Nairobi, Kenya, has been selected to host the 2026 World Potato Congress, a significant global event aimed at fostering partnerships to enhance food systems, food security, and international trade. This marks the first time the biennial congress will be held in sub-Saharan Africa. It is expected to boost potato production, employment, and sustainable agriculture in the region, while also providing a robust platform for networking, knowledge sharing, and investment in the potato sector.
European frozen fry imports on thin ice: South Africa revives anti-dumping duties
The South African government has reinstated anti-dumping duties on frozen potato chips imported from the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium after these imports were found to be undercutting local industry. While industry stakeholders praised the decision, concerns were raised about potential price increases for restaurants and shops. The number of potato farmers in South Africa has decreased by 14% over the past decade due to competitive pressures and production challenges, and further decline is expected.
‘From waste to wealth’: South African potato industry aims to unlock the potential of cull potatoes
Potatoes South Africa and the University of Pretoria have secured funding for a project to create a new value chain for ‘cull’ potatoes. The three-phase approach includes a detailed market research study, innovative product development, and the creation of a secondary market for these potatoes as feed for high protein insects. Stakeholders globally are invited to collaborate and contribute ideas, potentially revolutionizing waste potato utilization and enhancing the industry’s sustainability.
New East African Potato Breeding Network to accelerate development of better varieties, improve crop yield
The 1st East Africa Potato Network Breeders Meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together potato experts from the region to discuss challenges, opportunities, and breeding strategies to improve crop yield. The newly established East Africa Potato Breeding Network aims to facilitate collaboration, enhance understanding of genetic and environmental factors in potato breeding, and accelerate the development of improved potato varieties.
The future of agriculture in Rwanda: IoT app for potatoes promises enhanced efficiency and food security
Clemence Uwamutarambirwa, a 24-year-old trained in IoT at the Catholic University of Rwanda, developed an app that monitors soil quality, temperature, and automates irrigation using sensors in a potato greenhouse. The app aims to tackle food insecurity and boost agricultural sustainability. It features interconnected sensors for moisture, humidity, and smart irrigation, and sends data to greenhouse managers. The app also enhances security with sound and motion sensors.
Kenyan small-holder potato farmers to benefit from climate-smart innovations
More than 20,000 small-holder potato farmers in Kenya’s Nakuru County will benefit from several programmes aligned to climate-smart innovations and technologies to help them increase potatoes production both for domestic consumption and for export. Governor Susan Kihika said her administration was working to equip agricultural extension officers working with small holder farmers to train the farmers on modern farming practices that will mitigate against risks like drought, floods, climate-induced pests and diseases.
McCain opens Farm of the Future in South Africa to ‘boost potato cultivation’
McCain Foods Limited, one of South Africa’s leading frozen food manufacturers, has opened its Farm of the Future Africa in Lichtenburg, in the country’s North West province. This is the second of three locations planned by 2025, aimed at gaining a better understanding of regenerative agricultural practices and their impact, costs, and benefits. The initiative, called McCain’s Farms of the Future, was first launched in Canada in 2020.
Abundant potato production in Egypt marks successful season, exceeds last year’s volumes despite weather challenges
The potato season is starting in Egypt and is marked by abundant production, high demand, stable prices, and no particular challenges except for a few shipment complications. Mohammad Hassan, export manager of Al Gamal-Plantix, gave an overview of the upcoming season to Youness Bensaid of FreshPlaza, saying that potato production in Egypt has been abundant this year.
French fry crisis in South Africa? McCain says it ‘can not process frozen fries at the usual capacity’
The so-called “load shedding” is reportedly impacting the manufacturing of frozen French fries in South Africa, causing a shortage at some retailers and restaurants. Load shedding in the country refers to an ongoing period of widespread national blackouts of electricity supply. McCain Foods indicated it cannot process frozen French fries at the usual capacity because of this.
Kenya to supply KFC and global restaurant chains with homegrown potatoes
KFC and other global restaurant chains will soon be prohibited from importing pre-cut potatoes, as part of a policy change aimed at increasing the capacity of local farmers to supply these international establishments. Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said: “We foresee that all varieties of potatoes used in KFC [restaurants] and other international food chains will be sourced from Kenya in the future..”
Boosting the potato industry in South Africa: Western Cape Agriculture and Potatoes SA sign landmark MOU
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) and Potatoes SA have embarked on a strategic partnership by signing a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen the potato industry, stimulate economic growth, and create new job opportunities. As South Africa’s most widely consumed staple food, potatoes are essential in preparing various meals, with the sector currently providing employment for an estimated 55,000 individuals.
FPS Food Process Solutions expands global reach with new offices in Morocco and Mexico
FPS Food Process Solutions, a leading provider of freezing and cooling equipment, has announced the opening of its new Middle East/Africa (MEA) office in the Tanger Med port facility in Morocco. Serving as a regional hub, the FPS MEA office will enhance logistics and operational efficiency across the Middle East and Africa. In addition to the Morocco office, FPS revealed the launch of a facility in Monterrey, Mexico, in March. This facility will oversee the Latin American market, including countries such as Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, and Peru.
Egypt achieves record potato exports to Southeast Asia amid rising regional demand
Egypt experienced a significant surge in potato exports to Southeast Asia in 2022, according to a recent news report by EastFruit. The North African nation exported over 17,000 tonnes of potatoes to Southeast Asian countries last year, marking a 120% increase compared to 2021 and an 18-fold increase compared to 2020. As a result, Southeast Asia now ranks as the fourth-largest market for Egyptian potatoes.
Upcoming WPC webinar to focus on the importance of late blight resistant biotech potatoes in Africa
The World Potato Congress Inc. is pleased to announce its March webinar with Dr. Marc Ghislain and Dr. Eric Magembe. The webinar is scheduled to be presented live on Tuesday March 21, 2023 at 10:00am EST (Canada/USA). The webinar is titled “Deployment of late blight resistant biotech potatoes in Africa”.
Could Kenyan farmers soon start supplying potatoes to KFC?
Fast food companies in Kenya are increasingly turning to local potato farmers to supply their needs, according to a news report by Jacktone Lawi, published by The Star. Previously, major brands such as KFC had sourced their potatoes from South Africa and Egypt. However, a new consortium has been formed to help smallholder farmers increase yields and reduce post-harvest losses.
PepsiCo brings hybrid potato seed to Ethiopia
Senselet Food Processing PLC (Senselet), PepsiCo’s Ethiopia-based foods unit, has teamed up with Dutch hybrid potato innovator Solynta to bring hybrid true potato seeds (HTPS) to Ethiopia, as Zachary Sosland reports for Baking Business. PepsiCo already has invested $40 million in Ethiopian potato chip production, and this new partnership makes it the leading Ethiopian potato processing company.
‘Growing the Potato Crop’: Irish potato manual a ‘game changer’ for East African farmers
Irish international development agency Vita launched the book ‘Growing the Potato Crop’ by former Teagasc stalwart and renowned potato expert John Burke a few years ago. The book, which is expected to be a significant game changer for potato farmers in East Africa, focusses on improving potato productivity in sub Saharan Africa. Iverk Produce has uploaded the 395 page book as a pdf file on its website.
UK govt invests US$18.5M in Kenya’s first potato and sweet potato processing facility
The UK government has begun work on a US$18.5 million production facility for Irish and sweet potato processing in Elgeyo Marakwet county in Kenya. The processing plant will have a 60,000-tonne capacity. The factory, according to Jane Marriot, the British High Commissioner to Kenya, will ensure stable farm prices for over 10,000 smallholder potato farmers in the county and region.
Solynta and FreshCrop sign hybrid potato collaboration agreement in Kenya
Solynta, hybrid potato breeding technology company from The Netherlands and FreshCrop Limited, Kenya’s largest producer of seed tubers, have signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of hybrid true potato innovation in Kenya. By joining forces, the companies will work closely to facilitate future introduction of high quality hybrid potato seed tubers produced from hybrid true potato seeds.
South Africa: No shortage of French fries after ‘anti-dumping’ ruling, sufficient supply of fresh potatoes
The local potato industry has assured South Africans that it would be able to meet local demand for French fries after heavy “anti-dumping” duties were imposed by the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) in July last year on Belgium, German and Dutch suppliers. Potatoes SA acting marketing manager, Jaco Koekemoer, said the country has a sufficient supply of fresh potatoes, with forecasts looking promising over the next 12 months.
Challenges and opportunities for South African potato farmers
Even as South Africa’s potato industry feels the weight of adverse production conditions, high input costs and rolling blackouts, producers have reason for optimism, reports Glenneis Kriel in a news article for Farmers Weekly. The local potato sector aims to increase annual production from about 2,6 million tons to 3,2 million tons over the next five years, according to Dirk Uys, research and innovation manager at Potatoes South Africa.
South African potato farmers ending year ‘under immense pressure’
South Africa’s potato farmers are ending the year off under immense pressure. And although industry players are optimistic about the industry’s future, it will be years before the industry recovers and farms return to previous levels of profitability, as Duncan Masiwa reports for Food For Mzansi. As it stands, potato farmers in the country are not turning in profits.
Video: CIP – Innovations towards sustainable agri-food system transformation
For almost 50 years, the International Potato Center’s (CIP) research and development work in potato and sweetpotato agri-food systems has contributed to greater food and nutrition security, and economic growth, while conserving today’s biodiversity for the future. This video brings together some of the most achievements and impacts for millions of small-scale farmers and resource-poor consumers worldwide.
Potatoes South Africa announces research priorities, encourages suggestions for new ideas
Potatoes SA recently announced its research priorities for 2023. The industry body says in a news post on its website that the main intention of its research initiatives is to support potato growers in South Africa in optimising their production efficiency. The organization says it further intends to foster “a better understanding of the local potato market, as well as exploring future opportunities in creating consumer demand for potatoes in the country.”
South Africa: French fry import tariffs remain a ‘hot potato’
The general manager of Merlog Foods, told Farmer’s Weekly that the price of frozen French fries had almost doubled over the past year in South Africa due to the introduction of import tariffs, which, according to him, created a shortage of French fries on the market. However, Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes SA, stressed that the import tariffs, which amounted to 23% for Belgium, 104% for the Netherlands and 181% for German suppliers, were necessary to protect the local industry against “dumping” and did not affect food security in South Africa.