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Feb 4, 2010

International Potato Center Launches New Research Center in China

Signing ceremony in Beijing, China to launch
the CIP-China Center for Asia and
the Pacific (CCCAP). Photo includes Chinese
Minister of Agriculture, Han Changfu
Photo courtesy of CIP.
On 4 February 2010 the International Potato Center (CIP) announced that it had launched a new research center in collaboration with the government of China to boost potato and sweet potato capacity across China, Asia, and the Pacific region.

 Located in Beijing, the new CIP-China Center for Asia and the Pacific (CCCAP) is the first officially recognized international scientific research organization in China. It will host scientists from around the world.  Research will how potatoes and sweet potatoes can contribute to food security and economic development.
China expects to meet half of its growing food demands over the next 20 years with potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Expectation are that oveall it will need to produce 100 million tons more of food in general to feed its growing population.  Currently, China is the world’s leading producer of both potato and sweetpotato with an annual harvest of 75 million and 104 millions tons respectively. More than 1.3 billion people consume potatoes in China

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture noted that it wants to see research in the following areas:
  1.  improvements in potato and sweetpotato germplasm and breeding materials;
  2. prevention and detection of pests and diseases; 
  3. field management and post-harvest processing and utilization.

CIP's work with China began in 1978.  Successful collaborations have included:
  • "introduction of a disease and drought-resistant potato, called CIP-24. This variety is still grown today in China's northern provinces. 
  • a highly effective CIP-China project to rebuild the potato production in Sichuan province, devastated by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake in 2008
  • a scientific collaboration that significantly accelerated the decoding of the potato genome, released November 2009.
  • In the 1990s, CIP introduced a virus cleanup technology and training that boosted Chinese sweetpotato production by more than 30% on 1 million hectares. The increase formed the basis for the largest economic impact in CIP’s history; well over $550 million of increased production per year in Shandong and neighboring provinces of the country.
  • a CIP-developed potato variety called Tacna, introduced in the northern regions of China in 1994, provided yields more than 40% greater than those of the local variety thanks to its virus resistance and tolerance for heat, drought, and soil salinity. Renamed Jizhangshu 8, it is now been planted throughout China, with expectations of even greater increases in yields.
  • Over 60 CIP courses and workshops, training more than 2,000 Chinese scientists and technicians. Training topics have included the evaluation and utilization of germplasm, tissue culture, virus detection and virus-cleaning, seed potato and sweetpotato production, TPS (true potato seed) production, disease control, and processing technologies.
  • Financial support to 30 Masters-level and 10 Ph. D students
  • Financial support to approximately 100 Chinese potato and sweetpotato scientists to participate in many different international conferences and workshops."
Dr. Pamela Anderson, CIP's Director General noted, "[l]ittle did those initial collaborators realize that they were launching down a path that would be so rich, effective, and long-lasting ... Ours has truly been a story of friendship, collaboration, and success – one that has not only reduced hunger, but also created important scientific advances and improved millions of lives."

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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