rendered more resilient to climate change, specifically due to increased yield stability from the use of new robust varieties in the context of extreme weather events.

Who has benefited?
The use of PVS ensures a direct dialogue and thus participation of farmers in the selection of new high yielding, resilient, and biodiverse varieties, and indirectly benefits retailers, processors, and seed producers. Better access to potato varieties with high levels of iron and zinc will improve physical and mental health conditions of vulnerable populations, permitting higher productivity and contributing in turn to poverty alleviation. Gender-balanced stakeholder groups, including farmers, researchers, and extension workers, have benefited from training on selection of high-yielding, locally adapted, LB-resistant, and iron- and zinc-dense clones through participatory trials.

Best practices and success stories
The project’s activities have increased access to and availability of stable-yielding potato varieties that are disease resistant, robust, and nutrient dense. The food security of vulnerable communities and farmers is enhanced because of the successful and fast release of new potato varieties. The project has strengthened farmer’s capacity to confront common challenges (e.g., pests, diseases, and abiotic stresses due to climate change scenarios). Potato varieties introduced from CIP with different attributes have added to the genetic base of potato in Nepal and Bhutan. The advanced-level clones are being multiplied and tested in NARS.
Stakeholders were trained in participatory selection for traits in CIP clone varieties of their choice at different stages of crop growth (i.e., flowering, harvesting, and postharvest stages). Stakeholders were also intensively trained in LB management of susceptible, moderately resistant, and resistant clones and varieties to build awareness and expand best practices of reducing pesticide use.
Window 2 - Immediate action projects
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Target Countries: Bhutan, Nepal, Peru
Implementing institution: International Potato Center (CIP)

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