"This would mean a lot more money to smallholders in Africa who can barely afford to send their children to school, purchase a nutritionally balanced diet, and access medical care."

—Dr. Marc Ghislain of the International Potato Center (CIP) Kenya Office

– End the Plant Disease that Caused the Irish Potato Famine – 

The 2Blades Foundation is a principal sponsor of a project that recently developed a durable solution for late-blight potato disease which helped cause the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s, leading to the deaths of a million Irish people and at least 100,000 citizens of other nations.

The discovery is of historic importance, and now 2Blades is seeking partners to help bring this disease-resistant potato variety to market and fight hunger in Africa.

Potatoes are the world’s third-most important food crop, producing nutritious food more quickly, on less land, and in harsher climates than any other major crop. Over half the world’s potatoes are grown in developing countries by smallholder or subsistence farmers.

Cisgenic Victoria Potatoes (Left) are green and healthy and require no fungicides

Yet even today, late blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans remains one of the most destructive crop diseases globally, affecting more than 7 million acres of cultivated potato and causing an estimated $10 billion in economic losses in developing countries each year.

In Kenya and Uganda, where over 1 million smallholder farmers now grow potatoes, late-blight disease can destroy up to 70 percent of their crop. Farmers in wealthier nations spray fungicide to protect potato crops, but these treatments may be unavailable or unaffordable in developing countries.

Our partners’ new disease-resistant potato variety can boost African farmers’ production, increase their incomes, and improve their families’ health.

According to our partner in Kenya, Dr. Marc Ghislain of the International Potato Center (CIP), the new disease-resistant potato has been tested in Uganda fields for the past 5 years and “consistently displayed complete resistance, not needing a single drop of chemical fungicide.” Marc worked very closely with Dr. Alex Barekye at Uganda’s National Agriculture Organization, which hosted and ran the trials.

Potatoes Affected by Late Blight, with Resistant Cisgenic Victoria Variety in Background

Potato Plants Affected by Late Blight, with New Resistant Cisgenic Victoria Variety Potato in Background

This “would mean a lot more money to smallholders in Africa who can barely afford to send their children to school, purchase a nutritionally balanced diet, and access medical care,” Dr. Marc Ghislain says. CIP estimates that farmers’ incomes can be increased by 40 percent with the new resilient potato variety.

Farmers in Uganda are eager to try the 3R Victoria potato. The funds we are raising would be used to bring this potato variety to market by supporting activities to gather performance and safety data from field trials for regulatory approvals and to promote communications and education about the product.  The goal is to deliver it to national potato programs in African countries for bulking and distribution by their standard channels.

2Blades’ scientists manage and advance lab research into field trials to develop disease-resistant staple crop seeds which then remain accessible to smallholder farmers in developing nations.  In its 15 years of work 2Blades has made major contributions toward the development of disease-resistant varieties in wheat, potatoes, corn, soybeans, and other crops—helping to improve farmers’ income, nutrition, and health, while reducing dependence on chemical pesticides.

Contribute: Go to the bottom of this page and click on the CONTRIBUTE link to help end the disease that caused the Irish Potato Famine and help people in Africa become more food secure. 

Get Involved: Contact Mike Kelleher at 2Blades at mk1@2blades.org to learn how you can help millions of smallholder farmers across the developing world still affected by this pathogen.

Learn more:

  • View this video showing our partners’ work on potatoes in Africa. 
  • Read our blog about how the Irish Potato Famine led to advancements in science and eventually to 2Blades’ work in plant disease.
  • See the technical description of the project here.
  • Visit our website to see how we use science to promote food security and respond to climate change.

To Contribute Go to the Bottom of this Page or go to EndTheBlight.com