ETHIOPIA – PepsiCo’s Ethiopia-based Foods Unit, Senselet Food Processing (Senselet) in partnership with a Dutch biotechnology company that specializes in hybrid potato breeding, Solynta, has launched a joint hybrid true potato seeds (HTPS) project in Ethiopia.

The partnership aims to enrich and expand the country’s growing potato sector by introducing advanced potato genetics with Solynta’s innovative non-GMO hybrid breeding technology.

The new potato hybrid breeding project is set to help Ethiopia get new seeds that have desirable traits, like pest resistance and hardiness to improve food security and ensuring more sustainable income for local farmers.

Under the agreement, public and private researchers, officials, extension workers, and farmers will all be trained to achieve maximum genetic potential from hybrid true potato seeds.

Participants include researchers and officials of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) in Addis Ababa and Amhara Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) in Bahir Dar.

Over the next three years, Ethiopian researchers and private farmers will test HTPS under local conditions to ensure the success of the project.

“Our teams will develop with farmers the best practices, for Ethiopian conditions, for sowing true seeds, raising seedlings, and transplanting seedlings into the field to grow a healthy crop,” said Charles Miller, Director of Business Development at Solynta.

“Hybrid breeding drives the rapid development of new high-yielding, multi-resistant potato cultivars. These will significantly affect crop practices, productivity, and reliance on pesticides.”

Introducing Solynta’s hybrid true potato seeds will guarantee clean starting material and help farmers overcome environmental challenges posed by disease and seed tuber transport, he added.

Solynta and PepsiCo will simultaneously work closely with Ethiopian authorities to establish the legal framework for the import of HTPS, the registration of HTPS varieties, and the certification of HTPS seed tubers.

The project furthers PepsiCo’s commitment to strengthening the potato value chain as part of its Pep+ (Pep positive) agenda, a new commitment to a strategic end-to-end transformation for the company.

The Pep+ strategy centers on sustainability and provides guidelines for how the company will create growth and value by inspiring positive change for the planet and people.

“This investment will further allow us to leverage PepsiCo’s global expertise to boost the business’ potato sourcing programs and its manufacturing and go-to-market capabilities. The potential market for chips here is much larger than the existing market, and as such, there is a great need for higher quality potato products,” said Chris Wijnterp, GM of Senselet.

“We want to help build a more sustainable food system in Ethiopia by meeting human needs while bolstering global economic and social development within the planet’s natural boundaries.”

The partnership in the potato project also aligns closely with the goals of the Ethiopia-Netherlands Seed Partnership (ENSP), established to strengthen the seed sector in Ethiopia.

The mission of ENSP is to “enable the private sector in Ethiopia to deliver farming men and women high-quality seed of improved varieties much needed for food security and nutrition, and climate resilience.”

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