Biofortified potatoes: allies in the fight against global malnutrition

10th World Potato Congress

Cusco, 31 May 2018. A whole range of scientific advances in potato crop improvement are being presented at the 10th World Potato Congress. One of the most important achievements has been the development of biofortified potatoes: potatoes containing a higher concentration of iron and zinc.

In Peru, biofortified potatoes can help reduce malnutrition in areas of the Andes, complementing strategies such as the supplementation and fortification of other foods which, because they are less sustainable, tend not to have yielded such successful results.

“The first step in the process is to analyze a group of specimens from the genebank at the International Potato Center (CIP) to choose which ones have the highest concentrations of iron and zinc. Then, we cross those varieties with other specimens to get a new generation of biofortified potatoes to combat malnutrition. The scientists on the Genetics and Crop Improvement Program have been working for more than 15 years developing potato clones with a higher mineral content”, said Gabriela Burgos, Associate Scientist and Head of CIP’s Quality and Nutrition Lab.

Initial materials produced by the program have already been evaluated in collaboration with strategic partners, and there is currently a group of advanced clones with around 50 percent higher content of the two micronutrients (iron and zinc), both of which are fundamental to reducing the anemia and malnutrition affecting some of Peru’s poorest communities based around the country’s potato production systems.

It’s important to note that, whilst the potato is a source of energy, its contribution to nutrition goes well beyond that. For example, components in yellow potato help to prevent ocular degeneration and purple or red potatoes contain high levels of antioxidants. Similarly, something that not many people know is that potato is an important source of vitamin C.  That’s why, ideally we should consume several different varieties of this ancient tuber if we want to ensure we get the nutrients and minerals necessary for a balanced and healthy diet.

About CIP

The International Potato Center (CIP), with headquarters in Lima, was founded in 1971 as a root and tuber research-for-development institution delivering sustainable solutions to the pressing world problems of hunger, poverty and the degradation of natural resources. CIP is custodian to a collection of potato, sweetpotato and Andean roots and tubers including the world’s largest collection of potato diversity. CIP has regional offices in Peru, Ecuador, Kenia, India and China and works all over the world with projects in 30 developing countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

CIP is part of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. CGIAR science is dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring a more sustainable management of natural resources. Its research is carried out by 15 CGIAR Centers, in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organizations and the private sector. www.cgiar.org

Contact:

Marisol Paredes
Burson Marsteller Peru
Cel. 998161515
marisol.paredes@bm.com
José Balta
Burson Marsteller Peru
Cel. 943276255
jose.balta@bm.com
María Elena Lanatta
International Potato Center
Cel. 981187198
m.lanatta@cgiar.org

#CIPatWPC18 #Potato2018

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