A long-standing partnership between Teagasc and the IMP Group to breed new varieties of potatoes for the Irish and global markets is to enter another phase.
A new fifteen year agreement has been signed to continue the collaboration which began in the early 1970s.
Given the long lead times in developing new potato breeds, Teagasc Director Professor Gerry Boyle said he was pleased the close relationship will continue and build on the successes of the potato breeding programme in Oak Park, Carlow.
IPM Potato Group, a subsidiary of Donegal Investment Group, is a major international player in developing new and improved potato varieties.
It markets seed potatoes of Irish, British, Dutch and French origin in over 40 countries.
Colm McDonnell, R&D manager at IPM, said the new agreement will enable the continuation of focused efforts to develop potato varieties which can perform under the diverse set of challenges that lie ahead.
“We plan to introduce robust varieties, which are resistant to pests and diseases, less dependent on pesticide input, energy and water efficient and meet end-users specifications,” he said.
Over 45 potato varieties have been released by the partnership, including Rooster, now the most popular variety in Ireland, with over 65% of total production in Ireland, and also enjoying success in Britain and North America.
Nectar, released in 2005, has recently grown to be the fourth largest variety in the UK based on its yield, excellent taste, storage and appearance.
Denis Griffin, potato breeder at Teagasc, said the focus of the breeding programme, now one of the most modern internationally, has evolved over the past fifteen years to focus on sustainability and consumer quality traits.