TRADE AND MARKET I NG HIP is putting its money on higher potato yield How did the idea of HIP come about? BdG: ‘The idea of HIP was born in 2014 during a working visit by Sharon Dijksma, the then State Secretary for Economic Affairs, to Solynta – the national icon of the Netherlands in that year. During the meeting, the State Secretary indicated that, if the Netherlands is the number 1 potato country, we must carry out basic research together with the business community. ‘I’m going to do my utmost to realise that’, was her message. This idea was taken up by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and later by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, and it’s been on the table for two years. Through collaboration with the Applied and Technical Sciences (TTW) unit of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the 11 companies, 4.5 million euros has been made available for the first building block of research in the next 5 years. The 11 companies jointly pay ‘only’ 1.5 million euros towards this. NWO and the government jointly pay the remaining 3 million euros. In addition, another 2.5 million euros for research capacity for future basic research at WUR is still waiting on the shelf. The first building block aims to improve the yield, quality and stability of potato production, in particular through agronomy, genetics and the interaction between them.’ DH: ‘The production per hectare and the quality of potatoes must be increased to meet the growing demand of the Frenchfry industry. Recently, Rabobank calculated that 1.9 million tons of extra potatoes will be needed in Western Europe in the coming years to meet the demand of the industries. We need to work on that. HIP can contribute to this with building block number 1 and improve the profitability of the companies in the chain. We should not accept that growth only happens abroad.’ What is the objective of HIP? BdG: ‘The general objective of HIP is to gain better insight into the impact of potato cultivation methods on potato growth, development and yield in order to improve the quality and stability of production and make it more sustainable. HIP does this on the basis of precompetitive research, using agronomic and genetic approaches. Within the HIP association, 11 members and 2 associate members work together to achieve this objective. The 11 members are Avebe, Aviko, Bejo, FarmFrites, HZPC, KWS, LambWeston/Meijer, McCain, Meijer Potato, PepsiCo and Solynta. The associated members are the NAO and the VAVI.’ DH: ‘It’s unique that four major processors are going to take up basic research together with the breeding companies. Since the disappearance of the Product and Industry Boards, which left a gap in basic research on potatoes, this is the first initiative in which chain companies jointly take up basic research.’ How did they choose the first topic? BdG: ‘From an original list of 25 project ideas, 7 topics were formulated through an extensive procedure. These seven projects were assessed by an international review committee of scientists and these findings were shared with the companies. In the end, the group of international researchers and people from the HIP companies, under the direction of TTW, chose the four projects together. What are these projects? BdG: ‘The first project is about yield gap. The aim of the project is to analyse potential and actual potato yields. If the project contributes to this, we can integrate the results into a decision-support system (BOS) that compares potato yields and provides insight into the causes of yield differences at individual field level, taking into account company-specific circumstances. In addition to the development of the BOS system, we’re also looking to improve the models for potato growth. The results will contribute to higher yields, quality and stability of potato production. These new insights are important because potato crop yield has barely increased. We want to find an answer to that. If you look at sugar beet, the yield has increased enormously since the introduction of hybrid breeding. Three HIP members, Solynta, HZPC and KWS, will focus on this aspect. Solynta wants to be on the market with a hybrid variety by 2021. The second study concerns the interaction between the potato root and potato cyst nematodes, a problem which, in Europe alone, causes damage estimated at 460 million euros. The disappearance of many nematicides makes it increasingly difficult for growers to keep the nematodes under control. In this project, we will study the chemical communica‘It is unique that four major processors are going to take up basic research together with the breeding companies.’ tion between potatoes and potato cyst nematodes (PCN) and with this knowledge we’ll develop alternative approaches to improve PCN-control in potatoes. This should result in a sustainable improvement of yield stability in Dutch potato cultivation. The third study is about the rooting of the crop, a topic about which very little is known. With this project, we want to investigate the role of root development in potato growth and stress resistance. We want to reveal the contribution of the root system to the maintenance of the yield under variable conditions, including the salinity of the soil and the availability of nitrogen. Our goal is to identify genetic loci that contribute to robust root growth under variable conditions. These can be used as markers to help cultivate more stress-tolerant potato varieties. We do this by screening the natural variation in the development of potato roots. The project will contribute to our understanding of the potato root system and its contribution to the yield under variable conditions. The last project is about learning to understand how the plant distributes its nutrients. The researchers have already identified a series of key proteins that act both as long-distance signals and as regulators of the Potato World 2018 • number 4 5 Pagina 4

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