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China and Scotland to build £3 million potato laboratory

Staff Writer |
Scottish potato experts have joined forces with China's potato processor Xisen Potato Industry Group to create a 3 million-pound ($3.87 million) potato research facility in Shandong Province.

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Xisen and the Chinese government will fund the lab which will be run in collaboration with potato scientists from the James Hutton Institute, an agricultural research center based in Dundee, Scotland.

The lab will look to breed new varieties of potato and conduct research into storage, processing, pests and disease.

Last year the Chinese government set out guidelines to promote potato consumption and production in China in order to bolster food security.

Scotland's potato crop is recognised within the European Union for its high health status.

Speaking at the Potatoes in Practice conference at the institute's Balruddery Farm this month, Xisen general manager Hu Baigeng said the potato is China's fourth most important staple behind rice, wheat and corn.

"We are a commercial, market-focused company and we have a long-term collaboration with James Hutton already," Hu said. "We're not just looking for bigger and bigger potatoes, we are looking for new varieties with high dry matter for processing but which also look nice."

China is the world's largest producer and consumer of potatoes, though per capita consumption is below that of the US and Europe.

China's vice minister of agriculture Yu Xinrong said last summer that the development of the potato industry is an important step in China's agricultural development.

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