The start-up was created at the end of 2016 by Portuguese and Irish shareholders and focuses on delivering virus-free, generation 1 plant material to farmers across Europe.
In the last few years there has been a tremendous growth in the sweet potato market in Europe, with an annual rate of more than 12% and total consumption reaching more than 300,000 metric tons (MT) in 2017.
Much of this extreme growth is due to the increasing understanding of the European market of the nutritive and health benefits of the sweet potato, which is now considered by many to be a superfood, the company said.
This growth is also due to the development of different sweet potato varieties, colors and tastes, it added.
The European consumption market has mainly been satisfied by imports as growers in Europe do not have a good and diverse sweet potato plant material supply in order to achieve a better crop, the company said.
NativaLand – owned 50/50 by Orientempo SA, a Portuguese entrepreneurial group, and Beotanics Ltd, an Irish company involved and innovating in the genetic selection, breeding and propagation of plants – built the European Sweet Potato Centre in Muge, Portugal.
It is already developing, testing, producing and shipping sweet potato plants to farmers across Europe.
The company said the NativaLand project will contribute significantly to the growth of sweet potato production in Europe, in a market where consumption per capita is still much lower than in the U.S.
The “Premio Nacional de Agricultura” (National Prize for Agriculture) was awarded to NativaLand on March 1.