The World Potato Congress (WPC) highlights global potato industry successes on its website. For example, In Kenya, the potato sector is evolving with increased mechanization, leading to higher yields and reduced losses. In Uganda’s Zombo District, collaborative efforts have introduced advanced agricultural practices, benefiting small-scale farmers. These stories along with others from countries like Ethiopia, the Philippines and Yemen, underscore the importance of collaboration, innovation, and knowledge-sharing in the potato industry.
News Sept 2023
NEPG raises alarm on falling potato prices: Challenges and hopes in Northwestern Europe’s agriculture
Northwestern Europe’s potato prices have sharply declined, causing concern among growers. The Northwest European Potato Growers (NEPG) highlights that the drop is due to increased contracted volumes and a rise in non-storable potatoes. While the market shows low demand, the NEPG advises growers to remain cautious and emphasizes the long-term market’s strength. They stress the importance of storage and urge stakeholders to ensure a conducive environment for future cultivation.
McCain Foods has launched a podcast, “Hot Potato,” focusing on regenerative agriculture and its role in tackling climate change and reshaping the food industry. The series aims to clarify sustainable farming’s complexities and highlight its importance in addressing climate-related challenges. Max Koeune, CEO of McCain Foods, praised the initiative and its diverse guests. The inaugural episode, “Can we farm without harm?”, discusses the impact of industrial agriculture on climate, biodiversity, and soil health, emphasizing the need for sustainable farming methods.
World Potato Congress Inc.’s President, Peter VanderZaag, welcomes Tuberosum Technologies Inc. as a Silver Sustaining Partner. Tuberosum, a Canadian based potato R&D company, emphasizes efficiency and sustainability in potato production. They run breeding programs in Canada, the Netherlands, and Chile, aiming to develop resilient potato varieties with higher yields and resistance to stresses. These efforts not only benefit growers but also reduce environmental impact. Tuberosum’s goal is to enhance global food supply through traditional breeding methods.
In 2022, the Northwestern U.S. witnessed a surge in potato sales, according to a report by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NAAS). Idaho’s sales rose by 35% to $1.41 billion, while Oregon and Washington saw increases of 12% and 33%, respectively. Although Idaho and Oregon’s potato production decreased by 9% and 2%, Washington’s grew by 4%. Collectively, these states contributed 61% to U.S. potato production. However, overall potato processing across eight states dipped by 1%.
The global frozen potato market is projected to reach $92.63 billion by 2030, up from $65.06 billion in 2022, according to The Insight Partners. This surge is driven by the growing demand for ready-to-eat foods and the popularity of convenience items. Key industry players are expanding through mergers and innovative product launches. The rising number of dual-income families and single households further fuels the demand for frozen potato products.
The GRIMME Group showcased its equipment innovations at the VDMA Information Exchange in Kassel on 26-27 September 2023. They introduced ‘ChangeSep’, a hydraulically interchangeable separator for modern GRIMME harvesters, allowing a swift change between finger web and deflection rollers. This innovation caters to the diverse needs of farms cultivating various crops on different soils. Another highlight was ‘SmartFold’, a patent-pending folding mechanism for mounted windrowers, designed for efficient potato harvesting. Both ‘ChangeSep’ and ‘SmartFold’ received silver medals from the DLG ‘AGRITECHNICA Innovation Award’.
On Thursday, September 14 2023, potato breeder Royal HZPC Group B.V. became the target of a form of cybercrime. A large amount of money was transferred by criminals to their bank account. On Tuesday, September 26 2023, Royal HZPC Group B.V. announced with a reasonable level of certainty that the money is in blocked bank accounts and out of the hands of criminals. The company has started the necessary legal procedures to recover the money and assumes it will be successful.
Scientists at Nigeria’s National Roots Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) are urged to enhance potato varieties’ resistance to diseases for sustainable food security. This call was made during the Potato Green Field Day at Plateau State University, emphasizing the role of technology in boosting potato yields and farmers’ economic power. The events aim to promote new technologies and Good Agricultural Practices. Potato late blight, a significant threat in Nigeria, destroyed 32,000 hectares of potatoes in Plateau State in 2022.
HarvestEye, a crop insights tool, has appointed Harry Tinson as its new general manager. Tinson brings expertise from global B2B sales in engineering and transport. Previously overseeing JCB’s international network and working with Wrightbus, he will now focus on enhancing HarvestEye’s technology and expanding its market presence. HarvestEye offers visibility on crop variability during harvesting. Tinson aims to establish HarvestEye as a global leader in crop insights. Vidyanath Gururajan, HarvestEye’s managing director, highlighted Tinson’s experience as crucial for their growth ambitions.
Ontario’s Alliston region is buzzing with potato harvest activities. Dr. Eugenia Banks of the Ontario Potato Board highlights the importance of maintaining tuber temperatures between 10-15C for storage, cautioning against warmer temperatures that can cause rot. P & K Vander Zaag Farms reports a healthy Lamoka crop, while in Melancthon, Andrew Tupling’s Caribou russets yield impressively. However, growth cracks are more prevalent this year across varieties.
Researchers at Northeastern Agricultural University in Harbin, China, examined the distribution and growth of potatoes in salt-affected regions. Potatoes face challenges in saline soils, impacting growth and yield. Salinization affects over half of the world’s cropland, leading to significant economic losses. Salt stress in potatoes results in reduced quality and yield. Advances in potato genome research have identified genes and pathways related to salt tolerance. The study emphasizes the need for salt-tolerant potato varieties, especially in regions with saline-alkali conditions.
Kiremko, a leader in potato processing, strengthens ties between India and the Netherlands through sustainable practices and innovation. During the Dutch trade mission to India, Kiremko formed key partnerships, notably with Asandas and Haldiram/SK International, both for flake lines with a 2,400 kg/hr capacity. These collaborations aim to revolutionize potato processing in India, emphasizing Kiremko’s commitment to sustainability and customer satisfaction.
Crop.zone, a leading innovator in sustainable agtech solutions, has partnered with John Deere to introduce Dual.Volt.24M, a system for electrical and herbicide-free plant care spanning 24 metres. This innovation led to their nomination for the DLG Agrifuture Concept 2023 award. The system’s unique feature is its adjustable applicators and camera-controlled row application, ensuring precise plant care without soil disruption. Their collaboration emphasizes both companies’ dedication to sustainable agtech. Crop.zone will begin pilot testing in 2024, inviting interested farmers to participate.
The Government of Spain has authorized the importation of potatoes from the UK to the Canary Islands, excluding Kent due to the detection of the Colorado beetle. This decision is based on assurances from the UK’s phytosanitary authorities that the pest hasn’t established itself and that the UK has taken measures in affected areas. Imported potatoes must undergo cleaning to remove soil and harmful organisms, with a soil limit of 0.5%. Packaging regulations have also been set.
Agricultural technology influences row crops, specialty crop production, ag retail, and global agribusiness. It impacts the entire food value supply chain. However, with rapid advancements, questions arise about ag tech adoption. On September 27, five ag tech experts will host a free webinar on the State of the Ag Tech Industry, discussing current impacts, future trends, barriers to adoption, and predictions for 2024.
Wet conditions in Aroostook County are threatening its multimillion-dollar potato crop. Persistent rainfall has caused sodden fields, preventing the harvesting of potatoes and raising concerns about rot. Aroostook County produces approximately 90% of Maine’s potatoes. This is the first time in over a decade that such wet conditions have affected the county’s farmers. Recent heavy rains, including those from a tropical storm, have exacerbated the situation. Experts emphasize the need for drier days to ensure a healthy crop.
In Ireland, potato home consumption and retail sales have stabilized due to colder weather, as per the Irish Farmers Association. New season Rooster potatoes are entering the market, but harvesting is tough due to late planting effects. In the UK, maincrop buyers aim to revert prices to contract levels, with more growers storing crops. France’s crop yield is predicted to be slightly below the decade’s average, with potential tight supplies in Europe due to increased demand.
Global fertilizer crisis spurs shift to sustainable farming solutions, humates getting more attention from American farmers
The global agricultural industry faces challenges from rising fertilizer prices, influenced by the Ukraine conflict, energy costs, and trade policies. A World Bank report noted a 66% increase in fertilizer prices since 2021. This crisis highlights the need for regenerative agriculture, focusing on soil health. Live Earth Products, a Utah-based company, promotes sustainable farming with products like humic and fulvic acid. Their solutions aim to reduce reliance on fertilizers, ensuring crop quality.
In 2022, Alberta’s potato industry showcased unprecedented growth, contributing $2.87 billion to Canada’s economy. Representing 150 growers, the Potato Growers of Alberta highlighted the industry’s expansion potential. With Alberta accounting for 60% of Canada’s net international seed potato exports, the region’s high-quality production and collaboration among stakeholders have positioned it as a dominant force in the potato market. The future looks promising for Alberta’s potato sector.
The Canary Islands have declined Madrid’s solution to the potato shortage caused by a poor harvest and a blockade on British imports due to a beetle outbreak. Madrid suggested importing from other UK regions, but this is hindered by protective agricultural regulations. The shortage has led to supply gaps and price surges. The delay in seed imports from the UK also threatens future harvests.
The World Potato Congress (WPC) has introduced Blair Richardson as its newest board director. WPC President, Dr. Peter VanderZaag, expressed his enthusiasm for Richardson’s addition, highlighting his previous role as an International Advisor to WPC. Richardson, the CEO of Potatoes USA since 2013, has extensive experience in the potato industry and has served on various industry boards. He is an advocate for the potato’s reputation and employs proactive marketing strategies.
‘Potatoes Forever!’ campaign launched in Europe to promote sustainable practices in the potato industry
Europe has initiated a €3.2 million “POTATOES FOREVER!” campaign, spanning three years in France and Italy, to educate the public about sustainable practices in the potato sector. Funded 80% by the European Union, the campaign aims to highlight the industry’s efforts in biodiversity protection, water conservation, and eco-friendly farming. The initiative responds to consumers’ growing demand for transparency in food production and sustainability.