Introducing CIP-Matilde, a New Disease-Resistant Potato
This World Food Day (16 October 2021), the Crop Trust and the International Potato Center (CIP) are announcing a new potato variety for farmers everywhere.
World, meet CIP-Matilde, a potato variety that can almost completely withstand late blight, a disease that commonly destroys potatoes.
Developed by CIP with support from the Crop Trust’s Crop Wild Relatives Project, CIP-Matilde is an example of the potential of using crop wild relatives for breeding climate-smart varieties, an approach that could boost food production and support farmers’ livelihoods across the globe.
CIP-Matilde is named after potato breeder Matilde Orrillo, who worked for CIP for 37 years and pioneered the center’s use of wild relatives in potato breeding.
- The potato is the third-most important food crop globally.
- It’s eaten on every continent except Antarctica.
- The first potatoes were domesticated in South America between 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. The Central Andes region is home to the world’s greatest potato biodiversity.
- The area is also home to more than 150 potato wild relatives, wild weedy cousins of cultivated potatoes we eat today, most of which produce tubers that are too small and bitter to eat.
- These wild relatives have excellent tolerance to extremes, such as heat, drought and freezing temperatures. They also contain genes that help them resist pests and diseases, threats that are becoming worse under climate change.
- The greatest threat to potato farming across the globe is late blight, a wind-borne disease that can destroy a field of potato plants in a matter of weeks. Late blight caused the Irish famine in the 19th century.