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Kazakhstan to harvest its first virus-free potatoes in September

25 july 2013, 17:40
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Virus-free potatoes. Photo by Dmitriy Khegai©
Virus-free potatoes. Photo by Dmitriy Khegai©
Kazakhstan biotechnologists have cultivated a virus-resistant variety of potato named Aladdin using clonal propagation technology, Tengrinews.kz reports citing the project’s research advisor Darkhan Balpanov.

According to the expert, the method helps protect potatoes from virus, bacterial, fungus and nematode diseases caused by penetration of small malicious organisms. The scientists cultivated the potatoes from micro-tubers with zero level of pathogens that took around 50 days to produce. Additional advantage of the technology lays in the variety's ability to grow in different climatic zones and natural conditions. “The product uses only clean varieties received through traditional GMO-free selection methods,” the scientist stressed.

The scientists insist that they will be able to grow $1 million worth of the virus-free seed potatoes in five years since the beginning of the project’s implementation. This project will provide farms with cheap high quality seeds. “The price of elite seed potatoes is 120 tenge ($0.8) per 1kg, while the price of imported seeds is 300 tenge ($2) per 1kg. In our case the self-cost will make 90 tenge ($0.6) per 1kg,” Balpanov said.

The first harvest of the Kazakhstan virus-resistant potatoes will be gathered in September 2013. It has been planted on the area of around 6 hectares. The scientists plan to harvest around 100 tons of the Aladdin potatoes. In 2014 they plan to collect up to 500 tons of the virus-free potatoes. In the other words, they expect the second harvest to be of commercial scale.

Balpanov said that the Kazakhstan scientist were in talks with their colleagues from South Korea who were planning to grow batata in Kazakhstan. This culture is normally grows in tropical areas. However, according to Balpanov, it can also be grown in countries with continental climate like Kazakhstan.

Earlier Kazakhstan genetics bred carrots containing anti-tuberculosis vaccine. The scientists managed to inject TBC germ into the root crop and create a sort of an edible vaccine.


By Dmitriy Khegai

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