Peruvians Breeding 'Super Potato'

New variety contains twice as much iron and zinc as conventional tubers

Published online: Jan 04, 2019 Articles
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Source: Fresh Plaza 

An iron- and zinc-rich potato, designed to help fight anemia, has been bred by Peruvian scientists from the National Institute of Agricultural Innovations in Lima (INIA). The genetically modified potato, officially called INIA 328 and unofficially known as "Kulli Papa" (lilac potato) because of its color, contains about 23 milligrams of iron and 19 milligrams of zinc per 100 grams, according to the researchers. That is about twice the amount as conventional varieties.

Solution to the Anemia Problem?

According to the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture, the new potato variety also has almost twice as many polyphenols and antioxidants, and it might prevent certain forms of cancer. At the recent presentation of the new crop in Cusco, Minister of Agriculture Gustavo Mostajo was convinced that this unique variety could make an important contribution to "eliminating hunger and anaemia".
 
The new potato is another important building block in achieving the government's goal of solving the anemia problem caused by malnutrition in the Andean region. It is estimated that around 44 percent of Peruvian children suffer from this condition. 

According to Mostajo, the new potato will soon be available, as the Ministry will distribute shoots, seedlings or small tubers to growers in the Andes. These should then be planted in the next season, to be available in a few months.

Good Yields

The new breed, according to researchers, is resistant to disease and can be cultivated up to 13,000 feet above sea level, with yields averaging 21 tons per hectare (about 52 tons per acre). Due to the striking purple color and the associated high recognition value, there is also potential for export.