BAGUIO CITY-- Cordillera region is hoping to increase by at least 25 percent the seedling production of the “processing” potato variety and supply more potatoes to the “french fries” requirement of food chains.
“The research is a three-year project which, when completed, will increase the volume of quality seeds by 25 percent and eventually improve the yield of the processing potato variety by 25 percent,” said Dr. Nancy Bantog, regional director of the Cordillera-Department of Science and Technology (DOST), in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Bantog said the Benguet State University and the Northern Philippines Root Crops Research and Training Center (NPRCRTC) is seeking an institutional grant support under the DOST’s NICER (Niche Centers in the Regions) facility worth PHP77.7 million.
The research will upgrade the potato research and development facilities and enhance its capacity and capability to undertake more advanced research, development and innovations in support of the production of quality potato seed tubers for the industry.
Bantog said 86 percent of the potato production in the country comes from the region, which was seen declining due to problems on the availability and cost of quality potato tubers.
She said the decline in the available seedlings has led to average annual importation of 243,304 metric tons of potatoes to be able to meet the domestic demand.
“The establishment of a Niche center on potato research and development at BSU will significantly improve the region’s potato industry, contributing not only to increased incomes of local farmers, but also to national development through savings in foreign exchange as a result of reduced importation of potatoes,” Bantog said.
The NICER facility under the Science for Change (S4C) program provides institutional grants to academic institutions for projects involving collaborative research and development on the region’s basic commodities.
Potato has been declared as one of Cordillera’s top agricultural product.
The research will primarily focus on the production of seedlings for the “processing” potato variety- the variety which is used for french fries. The common variety used in cooking is the “table potato” variety, which is not suited for the french fries due to its “wet” qualities.
To date, Bantog said Cordillera is only able to produce 17 percent of the “processing” variety which the research hopes to address by increasing the supply of quality seedlings and eventually improve the yield for the french fries’ requirement.
Bantog said the region is only able to provide the “table” potato variety, and not yet the requirement for french fries but said with the research, they Cordillera hopes to get the market share of the “processing” variety, which is also a big industry.
Bantog added that the three-year project has five components- biotech-assisted methods in nurturing the quality of potato seed production; enhancing micro propagation system of true or type potato varieties; application of improved cultivation system to enhanced foundation seed production; increasing productivity and quality seeds through the improved storage interventions; and operationalizing the formal seed production system.
“The overall goal of the project is to enhance quality potato seed production through application of advanced science and technology intervention that will increase the processing potato,” Bantog said.
“We are targeting to supply the seedling requirement and increase the currently 15 tons per hectare yield to 20 tons,” she added. (PNA)
Photo from Stay Snatched