BRI agri institute launched to rev up potato industry

In a bid to turbocharge the potato industry, 11 Belt and Road (BRI) countries including China and Pakistan have joined international universities, companies and organisations to launch an international network on the potato industry at a forum held at China’s Southwest University on May 25. 

A collaborative effort led by the Southwest University, the Belt and Road potato network is designed to enhance the quality and efficiency of the potato industry in BRI countries through multi-level cooperation, including academic exchanges, joint research, and technology transfer, Prof. Lyu Dianqiu, dean of the Agronomy and Biotechnology College at Southwest University told China Economic Net (CEN) in a phone interview.

Specifically, the innovation institute will serve as a platform to facilitate research and promote advancements in potato breeding, germplasm creation and utilisation, and construct potato cultivation demonstration bases, Prof. Lyu told CEN reporter.

The potato expert noted that the breeding-oriented cooperation arises from a detailed study conducted to scrutinise the challenges and potential in the potato industry in the BRI countries. “We found BRI countries such as Pakistan and Kazakhstan are plagued by a lack of quality potato seeds,” Prof. Lyu told CEN, adding that as a token of support, each country was gifed 100 sets of germplasm rapid diagnostic kits at the forum.

As a first step, training sessions will be organised to impart breeding know-how to the members, Prof. Lyu said.

To this end, the participants signed a strategic cooperation agreement at the forum and released a proposal for the shared construction and utlisation of the “Belt and Road” International Potato Germplasm Resource Bank.

In an encouraging sign, the participating universities and enterprises have already established close ties with each other during the forum, and “this serves as an inspiring start to deeper technological cooperation,” he said.

The BRI potato network partners include the CIP-China Center for Asia and the Pacific (CCCAP), Leling Xisen Potato Industry Group Co. Ltd, and many other enterprises, universities, research institutes including the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, S. Seifullin Kazakh Agrotechnical University, and University of Lahore in Pakistan.