National Network for Innovation in the Potato
NEIKER-Tecnalia has actively participated in the recent creation of the National Network for Innovation in the Potato, the coordinator of which is José Ignacio Ruiz de Galarreta, principal researcher at NEIKER-Tecnalia. The general aim of the Red Patata (Potato Network) is to organise and make operational a Spanish network for the enhancement and technological transference of the potato, as well as to serve as a forum for the interchange of information and knowledge about the needs of the sector, identifying emerging technologies and creating a consortium that represents all the links in the chain in order to increase the competitiveness of this crop. The strategic objectives of this network are to identify the needs and the knowledge of the various sectors involved, to define the mechanisms of communication for enhanced transmission of knowledge, to promote cooperation between the various players for participation in R+D+i, projects, to define the factors at a scientific, economic and industrial level that enable an increase of competitiveness of the crop and, finally, to publish the various existing international initiatives concerning the potato. The Red Patata also sets out three technological objectives. The first is achieving greater access to advanced germoplasm (clones), and sources of resistance (pre-enhancement products) through the interchange coordinated and facilitated by the Network. This involves interchange between countries, through their respective national (INIAs) programmes and international ones (CIP). The interchange at a national scale, within each country and between the players belonging to the chains of research and production of the tuber, will also be gradually augmented, special emphasis being given to end users – made up of small farmers in disfavoured regions. Agreements will be needed between countries belonging to the Network, to coincide in the regulation of the interchange of the germoplasm. With this it is proposed to partially mitigate the legislation which inhibit this interchange of germoplasm - in favour of developing countries - through common agreement What is proposed is a planned system of interchange, taking full advantage of the wealth of biodiversity of the potato in Latin America, in order to attend to the specific demand of each country or region. This will be facilitated by the implementation of virtual selection systems enabling users to inform themselves of the origin, properties and characteristics of the germoplasm required. Moreover, it will enable the virtual pre-selection of material by users and also enable feedback for the data bases with records of use and selection trials, so that players within the Network can access the results obtained from the use of interchanged germoplasm. The second objective aims to increase efficiency in the dissemination, distribution and promotion of varieties of the potato and advanced germoplasm. In this module, marketing and promotion strategies of government property will be developed, such as the enhanced varieties from national improvement programmes. The lessons from the private sector that might be beneficial for a suitable diffusion of varieties will be used. Moreover, in this module a greater participation of organisations involved in the process of dissemination and consequent distribution of varieties is proposed, through public-private alliances; also put forward is the implementation of a productive and functional strategy for participation by base-representative organisations in the sector. The third objective of the Red Nacional de Innovación en Patata aims at greater efficiency in the evaluation of the various resistant and productive germoplasms, by means of standardised, comparable and shared procedures; also through operational information systems. Greater professional capacity in national enhancement programmes using greater access to information and new technologies is proposed. Thus, what is involved is the application of new marketing and promotion strategies, accelerated schemes for freeing up systems, strategic alliances between public-private sectors, and active participation of the various organisations in the potato growing, production and distribution chain and also an improved provision of good quality seeds of new varieties, economically accessible by smallholders also. Finally the application of technological innovations for seed production, adapted to the specific contexts of greater professional capacities in national programmes and in seed growing sectors.