Rwandan growers upbeat about new potato variety

Rwandan potato farmers have welcomed their government’s on-going trials on the use of agricultural biotechnology in producing a new Irish potato variety resistant to the devastating late blight disease. If successful, farmers can grow the new potato variety without necessarily using agro-chemicals.

Late blight, a potentially devastating disease affecting potatoes and tomatoes, infecting leaves, stems, potato tubers and tomato fruits, spreads quickly in fields and can result in total crop failure if untreated. According to the International potato Centre (CIP), in East Africa, the disease can destroy as much as 60-100 per cent of the crop.

The CIP scientists working with Rwanda are using bioengineering to transfer resistance genes from wild potato relatives into varieties that are already popular with farmers and consumers so as to fight the disease.


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