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Spuds Up

Spuds Up
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In Peru, at the International Potato Centre, researchers have developed aeroponics, meaning they can grow grow potato seeds with only air, water and a nutrient spray. Pioneered by NASA, the technology uses less water than other cultivation techniques and avoids the use of pesticides, meaning that it is more environmentally friendly.

Says Carlos Chuquillanqui, a researcher at the International Potato Centre Researcher, “Using this system, these plants produce 60 tubers per plant compared to the conventional system which produces only 12 to 15 tubers. In addition, they are free of disease and can produce a continuous harvest for seven to eight months.” Potatoes provide complex carbohydrates, vitamins, iron, potassium and zinc so this new technology could help fight famine. The African diet often lacks vitamin A, but Peruvian sweet potatoes are rich in it. So two years ago the Ugandan National Institute of Agriculture teamed up with the Peruvian International Potato Centre. Says Robert Mwanga, a researcher from The Ugandan National Institute of Agriculture, “The National Agricultural Association realized that vitamin A deficiency is severe in Uganda and in other parts of the continent and has worked with the International Potato Centre to introduce varieties from Peru that are high in beta-carotene, which is vitamin A.” With the world’s population expected to grow from 6.7 billion today to 9 billion by 2050 aeroponics and new varieties of sweet potato may turn out to be part of the answer to feeding the world. For more information see: