CHINESE and Scottish researchers have agreed to work together and explore joint solutions to potato breeding and crop pests and diseases that cause major losses to farmers and industry across the world.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Institute of Vegetables and Flowers, part of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and the James Hutton Institute, during the Potatoes in Practice 2019 event.

IVF-CAAS is the largest national agricultural research institution undertaking agricultural research in China on flowers and vegetables including potato. The agreement seeks to strengthen collaboration on potato research and breeding. It is hoped that the new links will result in the development of improved potato varieties, as well as the exploration of novel disease resistance sources to late blight using modern biotechnology.

Professor Jin Li-ping, chair and chief scientist of the National Potato R and D Centre, China Agriculture Research System, signed the agreement on behalf of the visitors and commented: “Potatoes in Practice is a prestigious and remarkable event for the potato sector in the UK and abroad. We are excited to attend and be able to talk to so many scientists and potato industry representatives.

“We hope that this agreement with the James Hutton Institute will boost our ongoing collaborations by developing a joint laboratory. It’s our expectation that this collaboration bears fruit in the near future, for the benefit of the potato sector in both UK and China.”

JHI chief executive Professor Colin Campbell added: “Our intention is to establish formal collaborative links to bring together different aspects of the research at each institution on potato breeding and diseases. The agreement provides a framework for these linkages to be formed.”

The delegation also visited the Institute’s Dundee site and enjoyed presentations which detailed research on different aspects of potato genetics and pathology.

China produces the largest amount of potatoes in the world, and the Chinese government has recently designated potatoes as a staple food for the burgeoning nation of 1.3 billion people.