Asia, India, China, Russia, Middle East

Bayer launches ‘GeoPotato’, a new geodata-driven early warning system for late blight in potatoes

Powered by satellite data and powerful analysis models, ‘GeoPotato’ is designed to enable preventive spraying, easier crop protection decisions, and improved farmer incomes. GeoPotato was launched by Bayer as a geodata-driven early warning system for late blight in potatoes, and has entered a full commercial roll-out in Bangladesh. It could potentially reach as many as 1 million smallholder farmers in the coming years.

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South Korea’s Lotteria burger chain seeking potato suppliers ‘other than U.S.’ due to supply chain frustrations

McDonald’s Korea and Lotteria are suffering from frozen potato shortages, scrambling to replace their French fries with chicken nuggets or cheese sticks due to supply chain problems amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Lotte GRS, operator of Lotteria, reportedly said it is seeking other global potato suppliers instead of the U.S., where the fast food franchise imports most of its frozen potatoes from.

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PepsiCo scraps Scottish seed potato exports to Russia

A deal to export 2,000t of Scottish seed potatoes to Russia has been scrapped by PepsiCo following criticism of the arrangement. As Ed Henderson reports for Farmers Weekly, the company said “a couple of lorries” had already left Scottish farms this week, but following discussion with growers, the decision had been made to stop future shipments.

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McCain Foods scraps plans for Russian plant, donates to Red Cross in Ukraine

McCain Foods has scrapped its plan to open a potato processing plant in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. “We have now made the decision to discontinue the project entirely,” Charlie Angelakos, McCain’s vice-president of global external affairs and sustainability said to the CBC in an emailed statement. “In addition, we are also suspending all shipments of our products into the Russian market.”

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McDonald’s to shutter 850 Russia stores after backlash

McDonald’s Corp. is temporarily closing all 850 Russia locations, following mounting criticism that the fast-food chain failed to act quickly following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine, reports Leslie Patton for Bloomberg News. The company will continue paying its 62,000 employees in Russia, McDonald’s said in a letter Tuesday from Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski.

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U.S. fast-food chains and food producers stay open in Russia, and mostly quiet about Ukraine

While technology giants like Apple and luxury retailers like Hermès have quickly moved to pause sales or shutter stores in Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, most U.S. food companies and fast-food chains have remained open — and largely silent, as Julie Creswell reports in this news story for the New York Times. Many large food manufacturers, including PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, and fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Yum Brands are facing growing pressure to halt operations in Russia.

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Late blight disease resistant potatoes: MSU receives $13 million USAID award for research

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Feed the Future Initiative has awarded a five-year, $13 million award for a collaborative partnership led by Michigan State University (MSU).  The Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership will bring late blight disease resistant (LBR) potatoes in farmer-preferred varieties to the Asian countries of Bangladesh and Indonesia, and the African countries of Kenya and Nigeria.

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Mobile solar pump for irrigation in remote areas

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar have developed a solar power system that can be easily moved between farms to pump water for irrigation. The kit comprises solar panels and an inverter to power a surface-mounted pump.

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Singapore hit by french fry shortage amid global disruption

Southeast Asian fast-food chains are being hit by a shortage of French fries as supply-chain snarls slow shipments of the frozen item from the U.S. and Europe. Signs at some of Yum! Brands Inc.’s KFC outlets in Singapore informed customers that the company would replace side orders of fries with potato waffles due to a “global supply disruption.”

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French fry rationing continues in Japan

Earlier this month, you may have heard that McDonald’s Japan announced it was resuming sales of medium and large-size orders of French fries. Coming at the end of a month of fry rationing, many hoped that this was the fried-golden light at the end of the tunnel that they’d been waiting for…but instead, it’s turned out to be just a brief moment of normalcy.

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UK sensor technology to boost agronomy in India

Improved agronomic decisions could soon be a reality for Indian farmers, following the launch of an international sensor technology project. The collaborative work aims to deliver a cost-effective environmental sensor technology to help enhance crop productivity, reduce waste and increase profitability. The project is overseen by CHAP and Terraprima, alongside Indian organic fertiliser company, Organic Solution.

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The great McDonald’s fry shortage is spreading to more countries

In the last couple of months, McDonald’s and KFC outlets in countries across the globe have begun scrimping on French fries and other potato-based products. Writing for Modern Farmer, author Dan Nosowitz pointed to a “lack of versatility” in the global agricultural trade as the root of current problems, as opposed to a shortage of potatoes themselves.

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French fry ‘war’ escalates in Japan with convenience stores now chipping in

As we’ve seen over the past month, the global supply crisis and other factors have taken a huge toll on the supply of potatoes scheduled for the thousands of McDonald’s locations in Japan. Now even convenience stores are getting in on the action with Ministop announcing the Bucket Potato, which boasts three times the regular amount of their X Fried Potatoes for 641 yen.

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China: Potatoes in rice paddies?

A recent article published by a team of CIP scientists in the American Journal of Potato Research finds that integrating potato into rice farming systems in southern China can yield some benefits for smallholder farmers, but also brings some challenges that must be anticipated for achieving optimal yields. According to the article’s lead author, Lao Yu, a research assistant at the China’s High Latitude Crops Institute, rotating rice and potato crops in paddies generates both economic and ecological benefits.

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As McDonald’s Japan restricts French fry sales, rival boosts fry sizes by 25 percent

In December, McDonald’s Japan announced that it would be suspending sales of all French fry orders except smalls due to a potato shortage. Now, rival Japanese fast food chain Freshness Burger announced it will be increasing the amount of French fires in its regular and large-size orders, as well as its combo meals, by 25 percent and without increasing the price.

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Korea’s E Green Global is using cell ag to change the way the world grows potatoes

When we hear the term ‘cellular agriculture’ these days, our minds typically wander to the production of cultivated meat and dairy. But similar techniques also have a part to play in growing fruits, vegetables, and other crops, writes Jack Ellis in an article published by AgFunder Network news. Ellis writes that South Korea’s E Green Global is starting out by creating potato seedlings from tissue cultures in the lab, and hopes to replicate the method with other crops in the near future.

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Technico Agri Sciences certified as a ‘Great Place to Work’

Technico Agri Sciences Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of ITC Limited, is now a Great Place to Work-Certified company by the Great Place to Work Institute. The Certification is recognized around the world by employees and employers alike and is considered the ‘Gold Standard’ in identifying and recognizing Great Workplace Cultures.

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Opinion: China’s ‘new money’ is the potato, thanks to COVID

“The Digital Yuan is no longer relevant. A new currency has been adopted by the People’s Republic of China. The Potato is its name,” writes Jeff Salle in an opinion piece published by CengNews. Salle writes that according to Charles Burton, a China watcher at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, university students in Xian prefer to pay for tutoring with potatoes rather than cash. Do you need cotton swabs in that 13-million-strong city in central China? The currency is potatoes.

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McDonald’s Japan’s French fry rationing extended for about another month

As we approached the end of last year, fast food fans were hit by the news of a French fry shortage in Japan which has most notably affected the chain McDonald’s. For a week the restaurant limited sales to only small-size orders of fries, which are called “Mac Fry Potato” in Japan. At the time, the rationing was attributed to delays caused by the ongoing global supply chain crisis as well as large-scale flooding in British Columbia, Canada, where the potatoes are imported from.

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Global supply crisis: A growing shortage of french fries, from Japan to Kenya

As Miriam Berger reports in an article for The Washington Post, a number of popular items, including marmite and cream cheese, have faced scarcities amid supply chain disruptions wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and extreme weather. Potatoes are the latest to join the list, becoming unevenly available in some countries and fast-food chains because of a confluence of factors.

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USAID and CIP: Using science to revitalize Georgia’s potato sector

In 2019, the USAID Potato Program was launched, an initiative with a straightforward name and a straightforward objective: to give Georgia’s potato farmers the technologies, tools, and training they need to produce high-quality potatoes on a sufficient scale to compete with imports and drive economic growth in their communities. To help farmers overcome key challenges in the sector, USAID brought in the expertise of the International Potato Center (CIP).

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French-fry airlift gives McDonald’s Japan a brief respite during shortage crisis

McDonald’s put medium and large servings of french fries back on its Japanese menu Friday after flying in much-needed supplies, ending a weeklong restriction caused by shortages that have stymied the nation’s food industry. While the restriction has been lifted for now, there is concern that McDonald’s could limit serving sizes once again, depending on inventory levels.

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Ukraine negotiating potato exports to the EU

The State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection addressed the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety with a proposal to consider the possibility of launching Ukrainian potato exports to the European Union. Ukraine and its European colleagues are currently discussing the need to appoint in 2022 inspections by European experts to launch Ukrainian potato exports to the EU.

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