The network will focus on five areas—value-added uses for the potato, health and pharmaceutical products, dietary properties, potato-based plastics and insect control.
Led by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AFCC), the BioPotato Network will bring together 12 organizations and 32 scientists including AAFC's Potato Research Centers in Fredericton, Guelph and Lethbridge, BioAtlantech, P.E.I. Food Technology Centre, McMaster University, the University of Guelph, Dalhousie University, the University of Toronto, the University of Prince Edward Island, the University of New Brunswick, Holland College, the Potato Innovation Network Pin2020 and the National Research Council's Institute for Nutrisciences and Health.
A government spokesman says the three-year C$5.3-million (US$4.2 million) research program will help generate new jobs for Canadians, create new health benefits for Canadians, and produce a new generation of more environmentally-friendly plastics.
“This project will bring together some of the best and the brightest minds from governments, academia and industry to harness the full potential of the potato in terms of our economy, health and environment,” New Brunswick Member of Parliament Mike Allen says.
“This network will give potato farmers the competitive edge that they need to succeed in their sector, which will in turn boost their bottom line, and as a result, our economy.”
Across Canada, the potato industry is worth nearly C$6 billion (US$4.79-billion) to the national economy and creates more than 30,000 jobs, mostly in rural areas. In 2008, Atlantic Canadian farmers produced more than 1.7 million tonnes of potatoes.
Fredericton Potato Research Centre manager Jacques Millette says the new project will expand research into many different areas and with potential benefits for many people.