Dirk van Dijken, Royal ZAP/Semagri, Wieringerwerf: ‘Customers are looking for varieties that they can sell exclusively in their market.’

Dirk van Dijken

‘Within the international potato starch market, we already have a number of beautiful varieties in our package. An important focus in our breeding work is finding varieties with resistance to Phytophthora and potato cyst nematode, and with the quality characteristics necessary for our important North African market. The first two characteristics are especially important for our seed potato growers in the Netherlands. After all, Royal ZAP is a seed potato cooperative within which we have to develop profitable varieties for our members. In addition, we see that our customers in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are looking for their own variety that, in addition to the largest Spunta variety, they can sell exclusively in their own market. They want to invest in this themselves. This is an important factor, because we have to trial all new varieties locally. In addition to the requirement that potatoes in their country must give large tubers, Phytophthora resistance is also increasingly important. In our search for new varieties, we collaborate with breeders of non-protected varieties in the Netherlands and with the French Grocep breeding station. Personally, I’d like to exert more influence on the crossings that the breeders develop there. At the moment, they determine the crossings and we, as a seed potato trading company, are only then allowed choose our varieties. One variety of which we currently have great expectations was actually developed by someone else. That’s the Dunastar from breeder Piet Smeenge. This red-skinned variety is strong on Phytophthora and has growth potential in several countries in North Africa. In addition, the variety has Ro 1-4 resistance.’

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