Two potato varieties bred at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee have been recommended for release in Kenya thanks to the concerted efforts of AHDB, SASA, Seeds2B Africa – part of the Syngenta Foundation – and the Institute’s commercial subsidiary, James Hutton Limited.
Hutton varieties Gemson and Lady Balfour, along with free variety Cara, made the grade after a trial of ten potato varieties at three separate farms over two seasons.
The approval opens the door for GB producers to export to Kenya, where potatoes are the second most important food crop after maize. About 2-3 million tonnes of potatoes are grown annually, however most farmers use home-saved seed and achieve yields of as little as 10 tonnes per hectare.
The top performer in terms of yield was Lady Balfour at 56 tonnes per hectare, while Gemson yielded 42 tonnes per hectare on average. Cara yielded very strongly, with an average of 52 tonnes per hectare.
Rob Burns, AHDB Head of Crop Market Trade Development, said: “This is great news for GB seed producers and our next steps now will be to support them to create links in Kenya so that they can take advantage of this opportunity.
“Kenya has a burgeoning middle class; and as well as table varieties there is a growing need for processing potato seed to supply the growing market for premium potato-based products such as crisps and chips.”
Jonathan Snape, head of James Hutton Ltd, added: “We are delighted that two of the varieties we bred for Greenvale AP and Grampian Growers have performed so well in these trials and we will be engaging with representatives of the Kenyan potato industry in order to open up this potentially important new export market.
“We are grateful for the support of the Scottish Society of Crop Research who facilitated getting high quality Scottish seed out to Kenya for the trials.”