Deadly disease-resistant Danish potato seeds getting popular for higher yield

  Danish potato seed variety Sarpo Mira, highly resistant to deadly late blight disease, is getting popular among farmers of the country's potato-growing hubs due to its higher output, said farmers and officials. The growers can get 38-42 per cent more output at considerably 20 per cent lower costs by cultivating the Danish let-blight resistant potato variety Sarpo Mira, they said. Giant Agro Processing Ltd (GAPL), a sister concern of Giant Group, imported and developed the seeds for local farmers, said its officials in a recent field visit in Thakurgaon. Four varieties were imported by GAPL in 2011 from Denmark-based Danespo under a joint venture (JV) in a DANIDA (Danish International Development Agency) B2B- supported programme. After trials by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), two varieties -- Sarpo Mira (BARI Alu-77) and Folva -- were approved by the government, said Business Development Manager of GAPL ATM Majharul Mannan. "The two inbreed varieties have been showing excellent result in terms of per hectare yield, size, quality and production cost in the northern districts," he said. "Our 500 contract growers in Thakurgaon, Rangpur, Bogra and Jamalpur have been cultivating Sarpo Mira and Folva for consecutive four seasons," he said. Seeds are being developed through tissue culture at the Giant Agro's state-of-art laboratory in Thakurgaon, he said. He said in 'the regional yield trial', conducted recently for late blight-tolerant potato varieties, the lowest late blight infestation was recorded (1.99 per cent) in Sarpo Mira and the highest was found in traditional Diamante (93.30 per cent). Komol Kumar Sen, a farmer at Debipur Union in Thakurgaon Sadar Upazila told the FE that he grew Sarpo Mira on 6 bighas (1 Bigha=33 decimal) of land for the second time this year. "I'm expecting 100 maunds (per maund=40 kgs) per bigha this year from the Sarpo Mira field at a time when only 55 to 70 maunds of traditional varieties like cardinal, diamante could be harvested", he said. He said cost for fungicide in Sarpo Mira or Folva field is one-fourth compared to that of other varieties. He said input cost is 20-25 per cent less for Danish varieties. Chairman of Giant Group Feroz M Hassan said the fungal infection called 'late blight' wreaks havoc on potato production each year and sometimes farmers lose 25 to 57 per cent of their yield. "Most importantly, the farmers have to spend a huge amount of money to spray chemical fungicides to protect the produce from late blight infestation," he said. "These Danish varieties will save farmers' money which they could have used for spraying fungicides," he added. Managing Director of Giant Group Faruque Hassan said the Danish varieties are suitable for our weather. "Sarpo Mira is strongly advised for organic growing and is able to produce, without fungus protection, a constant high yield in dry and wet weather conditions," said Mr Hassan, also a leading apparel maker. He said commercial sale of seed potatoes will be started under their brand name 'Bangla Seed' from next season. The Danish variety Sarpo Mira has also commercial value as it is suitable for chips industry, he said. Henrik Stroeh, Senior Adviser to the Integrated Farm Management Component (IFMC), a Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) project funded by DANIDA, told the FE that Bangladeshi businesses can import many Danish late-blight tolerant potato varieties. "Cultivating such inbreed varieties, farmers can earn more from their crop fields", he said. However, a field day was observed by Giant Agro on February 6 at Debipur, Thakurgaon. IFMC Project Director Dr Abu Wali Raghib Hassan, Commercial Counselor of the Danish Embassy Soren Robenhagen and IFMC National Adviser Md Munzurul Karim, among others, were present. You can also find the detail news published on The Financial Express in the following link- 

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