PILLAR 2 Contribution to food security

Feeding more people around the world


To feed more people around the world, our breeding program focus on food quality, disease resistance and yield. We also want to increase the nutritional value per m2 cultivated, and in so doing, contribute to the improvement of the global food supply.

There are still major differences in terms of yield per hectare. An average of 47 tonnes is harvested per hectare in Western Europe, whereas the volume is barely 15 tonnes in Russia or China. This major difference is caused, for the most part, by the lack of high-quality seed potatoes and lack of product knowledge and proper mechanisation.

Production is also often limited due to susceptibility to disease. We can substantially increase the yield per hectare by supplying high-quality seed potatoes of varieties with excellent characteristics, in combination with sharing product knowledge and knowledge about cultivation.

Development of adapted varieties

The focus of our breeding strategy is the development of new varieties with high (intrinsic) qualities for cultivation under difficult conditions such as heat or drought, or poor soil.

HZPC is growing internationally. This makes the supply of adapted varieties, especially including to developing countries, increasingly important. One of the most important contributions to food security is the introduction of disease-resistant varieties. This promotes the sustainable cultivation of potatoes and contributes to food security for growers. Sharing information about the cultivation of potatoes in a healthy and responsible manner provides a lot of added value.

With a wide network of test field locations around the world, we have included the most important climates and cultivation conditions in our variety testing. We aim to improve the performance of our varieties even further with research into the best degree of irrigation and fertilisation per variety. R&D conducts projects on stress (heat, drought, poor soil) among other things. Our goal is to increase the yield for growers of seed potatoes as well as the yield for the grower at the final destination.

In 2016/2017 we achieved a relatively good salt tolerance with varieties such as Sagitta and Sifra. In 2018, research into salt-tolerant potato varieties will receive a substantial boost.

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Recently, three new tropical clones were tested at test field locations, in particular for Phytophthora resistance. In these climate zones, there is little or no money for crop protection. The tested varieties are very suitable for a (sub) tropical climate. The first clone has now been applied for registration for the catalogue of varieties.

New potato varieties

HZPC wants to add five new varieties to the catalogue of varieties each year. The following HZPC and Stet varieties (Stet Holland is part of HZPC Holding) were included during recent years:








Number of varieties included in the catalogue of varieties 5 12 8 7 11 13


Blue Star
Magenta love
Viotel Queen

Baby Rose
Double Fun


Cerata KWS*
Delia Red
Elata KWS*
Lavata KWS*

Alverstone Russet
Prince of Orange
Bricata KWS*
SH C 913
SH C 1001
SH C 1010

* With effect from 2015/16, Stet Holland acquired the seed potato activities and assets of KWS Potato

HZPC & hybrid potatoes

Plant breeding is a centuries-old craft and at the same time very relevant when it comes to the availability of sufficient safe and better food for the world’s growing population. With hybrid breeding, new high-quality potato varieties can be cultivated more quickly, with fewer pesticides. With a hybrid, the best of two systems are combined to achieve maximum performance.

Growing hybrid potatoes from seed can make an important contribution to solving the world food problem. Moreover, the transport of seed is considerably more environmentally friendly and cheaper than a container of seed potatoes. HZPC sees many elements in hybridisation with potential for success.

‘Are hybrid potatoes from seed the future?’

Read the interview with R&D Director, Robert Graveland here

Sharing knowledge with customers and growers

As an organisation, we seek close collaboration with our customers and growers worldwide. Our goal is for our chain partners to be successful with our varieties. We therefore offer product-technical support (in the field of agronomy and product management) to chain partners and build commercial relationships with our customers. These direct contacts with chain partners and customers are fostered by an international team consisting of some 90 HZPC employees. Everyone has a direct responsibility to serve our partners in the potato chain as well as possible.

Small farmers big deal

Small farmers, Big deal, an initiative by Agriterra, calls upon agri-food enterprises, the Dutch government and knowledge institutions to give farmers' organisations and cooperatives in developing countries a bigger role to play in Dutch trade, aid and investment policy. HZPC is a member of the initiative group behind Small farmers, Big deal. We join a group of experts from the worlds of business, government, Research & Development and social organisations to consider the strategy and content of the campaign and to place the campaign theme on the agenda in our network.

Reaching more people: exporting to new countries

We want to reach more people around the world with our products each year. In this way we contribute to food security and to a healthy and varied diet. We focus on adding new countries and increasing seed sales. This includes countries that are difficult to access due to war or (limited/non-existent) infrastructure.

From a structural perspective we delivered to 92 countries in 2017 with direct and indirect sales (licensed cultivation). We talk of structural sales if a country purchases seed potatoes for three consecutive years, or in four years out of five.

Giving small scale farmers in Africa access to high-quality seed potatoes

Around 40% of the population of African countries close to the equator live below the poverty line. Helping small scale farmers to improve their food production is extremely important in response to the strong growth in population and demand for food.

Around 99% of local farmers use degenerated, low quality seed potatoes. These seed potatoes only provide a fifth to a third of the yield of high quality seed potatoes. The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture from Switzerland helps small scale farmers in developing countries to achieve a better income through innovation and sustainable agriculture. One of their projects involves giving farmers access to high quality modern varieties of seed potato: 'Seeds2B'. The focus within this project is on potatoes as they can help to provide food security while having a low impact.  

HZPC is a partner of Seeds2B. With its knowledge and strong variety portfolio, HZPC contributes to the development of the market for small scale farmers in this tropical region. Twelve varieties are now officially approved for import to the various countries in the region. We are working hard to increase this number by carrying out various local trials. We have also found some good local partners who take care of local production and distribution of the seed potatoes. We are working on gaining a reputation, gaining greater access to the region, and cooperation within the sector to improve distribution, storage and marketing.

Breeding in developing countries: workshop at the Gates Foundation

The Gates Foundation, set up by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, is focused on improving healthcare worldwide and reducing extreme poverty. The encouragement of breeding locally important crops in developing countries is a key point on the agenda. Among other things, the Gates Foundation organised a three day meeting in 2015 and 2016 about this very topic in conjunction with the CIP (International Potato Centre).

HZPC was invited to give a lecture for a target group of local breeders from various developing countries. Producing and maintaining high quality seed potatoes and initial material is a huge problem in developing countries. The local breeders who attended were shown how a commercial breeding company measures quality, how breeding occurs technically and how this leads to quick progress, objectivity and high quality which meets consumer demand. And finally how you can measure this consumer demand. In 2018, HZPC will once again share knowledge at this meeting.