Background
Chapter 8 Working on food security

The worldwide food demand continues to grow immensely

The worldwide food demand continues to grow immensely. A growing world population and greater prosperity in various parts of the world, explain this growth. Only a small part of the growing food demand can be produced on new agricultural land (to be developed).

This growing food demand will have to be met, for the most part (80%), by higher yields on existing agricultural land. As market leader in potato breeding, we have a major responsibility to take in this respect.

Table of objectives*

The challenges:

What is needed:

Feeding more people around the world

Development of adapted varieties

Water scarcity is one of the threats standing in the way of producing sufficient amounts of food. The potato as a crop - and various HZPC varieties in particular - produces a great deal of healthy basic food in a short period, with relatively little water. Potatoes require significantly less water than food crops like corn, wheat and rice. This is why governments in different countries are promoting the cultivation of potatoes.

Water footprint table

The development of new varieties for cultivation under difficult conditions (periods of heat or drought, saline soil or poor agricultural soil) is a spearhead in our breeding strategy.

We also consider knowledge sharing, in order to further optimise the cultivation of potatoes, an important contribution, on HZPC’s part, to the growing need for healthy food and responsible cultivation.

Reaching more people

We want to reach more people around the world with our products each year. In this way we contribute to food security and to a healthy and varied diet. We currently reach 8% of the world’s population with our potatoes. Our objective is to reach 9% in 2020. We achieve this indirectly by supplying propagating material to more countries and in larger quantities. We aim to add one country per year to the package of countries to which we supply propagating material.

Exporting to new countries

We delivered to 86 countries in 2012, structurally seen, with direct and indirect sales (licensed cultivation). We call it structural sales when a country purchases propagating material from us three years in a row. In the period from 2010 - 2014, 14 countries were delivered to on an incidental basis and 2 countries were included on the list 2 years in a row. We also delivered to one of these two countries in 2013. This means that this particular country can be added to the list as number 87. We did not have to remove a country from the list in 2013.

Somashekhar, R.S. | business development manager

Knowledge sharing with growers

With good instructions and knowledge, growers around the world can get the best out of their crops. This prevents loss of (part of) the harvest and wastage of raw materials or environmental burdens.

We supply most of our propagating material directly to growers. Propagating material is also purchased in an indirect manner. It is uncertain whether the growers have the right information at their disposal. This is why we always want to communicate with the end user. Thanks to digital technology, we help to increase success.

The first step is the development of a QR code on the package labelling. By scanning the QR code, the grower gains access to all the required knowledge. The second step is to enter into dialogue with the grower, with regard to the different varieties’ results. In the near future an app will be developed, which can be used at any time of day by growers around the world.

Contribution to healthy food

It is our goal to improve the cultivation of potatoes around the world. With the potato as a crop, growers around the world can produce good food, rich in vitamins and carbohydrates, in a short period of time and with relatively little water. We want to increase the nutritional value per m2 cultivated, and in so doing, contribute to the improvement of the global food supply.

Nutritional overview

Superfood: Perupas

Our Perupas concept is new and entirely in line with today’s superfood trend. The Blue Star, Magenta Love and Violet Queen varieties are specialty varieties. They were introduced to the market under the brand name Perupas. Distinctive of these varieties is the variety of colour and shape. A number of Perupa varieties have a higher concentration of anthocyanins, the pigment which is also found in red beets, for example. It is an antioxidant, which is noted in scientific publications as a substance with health-promoting properties. This is entirely in line with the trend of eating healthy food, also known as superfoods.

For the time being, Perupas is still aimed at professional chefs and the culinary consumer who deems healthy food important.

Fewer calories: Sunlite

Overnutrition is also a growing concern around the world, in addition to malnutrition.  A special light potato was developed, even though the potato already has a low caloric value*. Sunlite is a tasty potato with fewer calories than the average potato. These Sunlite potatoes contain a mere 58 kcal per 100 grams, compared to an average of 83 kcal for the ordinary potato.

 

Take care of genetic resources

Adding biodiversity & developing new potato varieties

HZPC wants to add 5 new varieties to the catalogue of varieties each year. These varieties were included during recent years:

     
Year 2011/2012 2012/2013
     
Number of varieties included in the catalogue of varieties 5 8
     
Names Celandine Blue Star
  Flamenco Gioconda
  Memphis Magenta Love
  Kastelli Navigator
  Sultana Orlena
    Sunita
    Talentine
    Violet Queen

 

Perupas

The Blue Star, Magenta Love and Violet Queen varieties are specialty varieties. They were introduced to the market under the brand name Perupas. Distinctive of these varieties is the variety of colour and shape. A number of Perupa varieties have a higher concentration of anthocyanins, the pigment which is also found in red beets, for example. This pigment is an antioxidant, which is noted in scientific publications as a substance with health-promoting properties. This is entirely in line with the trend of eating healthy food, also known as superfoods.

Ensuring genetic diversity

We aim to conserve the genetic diversity of the potato as a crop. This natural treasure will therefore also be available for future generations.

Genetic diversity (different origins) is extremely important in terms of global food supply. As a breeding company, we must be able to anticipate the changing requirements associated with the cultivation of potatoes, as well as changing conditions.

New diseases and plagues might come into play, the climate changes, and the world population grows. The demand for sustainable products also increases and consumer needs change. The solution to new problems can sometimes be found in the properties of old varieties, in plants in other countries (in agricultural systems or out there) or in gene banks.

We focus on:

  • The development of new potato varieties, in order to safeguard genetic diversity
  • Supporting and collaborating with gene banks around the world
  • Making it possible to use genetic material freely, for further breeding (breeders’ exemption)

Working responsibly with genetic material:
collaborating with gene banks

HZPC attaches considerable value to successful collaboration with gene banks. Sustainable collaboration can therefore take place, with the most important sources of genetic diversity. We use collections that are present in gene banks in the Netherlands and Germany.

Collaboration with CIP and benefit sharing in Peru

In 2014, HZPC and a support group of various organisations in Peru set out to work on the start of a practical and small-scale benefit sharing initiative, under the guidance of the International Potato Center (CIP), with and for so-called custodian farmers in the Andes.

Very recently, in 2014, HZPC started collaborating with the CIP (International Potato Centre) in Peru. This organisation provides sustainable solutions to problems around the world, such as hunger, poverty, and the disappearance of natural raw materials. The joint project serves to support the conservation of genetic diversity, with the associated benefit sharing. To start with, the project will run for 3 years.

Read more on the project

Breeders’ exemption

Genetic sources and biodiversity form the parental material for plant breeding. In most cases, modern varieties are used as the genetic source for breeding. Wild relatives of cultivated crops and landraces* are sometimes used. It is therefore extremely important for plant breeding purposes, to have access to all genetic sources.

Plantum is the industry association for companies in the vegetative propagation material sector. Plantum formulated a standpoint to make it possible to use genetic material freely, for further breeding or breeders’ exemption.

This standpoint reads:

  1. Biological material protected by patent rights should be freely available for the development of new varieties.
  2. The use and exploitation of these new varieties should be free, in accordance with the breeders’ exemption laid down in the UPOV Convention.
  3. The aforementioned free availability, use and exploitation, should not be obstructed in any way, either directly or indirectly, by the patent right.

HZPC wholeheartedly supports the standpoint of Plantum, with regard to the breeders’ exemption, and is of the opinion that this should be applicable worldwide.