Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

March 17, 2015 10:16 ET

Harper Government Invests in Potato Research and Development

FREDERICTON, NEW BRUNSWICK--(Marketwired - March 17, 2015) - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Parliamentary Secretary Gerald Keddy, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, along with Member of Parliament Mike Allen, today announced an investment of $1.83 million in a Canadian-led international research effort to give potato farmers a technological edge in predicting and preventing yield losses in their fields and in storage.

The collaborative research effort with several industry partners will be led by scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Potato Research Centre in Fredericton. Researchers from Canada, France and New Zealand will use new discoveries about potato DNA, microbial life in the soil and insect behavior to find better ways to measure the health and quality of potato plants and tubers.

This investment under Growing Forward 2 has helped leverage $821,800 in industry contributions. Project partners include BioNB, Comité Nord Plants des Pommes de Terre, Quebec-based potato operations Ferme Daniel Bolduc Inc. and Maxi-Sol Inc., Plant and Food Research New Zealand, Potatoes New Brunswick and France-based company CCL.

Quick facts

  • Researchers will use a new generation of powerful computer-based gene sequencers to identify genes in potato DNA that indicates when the plant experiences stress, with the goal of using these genes as markers for diagnostic tools on the farm.
  • DNA sequencing will also be used to identify the billions of species of microbial life in the soil and to study their impact on potato common scab.
  • The AAFC investment in the project is made through the Industry-led Research and Development stream of Agriculture Canada's AgriInnovation Program, a five-year, up to $698-million initiative under Growing Forward 2.


The Canadian potato industry is a major economic driver in this country with annual farm and processing sales of more than $2 billion. This international collaboration brings together the research and technical resources of three countries to put the best possible science in the hands of our potato growers to create economic and environmental benefits.

- Parliamentary Secretary Gerald Keddy (South Shore-St. Margaret's)

We are pleased to be participating in this project since collaboration and knowledge sharing are keys to success and to major discoveries, both in fundamental research and in field applications for producers and food processors.

- Dr. Virginie Gobert-Deveaux, Director of Research and Development, Comité Nord Plants de Pommes de Terre

This is a great example of bio-technology being used to develop innovative strategies to meet challenges in one of our traditional sectors. We look forward to working with our partners and commercializing the resulting technologies that will lead to increased yields and overall profits for farmers and a stronger and more sustainable potato industry.

- Meaghan Seagrave, Executive Director, BioNB

Additional links

- Growing Forward 2 (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

- AgriInnovation Program (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

- Bio New Brunswick (BioNB)

Follow us on Twitter: @AAFC_Canada


The research will focus on three major causes of potato yield loss: the spread of the virus PVY by aphids, potato common scab caused by a bacterial disease and a condition in storage called cold sweetening that reduces the colour quality of potatoes when they are fried.

The larger goals are to find methods to decrease diseases in the field and to have research that can be used by software and hardware developers to create hand-held diagnostic devices for potato farmers. The instruments could be used to quickly sample plants and tubers in the field and storage for a wide range of health and quality issues.

The Comité Nord Plants de Pommes de Terre, representing 100 researchers and 450 potato producers in France, is investing an additional $180,000 in the project.

Ferme Daniel Bolduc is a potato growing operation in Périkonka, Quebec. Maxi-Sol is a potato farm in Saint Paul de Joliette, Quebec. Both have invested in the project and will be in involved in field plot research.

Plant and Food Research New Zealand is a crown research institute that will help evaluate the cold storage management of potatoes and look for genetic indicators of resistance to cold sweetening.

CCL is a French company that produces mineral and vegetable oils that can be sprayed on potato plants to prevent the spread of disease by aphids. The company will join in research to find out exactly why the technique works in order to develop improved field treatments. Oil spraying as a defense against PVY was pioneered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Potato Research Centre.

Potatoes New Brunswick is a producer organization that will be involved in the research into the use of mineral and vegetable oils as a way to inhibit the transmission of PVY by aphids.

BioNB is a not-for-profit agency supporting and promoting innovative bio-economy opportunities in New Brunswick. In this project, it will be looking at commercialization opportunities for Canada in the North American market.

Contact Information

  • Jeff English
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz

    Media Relations
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario