Two leading research institutions have partnered to help increase potato production in the Philippines, in order to meet the increasing demand for the commodity that is also fuelled by the proliferation of more fast food establishments in the country.
Through its National Technology Commercialization Program, the Department of Agriculture- Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) is supporting the Northern Philippines Root Crops Research and Training Center (NPRCRTC) based at the Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet, in producing high-yielding potato varieties for growing by farmers initially in Mountain Province.
The NPRCRTC’s project is the “Commercialization and Promotion of Processing Potato Varieties through Rapid Multiplication Technique in Potato Growing Areas,” which has so far produced 30,000 stem cuttings from 7,000 tissue-cultured mother plants.
According to Ines Gonzales, project leader, the use of the planting materials will, in the long run, help reduce the country’s importation of potatoes for processing.
“Quality clean planting materials, in the form of rooted cuttings or tuber seed pieces, are sourced from mother plants propagated through tissue culture. Of great importance to agriculture is that potatoes harvested from tissue culture-derived planting materials can be double or even triple the yield of those produced with the use of traditional planting materials and varieties,” DA-BAR said in a statement.
Among the available potato varieties, the varieties “Igorota” and “Bengueta” patatas are considered the best by Cordillera farmers because these are well-adapted to their localities, are high yielding, resistant to late blight, and have favorable eating qualities. The two varieties have been approved by the National Seed Industry Council.
Sixty farmer-beneficiaries of the project have already been trained on how to manage clean planting materials before they were given stem cuttings as their initial source of planting materials. The beneficiaries are potato growers from the municipalities of Atok, Madaymen, Buguias, and Mankayan in Benguet; and in Bauko and Besao in Mountain Province.