The North-Western Potato Growers (NEPG) kicked 2021 off with an announcement that several organisational and leadership changes came into effect on the 1st of January.
In a press release issued this week, NEPG says that it started the year without representation from Britain. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in the UK decided not to continue its membership of NEPG in 2021. It will from now on function with four countries as members – Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France.
NEPG further announced that Victor Phaff from the Netherlands stepped down as NEPG secretary at end of December 2020 and is currently replaced by Daniel Ryckmans from Belgium.
Victor Phaff was the first secretary of the NEPG. Victor joined the informal group of growers and growers representatives in 1999. It was under his leadership that the NEPG got its official name and logo, and later thanks to his input, received official status as a foundation. Victor progressively led the informal structure into a better organised and structured institution. The NEPG is now considered as a reliable source of information, not only for growers but for the whole supply chain.
On January the 1st, part of the official members of the Foundation were renewed and installed. In alphabetical order, the official representatives of the Foundation are Guy Depraetere (ABS representative) from Belgium, Alain Dequeker (UNPT representative) from France, Michael Heintges (REKA Rheinland) from Germany and Bert Timmermans (VTA) from the Netherlands. In addition to these 4 country representatives, 2 other board members were named: Jaap Botma (VTA, NL) who is the first official chairman of the NEPG and Daniel Ryckmans as new NEPG secretary (Fiwap, B).
Jaap Botma, current VTA chairman, is the first NEPG chairman to be elected as such. He officially started as chairman on July 1st 2020 and will assure this role for at least another 12 months. The idea of having a permanent chairman is to support the secretary and find out how NEPG can develop in future.
Daniel Ryckmans has been working for more than 25 years for the Fiwap in Belgium. He started as new NEPG secretary on January 1st.
The going of Victor Phaff and the arrival of Daniel Ryckmans coincide not only with a new decade, but also the start of a new period for potato growers and the potato industry as a whole. After more than 20 years of growth and development, 2020 saw the whole potato world shaken due to Covid-19. For the first time in decades, the total potato area planted could significantly go down in 2021. Markets and prices might still take months to fully recover.
In the coming months and years, the role of NEPG as information source (free buy prices, contract prices and conditions, area and production statistics, processing activity, import and export figures,…) will remain crucial for growers throughout the EU-04. The following organisations are active members of the NEPG (in alphabetical order): ABS (B), FIWAP (B), FWA (B), PCA (B), REKA (D), UNPT (F) and VTA (NL).