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Argentina provides Cuba with potato genetic material

A technical team from the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) in Argentina shared information about harvest and postharvest mechanization technologies to increase and improve the varietal diversity of potato production in Cuba.
According to the INTA, as part of the cooperation efforts made Argentina's Foreign Ministry, a team of specialists from this institution participated in a task force in the city of Havana to mechanise potato crops. The team, accompanied by technicians from IAgric, visited production sites and conducted an initial assessment of the crop's situation and problems through the country. Marcelo Huarte, seed production and potato specialist from the INTA, said that one of the objectives of the trip was "to share information on the implementation of harvest and postharvest technologies to improve potato production."

In Cuba, the potato is a highly valued food. "Even when we have tried to replace it with other species such as the taro, sweet potato or cassava, the tuber still has an important place among consumers," Huarte said. According to Sebastian Borraci, INTA technical member of the study some years ago, the cultivated area was five times higher than at present (3,200 hectares). "This drop is mainly caused by the lack of potatoes, so the INTA will provide Argentine genetic material and perform behavioural assessments to increase the varietal diversity on the island," Borracci said.

One of the main challenges that Cuba faces will be to reduce their dependence on imported seeds and to achieve self-sufficiency in production. "We are putting together a self-sufficiency program that will allow us to start the production of mini-tubers in three years and later on obtaining the basic potato seeds for planting in the field, thus ensuring their self-sufficiency," said Huarte. The team also studied the possibility of implementing the SAH (Autotrophic Hydroponic System) technology, developed by INTA, for this purpose.

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