CIPeople: Kaiyun Xie: The many faces of a potato scientist

Kaiyun Xie is a great example of the many disciplines that scientists at CIP must weave together to support our mission to contribute to food security, well-being, and gender equity for poor people in root and tuber farming and food systems in the developing world. From getting his hands dirty in field projects, increasingCIPeople-logo awareness of potatoes through the editorial help of books, writing research papers, to making potatoes accessible on a scientific level. Kaiyun is a major supporter of potatoes, loving all kinds. He believes it is very important to inform people about potatoes´ potential because many view it as a poor mans’ crop. “We need to improve the public awareness of potato and sweetpotato (other Andean RTCs) and let people know about CIP´s work on these crops. There are huge potential for cooperation with CIP on these crops,” he says.

Kaiyun is one of the top researchers for CIP’s -China Center for Asia and Pacific (CCCAP). He hold’s bachelor’s degree from Huazhong Agriculture University followed by his Masters and his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science. During his master’s work in 1996, helping on a sweetpotato research project for soil erosion control in red soil of Southern China, Kaiyun got his first taste of CIP. “I knew it well because there was a Liaison Office located in Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences where my previous office is close to.” Following this first encounter, Kaiyun spent seven years working in the Institute of Vegetables and Flowers of Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science. In 2007 he entered CIP as Liaison Scientist.

Kaiyun Xie carries Coop88 potatoes in a farmer's field
Kaiyun Xie carries Coop88 potatoes in a farmer’s field

His favorite thing about CIP is the potato germplasm in the genebank and its huge potential. “The development of new potato varieties has helped increase potato production in many countries.” For Kaiyun working in, his home country, China has had some setbacks. “As the key research staff in CIP (CCCAP), the biggest challenge for me is how to mobilize the international funds to support the research we are going to conduct in China because most of the international foundation/donors don’t think China is still a country which needs supports from outside China. However, for potato research, China is still an important country because of its low productivity and multiple ecological environments,” says Kaiyrn. “The research results we get from China will be helpful to many developing countries.”

Despite these setbacks Kaiyun has helped increase awareness and funds for a better potato for the future. Along with increasing awareness of China’s potato diversity and uses Kaiyun, has collaborated on a book entitled “How the Chinese Eat Potatoes”, which he edited and for which he also collected about 300 potato dishes around China’s different regions.