Today, a major transformation in potato breeding is here in the form of hybrid true potato seeds (HTPS), created through new non-GMO breeding technology that allows for the production of stable and uniform potatoes from true seed instead of tubers.
Due to their non-perishable, disease-free and logistics-friendly nature, HTPS offer significant value to South African farmers. The hybrid breeding process was invented and patented by hybrid potato breeding company Solynta, based in the Netherlands.
In Kenya, a trial is currently underway to test the yield quality and quantity of several Late Blight-resistant potato varieties grown using HTPS. So far, the results have indicated a favourable harvest, and a more detailed report will be available once the trial has been lifted. The use case in Kenya, which has similarities to the South African potato farming environment, is very promising and an indication of how the use of HTPS can benefit South African farmers with robust, locally-adapted potato hybrids and plentiful potato yields.
A pest risk analysis PRA has been efficiently managed by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). Import permit-pending, HTPS are expected to become available in South Africa in late 2023. A Late Blight certification trial is planned at Ivanhoe Farm and Cedara Agricultural College in the KZN Midlands.
“We believe that introducing Solynta’s innovative hybrid potato technology in South Africa will bring huge benefits to the potato-producing farming communities,” says Justin Platt, Managing Director of RegenZ. “We see from Solynta field trials in the region that the technology can contribute to more efficient and sustainable potato production. HTPS can address food security goals in line with South African government objectives. With their unique ability to build in disease resistance, Solynta’s hybrids will deliver a predictable and rapid flow of improved products. By delivering these genetics through true seeds, many other advantages will be achieved, such as the provision of disease-free seed and a reduction in storage and transport costs.”
Justin Platt is the Founder & CEO of Zylem and RegenZ. Justin has a BSc in Plant Pathology and Botany from UKZN. He has been involved in the agricultural services industry since graduating in 1979. Justin has a passion for regenerative agriculture. He devotes considerable energy to continue building his knowledge and experience and incorporating this into all aspects of the business.
Justin is a sought-after regenerative farming expert, from contract seed potato growing to developing new biological soil conditioners and foliar feeds for the South African market. He actively participates in industry bodies like FERTASA and Potatoes South Africa (PSA). He is among only a handful of Southern African-registered consultants for Brookside Laboratories Incorporated (BLI), Ohio, USA.