Exploring the Potential of using HTPS for variety registration in Ethiopia: Consultative workshop

Hybrid True Potato Seed (HTPS) is a new technology that has the potential to revolutionize potato production in Ethiopia. It is not possible to use TPS for potato mainly because of segregation and the use of tuber has affected rapid multiplication and marketing of potato seed. HTPS is believed to solve such problem.  As a result, it is critical to explore possible ways of introducing and registering hybrid potato varieties that can be propagated through HTPS in Ethiopia.

In terms of variety release protocol, Ethiopia currently has a protocol for tubers and no practice of employing HTPS. As a result, ENSP organized and facilitated a consultative workshop on January 31st, 2023 at Bishoftu. The objective of the workshop was to present the concept of HTPS, build a shared understanding of its significance among stakeholders, and investigate the feasibility of utilizing HTPS as seed source for variety registration in Ethiopia. The session was attended by more than 19 individuals representing breeders, Ethiopia Agriculture Authority, Ministry of Agriculture, Solynta seed company, Sola agro plc, development partners representatives, and ENSP project staff.

In his introductory remarks, Dr. Mohammed Hassena, ENSP project manager, highlighted the purpose of the consultation session. According to Dr. Mohammed, ENSP is cooperating with local and international private seed companies to enhance Ethiopia’s seed sector. One of the international seed firms collaborating with ENSP is Solynta. Solynta, a Dutch potato breeding company, has developed hybrid potato varieties, has experience of using HTPS as seed source, and has invested in developing varieties. This company is enthusiastic about introducing and registering its hybrid varieties in Ethiopia through HTPS. Dr. Mohammed added that ENSP organized this consultation meeting with key stakeholders to look into the possibilities of employing HTPS as seed source for variety registration in Ethiopia.

Dr. Mohammed Hassena, ENSP project manager, making opening speech

Charles Miller, the commercial director of Solynta made a presentation depicting the general concept of developing hybrid varieties and its advantage. In his presentation Charles pointed out that Solynta, a potato breeding company in the Netherlands, has developed hybrid potato varieties. He also said use of HTPS is a new technology that has the potential to revolutionize potato production in Ethiopia. It is a more efficient seed production technique, help to produce clean and disease-free True Seed, lower logistic and seeding costs (25-100g TPS vs 3,000kg tubers for 1 ha). Currently Solynta has registered 2 varieties in different countries is planning to register these varieties in Ethiopia. The varieties are meant for table consumption and they don’t have special attribute. The testing will help stakeholders learn how HTPS works together.” said Charles. Then, participants raised both technical and variety registration related questions, which were thoroughly discussed.

Charles Miller, the commercial director of Solynta

Mr. Fiseha Teshome from Ethiopian Agricultural Authority made presentation on the Ethiopian experience in variety registration. Mr. Fiseha’s presentation titled “Variety registration procedure in Ethiopia: Existing and future plan” discussed on key pillars of the registration process. Focusing on potato variety registration, Fiseha said that there are 37 potato varieties that have been registered so far. From these varieties only three are registered by private seed companies. Fiseha stressed that in the registration mechanism there is no any protocol on how to register potato varieties using HTPS. In his conclusion Fiseha expressed that EAA strive to do the registration of hybrid varieties using HTPS in Ethiopia. The draft seed proclamation provides three different alternatives for variety registration. There will be some crops in which their trial management will be handled by the EAA itself, handled by the company itself with a close monitoring by EAA and there will be some crops in which only the DUS report is requested without conducting any trials. Participants then raised questions and issues which were discussed thoroughly.

In the conclusion of the workshop Charles Miller a Commercial Director from Solynta appreciated participants for the positive and open-minded discussion. In his concluding remark, Mr. Fiseha appreciated ENSP project for organizing and facilitating the workshop. He also said that the authority is ready to work with Solynta to bring and register better hybrid varieties which will transform the potato production at country level.  He also said seed companies can apply for registration online through the authority’s platform.