New potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode

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Scientists from NemAfrica, the nematology unit at CGIAR-IITA, and the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) are currently assessing new potato varieties that are resistant to the potato cyst nematode (PCN) pest. These damaging pests significantly reduce yields and tuber sizes and consequently impact farmers’ income and food security in Kenya and the broader East African region. Researchers discovered them only recently as a new threat to potato in the area.

New potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode Brandspurng
A display of potato tubers harvested from the trial plots for physical evaluation by farmers. | www.brandspurng.com

The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) received eight new lines of potato in March 2020, subsequently certifying them for preliminary planting and testing under Kenyan agroecological conditions. The scientists sourced the planting materials from the renowned James Hutton Institute (JHI) in Scotland, from crosses made using parents with the H1 gene, which confers resistance to PCN, and the Phureja potato, which have highly desired taste and cooking qualities.

IITA Soil Health Scientist Danny Coyne, who has been leading efforts to assess these new lines, says that besides their resistance to PCN, they selected the specific sequences based on additional attributes vis à vis farmer growing preferences in Kenya.

New potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode Brandspurng
Farmers in Nyandarua, Central Kenya, tasting cooked potatoes from the new lines. | www.brandspurng.com

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“We identified early maturing lines that have a short dormancy, which are key characteristics of Shangi, the most popular variety currently being grown by farmers, as well as being high yielding compared to the current local varieties,” says Coyne.

Scientists developed the lines as part of a breeding program for use in the UK. The researchers selected them for trials in Kenya because of their low dormancy, which Kenyan farmers prefer. Prof. John Jones (JHI), a PCN expert, had recently visited IITA and icipe to help identify the PCN and recognized that these lines might be useful, as they resembled Shangi.

Innovate UK, a UK Government innovation agency, provided funding to facilitate the procurement, processing, and assessment of the new lines. IITA staff, in cooperation with KEPHIS, established contained field trials to test the performance of the new lines under varying levels of PCN infestation, alongside the local variety Shangi.

George Ngundo, a plant health inspector at KEPHIS, called the introduction of the new PCN resistant varieties a welcome development toward fighting the PCN scourge on potato farmers. He pointed out that the varieties will be the first of their kind in Kenya as the country does not have PCN resistant varieties within the seed system.

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Jesse Kamutu, a potato seed and tuber producer from Kinangop in Nyandarua County, who assisted with the trials, echoed those sentiments. “Farmers in our area have been abandoning
potato farming for other crops,” he says. “This is due to decreasing yields and poor quality of tubers;” he continues, “we did not (even) know why until we were shown the PCN pest.” PCN is a minute microscopic worm that feeds on and damages the potato roots. PCN is among the most damaging pests of potato, and because they are new and unseen, farmers did not associate PCN with the decreasing potato yields.

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The local Shangi variety, commonly planted by farmers across Kenya and some parts of East Africa, has no resistance against PCN and is being ravaged by the pest. Authorities estimate that the pest has reduced potato productivity in the region by more than 40%, digging deeper into farmers’ income. From the field trials, the new lines far outperformed Shangi in overall yield, within a maturity period desirable to the farmer.

IITA Postgraduate, Harrison Mburu, who is finalizing his master’s study at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), is directing the field trials and is very impressed with the outcome from the introductory planting in high altitude areas in Kenya. His master’s study has demonstrated the damage caused by PCN and the need for PCN-resistant varieties that farmers like. Resistant varieties that are similar to Shangi, therefore, would be a good start, he said.

In late August, the IITA team organized a visual and taste test with farmers in Munyaka and Gathara areas of Kinangop. Farmers judged the different tubers on display without knowing which were the new lines. Based on texture, shape, the taste of cooked potato as French fries/chips, mashed and boiled, and the amount of time it takes to cook, the farmers’ responses will help the team to select the most preferred lines to multiply and develop into planting varieties.

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However, initial interest from these tasting events has already stimulated excitement, with some farmers showing a preference for the new lines and offering their farms to multiply the seeds at large scale.

According to Dr Solveig Haukeland, Nematologist (icipe), identifying a new variety that is resistant to PCN, early maturing, gives a good yield, and is highly regarded on the market will change the fortunes of potato farmers in the region. The team is currently assessing the lines for resistance to other diseases in Kenya.

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DHL donated IDR2.4 billion to SOS Children’s Villages in six years of partnership in Indonesia

  • With DPDHL Group's support and contribution of €140,000 (IDR2.4 billion) since inception, program has benefitted more than 2,500 young people in Indonesia
  • GoTeach program aims to improve youth employability, especially now with challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - Media OutReach - 8 March 2021 - DHL Global Forwarding, the leading international freight specialist arm of Deutsche Post DHL Group (or DPDHL Group), today commemorates six years of partnership with SOS Children's Villages (SOSCV) at a DHL GoTeach Donation Ceremony. Working together with the non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on supporting children without parental care and families at risk, DPDHL Group has reached out to more than 2,500 beneficiaries in Indonesia through mentorship and educational activities and a contribution of €140,000 (IDR2.4 billion) since 2014.


New potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode - Brand Spur

"As one of the largest employers in the world, the Group is supportive of programs that prepare job seekers for the working world, especially during such challenging times. Today, we are proud to commemorate our six years of partnership with SOS Children's Villages at the DHL GoTeach Donation Ceremony," said Thomas Grunau, Global Head of Business Strategy & Digitalization, DHL Global Forwarding.

During the ceremony, Grunau presented a donation of €5,000 to SOSCV Indonesia in support of the Pandemic GoTeach project, which offered an online employability training to more than 1,000 young people all over Indonesia in 2020. With the support of 12 volunteers, the online training sessions, covering employability related topics such as job interview and resume writing skills, will continue in 2021 until social distancing measures ease up. The program is the brainchild of Elok Vinindya Wardhani, Marketing and Corporate Communications, DHL Global Forwarding Indonesia, who was recognized for her initiative and effort with the organization's CEO award in the category sustainability.

DHL Global Forwarding Indonesia President Director, Vincent Yong said, "In today's rapidly changing world, education paves the way to a stable, sustainable and prosperous tomorrow. Through the GoTeach program, DHL hopes to help the youth in Indonesia to develop the skills and confidence to enter the professional world. With 509 employees across all business divisions volunteering for more than 3,000 hours in the past six years, GoTeach also delivers opportunities for our employees to actively contribute and play a role in the community."

GoTeach is a group-wide corporate responsibility program aimed at improving youth employability for those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Educational and mentorship activities are regularly organized to better prepare them to enter the working world.

"The sustainability and power of an economy and the society depend on a strong educational system and targeted efforts to develop the next generation of working professionals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, jobs and livelihoods have been impacted, deepening the need for training and mentoring programs, such as GoTeach, for our youth to continue to develop their competencies and capabilities to reach their dreams. SOS Children's Villages is happy and proud to join hands with DHL Indonesia to deliver on this commitment," said Gregor Hadiyanto Nitihardjo, National Director SOS Children's Villages Indonesia.

According to UNICEF, there are approximately 24 million students who have dropped out of school as a result of the pandemic, adding to the 870 million students or half of the world's student population in 51 countries who have yet to return to school.

In Indonesia, DHL Global Forwarding together with DHL Express and DHL Supply Chain have continuously focused on developing youth's potential since 2014, sharing knowledge on soft and hard skills as well as supporting career development and employability for young people. The GoTeach program has been conducted in several locations across Indonesia such as Meulaboh, Banda Aceh, Medan, Jakarta, Lembang, Semarang, Bali and Flores. For the past six years, DHL employees have actively become mentors in several GoTeach activities such as skill preparation, job shadowing, DHL facility tours, internships and dream camp activities at SOS Children's Villages to improve employability. The initiative is also part of DPDHL Group's effort to contribute to local communities where they operate.


DHL – The logistics company for the world

DHL is the leading global brand in the logistics industry. Our DHL divisions offer an unrivalled portfolio of logistics services ranging from national and international parcel delivery, e-commerce shipping and fulfillment solutions, international express, road, air and ocean transport to industrial supply chain management. With about 380,000 employees in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide, DHL connects people and businesses securely and reliably, enabling global sustainable trade flows. With specialized solutions for growth markets and industries including technology, life sciences and healthcare, engineering, manufacturing & energy, auto-mobility and retail, DHL is decisively positioned as "The logistics company for the world".

About SOS Children’s Villages

SOS Children's Villages is a non-profit organization that provides alternative care for children who lost or at risk of losing their parental care. Founded in 1949 in Innsbruck, Austria, SOS Children's Villages now are in 136 countries, including Indonesia. Today, Indonesia SOS Children's Villages have nurtured and assisted more than 5.500 children in 11 cities in Indonesia: Lembang, Jakarta, Bogor, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Tabanan, Maumere, Banda Aceh, Meulaboh, Medan, and Palu. For further information, visit: www.sos.or.id | @desaanaksos


*Special Notes

SOS Children's Villages prioritizes family-based care and we form substitute families for children who lost or at risk of losing their parental care. The Mothers and Children establish a family relationship with each other just like any family out there (family-care), so we avoid terms such as an orphanage, foster child, foster mother, and orphans that is replaced with the term a child who lost or at risk of losing their parental care. In SOS Children's Villages, we also pay close attention to children's interests and we also protect their privacy, so any information that is related to their background and personal matter will only be shared with particular parties and will not be published to the public.

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