The Guatemalan moth pest, that has hit potato crops in many parts of Asturias, (an autonomous community in north-west Spain) continues to affect growers in the area. The Guatemalan potato tuber moth was introduced into the Canary Islands (1998 – 2000) and caused several outbreaks both in potato fields and stores since. The larval stage is the most devastating. It has no other plant host known besides the potato. Many eradication efforts have been ongoing since the outbreaks in order to contain the pest and avoid further spread to Northern European potato production areas. Some producers in Asturias now criticise the official sanctions that they risk if they plant potatoes on their farms.
Marcelino Álvarez, a producer who usually plants potatoes for self-consumption, compares the fines imposed for planting potatoes (ranging from 3,000 to 300,000 Euro) to those imposed for the cultivation of marijuana. “In the end, it’s going to be more risky to plant potatoes than to plant marijuana; it’s ridiculous,” he says. He called for tougher controls on imports and for the analysis of the situation by experts. (Original report by FreshPlaza. Edited by Potato News Today)