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Potato conference hears of more post-Brexit fears for Scottish growers

The loss of the European export market following Brexit represented a blow to Scottish seed potato growers, but the sector faces a number of additional challenges to its continued existence, a major potato conference heard yesterday.

The SAC Association of Potato Producers (SACAPP) annual conference, hosted by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), took place place online on Wednesday January 26. The organiser was Dr Philip Burgess, lead researcher and consultant for Scottishpotatoes.org – a partnership between SRUC, the James Hutton Institute and Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).

As The Scotsman reports, the lack of transport infrastructure and port facilities suitable to allow growers to secure new export markets, the inexorable rise in the area of land infected by potato cyst nematode and the threat of the industry contracting to a level below which it lost critical mass were all revealed as major hurdles faced by the industry.

But Patrick Hughes, who fronts the recently set up Scottish Agriculture Exports Hub – run jointly by NFU Scotland and SAOS – revealed that these problems were among the issues to be addressed in a seed sector strategy, due to be drawn up this spring.

The conference also heard a cautionary tale from Northern Ireland. Colm McDonnell of the IPM potato group said that as producers in the country had converted to growing ware crops and producing cereals and livestock, the Irish seed sector had collapsed.

Source: The Scotsman. Read the full story here

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