Four new high-yielding potato varieties released in Afghanistan by ICARDA and ARIA
By: Swain Nigamananda, Hakimi Sayed Samiullah, Salari Hamid, Masomi Mawya, Manan Abdurrahman, and Sharifi Muhammad Sharif
Four new high-yielding varieties of potato adapted to the cool and dry conditions of central Afghanistan have been evaluated and released through a collaboration between ICARDA, the Agricultural Research Institute of Afghanistan (ARIA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL). This research has been funded by IFAD.
As a cheap source of food (Solanum tuberosum), potato is widely consumed by the population of Afghanistan, on a daily basis. In 2019, no less than 921,122 metric tons were produced nationwide, vastly more than any other vegetable crop. However, the demand for potato outstrips supply, and price fluctuation, especially off-season, further complicates its production.
Potato is a nutrition-packed crop: it is fat free when boiled, has 87 kcal energy per 100 gm serving, is 74.7 percent water, 22.6 percent carbohydrates, and 1.6 percent protein. In addition, it contains good levels of vitamins and minerals. Combined, these factors make it a crop of choice for farmers and communities alike. Out of many potato varieties cultivated in Afghanistan, local and imported varieties such as Begul, Samadi, Safidgul, Sabzgul, Kufri Chandaramukhi (KCM), C-3127, Turkmenistani, Cardinal and Desiree are particularly appreciated, and suit local taste and yield. Samadi is generally been recognized as the favourite and the most high-yielding variety.
But each potato variety is only suitable for certain uses, so cultivating multiple varieties has become a necessity in order to satisfy increasing demand for popular culinary dishes such as french fries, chips, potato crumbs and more. To relieve some of the pressure on potato varieties and the overall potato industry, ARIA and ICARDA implemented research trials on potato, to evaluate and release varieties that correspond to the needs of farmers and the tastes of the consumers.
For over four decades ICARDA has worked in collaboration with the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock to release adapted, good quality and high-yielding varieties of cereals, legumes, forages, and vegetable crops suited to the country’s different agro-climatic zones. Since 1979, 430 research trials involving over 11,000 genotypes have been conducted by ICARDA in ARIA’s 18 provincial agriculture research stations located in 13 provinces. High-yielding lines of wheat, chickpea, mungbean, tomato, and alfalfa have all been identified and submitted by ICARDA and ARIA to the National Seed Board (NSB) for release, multiplication and mainstreaming in the seed systems.
For potato, six new pre-evaluated lines e.g. Kufri Chipsona - 4, Kufri Lauvkar, Kufri Himalini, Kufri Frysona, Kuroda, and Agria have been tested and field evaluated along with three local varieties (Samadi, Safedgul and Sabzgul). After a three-year long evaluation, four high-yielding lines (Kufri Chipsona - 4, Agria, Kufri Himalini, and Kuroda) were officially released as Sadaf-20, Germany -20, Bamyan-20 and Faransawi-20 respectively, through NSB.
Among the newly released varieties, Sadaf-20 and Faransawi-20 are early maturing. The tuber of Sadaf-20 comes to maturity 20 days earlier than Bamyan-20, and Faransawi-20, 10 days earlier than Germany-20.
All the newly released varieties are higher yielding than the highest yielding local variety, Samadi (Figure 1). Sadaf-20 is the best performing among all with 17.66 percent higher yield, closely followed by Germany-20 (17.36 percent), Bamyan-20 (17.05 percent) and Faransawi-20 (8.22 percent).
In 2015, ICARDA sourced mini and macro tubers from six promising lines at the International Potato Centre in India. The micro tubers were multiplied in Badam Bagh greenhouse, in an environment free of viruses (figure 2.) before being tested and evaluated between 2016 and 2018 at ARIA research centers in Bamyan and Kabul provinces.
Figure 3 shows that the new and high-yielding varieties of potato Sadaf-20, Germany-20, Bamyan-20 and Faransawi-20 have produced an average of 19.18, 19.13, 19.08 and 17.64 metric tons per hectare respectively during three years of evaluation, which is significantly higher that local checks.
Based on the tuber’s shape, Sadaf-20 and Germany-20 varieties appear to be the most suitable for french fries production, both in small and large scale. Because of its tuber color, Germany-20 would also make a good candidate for French Fries. These new varieties’ performance is welcomed by ARIA, NSB and MAIL, with NSB set embark on large scale multiplication to make it available to farmers in the country. In the face of intensifying climate change, family farmers are keen to grow and commercialize varieties that are higher yielding, pest and disease resistant, and that produce high quality and sufficient quantities of tubers. ICARDA and ARIA are hopeful that the newly released varieities will fulfill their needs, so increasing their income, and improving their resilience to climate shocks.