WORLD POTATO CONGRESS WEBINAR
DIVERSIFIED USE OF APICAL CUTTINGS TO BOOST POTATO SEED SYSTEMS
In the lead-up to the 2021 World Potato Congress (WPC), the organizers have scheduled a series of webinars on current potato science, production and market trends, hosted by WPC director and University of Idaho professor Dr. Nora Olsen.
On May 5, at 9 am Eastern Standard Time, Dr. Monica L. Parker, a Senior Scientist with the International Potato Center based in Nairobi, Kenya, will present a webinar on Diversified use of apical cuttings to boost potato seed systems.
Seed shortages are a perennial challenge in many potato-producing countries, in part because the multiplication ratio for seed potatoes is so low compared to other crops. A potato plant produces an average of 10-15 tubers, so it takes a seed multiplier three to four seasons to produce an economically viable crop of commercial seed to sell to farmers. The use of rooted apical cuttings as starter material can significantly accelerate this process. It begins by taking cuttings from the shoots of tissue culture plantlets and letting them grow in a screenhouse. Apical cuttings are subsequently taken from those plantlets, resulting in more than 15 mother plants, from which further cuttings are taken, so that one tissue culture plantlet can end up producing more than 100 rooted cuttings. When those cuttings are planted in the field, they each produce 10-20 elite seed potatoes, which can be multiplied over two seasons to produce 1,000—4,000 seed potatoes for sale. This technology can speed up the dissemination of improved varieties, enable more farmers to enjoy the benefits of planting quality seed, and provide income opportunities in the seed value chain.
Dr. Monica L. Parker is based in Nairobi, Kenya with the International Potato Center with roles as a Principal Investigator and providing leadership for Potato for Africa Program. With a career spanning 15 years in agriculture, primarily in Africa, Dr. Parker specialises in agricultural development through research and development, and delivering science. Bringing a multi-disciplinary approach, her work encompasses technical and project leadership, strengthening partnerships, and program growth. Her scientific studies on seed systems, quality assurance, good agricultural practices and scaling technologies inform her work. Through science at the forefront to improve farm productivity and bring positive livelihood changes, Monica further delves into validating how the technologies and approaches foster business development by assessing agronomic and economic outputs and outcomes of interventions. She conducted her MSc (1999), and PhD (2012) and Post-Doctoral Fellow in Plant Pathology from Simon Fraser University and the University of Guelph, respectively.