Published online: May 15, 2007
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Vietnamese potato growers are about to stop importing seed from Europe and China after a German program was developed to produce domestic supplies.

The farmers in the northern province of Nam Dinh have imported seed for years because the local stock is prone to disease. But the Vietnam News Agency reports that in 2005 the province joined the German sponsored program to increase potato yields and the area under cultivation has increased tenfold.

Nam Dinh's Science and Technology Department has set up a seedling laboratory to provide diesease-free potatoes to growers. The province has also built a storehouse capable of holding 1,500 tonnes of the root vegetables and passed on new technologies to growers.

Nam Dinh's seedling center last year provided potato seed to 20 cooperatives at 75 percent of the price of imported germplasm. Growers have seen their yields increase up to 25 percent to around 20 tonnes per hectare. Potato prices have risen from VND500 to VND800 per kilogram (31 U.S. cents to 51 cents).

"Clean potatoes have helped enrich the lives of local farmers," Nam Dinh Seedling Center Director Nguyen Phung Hoan says.

"The potato cultivation area in Vietnam is 35,000 hectares with an average productivity of 13 to 15 tonnes a hectare but this can reach 24 or 25 tonnes a hectare," said Nguyen Chi Ngoc head of Vietnam's Cultivation Department. The aim is to increase potato production across Vietnam to 50,000 hectares by 2010.