The two representatives from India met with CIP directors and several scientists, and visited facilities including the genebank, the quality control lab, the entomology unit, and the aeroponics lab.
“We are very satisfied with what we have already achieved with CIP, and we would like to build on this positive experience to go further for improving food security and nutrition in our State”, Mr. Verma said.
Odisha, whose population exceeds that of Peru, is India’s largest producer of sweetpotato. The root crop is a traditional food staple in the State, where it is given as an offering to the gods in religious temples. “Sweetpotato is part of the diet, especially in coastal areas where it doubles up as a crop for ‘trouble areas’, where cyclones are a threat”, Dr. Chadha explained. Following a successful sweetpotato pilot project between November 2012 and November 2013, CIP and the government of Odisha signed a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2013 for a four-year program called GAINS (Generating Advances in Incomes and Nutrition through Sweetpotato). Given the positive feedback from farming communities, it was agreed with CIP Director General Dr. Barbara Wells and Deputy Director General for Research Dr. Oscar Ortiz, that GAINS would be expanded to six or eight other districts in the State of Odisha.
CIP and India Officials Agree to Further Collaboration on Potato and Sweetpotato Projects
Another major topic discussed in Lima was the design and implementation of a seed potato project in Odisha before the end of the year. “We are aiming at self-sufficiency for potato production, but getting the seeds is a major constraint”, explained Mr. Verma. CIP offered to help evaluate seed potato production and to provide technical backstopping and capacity-building support. The project will be designed before the planting season in November. “We don’t want to wait for another year before we start on this”, Mr. Verma said.
Dr. Wells is scheduled to travel to Odisha in August and sign on the project.