Trust uses 'crowdfunding' to finance new potato variety

The Sarvari Research Trust has (SRT) turned to "crowdfunding" to finance its development of a blight-resistant potato variety.

The trust, whose financial difficulties were reported in Grower (31 August), aims to raise £5,000 over the next 100 days to develop its Crow (short for Crowdfunded) potato. Contributors are asked to assist in growing and cooking the potatoes, and will be invited to an event at the trust's north Wales headquarters next March.

"This will be the first potato variety to be selected and characterised with help from volunteer supporters who will do some simple experiments and report back with their findings to the trust," said director of research Dr David Shaw.

"This is a kind of participatory plant breeding that is often practiced in developing countries where farmers do trialling of a collection of potential varieties."

The trust hit £1,000 from professional and amateur backers within five days of launching, even though there is no direct return on the investments. Shaw added that further funding could be raised this way in future.

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