Climate change is making it harder for farmers to grow enough food to feed their families. A new potato variety called CIP-Matilde, developed by the International Potato Center (CIP) with support from the Crop Trust, is the latest example of using the wild relatives of crops to adapt our agriculture to new threats. CIP is preparing to release CIP-Matilde in Peru.
Organizations in the News
Several key UK retailers have pledged to sell disease resistant organic potatoes, boosting sustainability and farm resilience for producers. Organic certification body the Soil Association developed its ‘UK Robust Potato Pledge 2021’ in a bid to help growers move away from potatoes that are susceptible to blight. Signees to the pledge have agreed to favour organic spuds that have been bred to be blight resistant.
In response to the late blight disease of potatoes, the AsiaBlight Network formed a coalition of farmers, scientists, and government officials to develop an integrated approach to managing, and eventually eradicating, late blight disease with an aim to improve nutrition and food security for billions throughout Asia.
A group of leading potato industry stakeholders has drawn up tentative proposals for a new representative body, provisionally called GB Potatoes. They have distanced themselves from the Growers’ Better Levy Group (GBLG), and say their approach is to bring all sectors together via voluntary subscription and membership. A paper on provisional ideas is currently being circulated to stakeholders.
Kevin MacIsaac, who has been General Manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada since October 1, 2011 announced he will be retiring this fall. MacIsaac’s diversified career over a 42 year timespan includes dedicated service as an extension agronomist, farmer, industry organizer and a knowledgeable and eloquent advocate. UPGC hopes to have a replacement for the position by this fall and is actively seeking applications for the GM position at this time.
Weather patterns have continued to influence the outlook for the Canadian potato crop the past couple of weeks, says Kevin MacIsaac in the latest report issued by the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC). He says Eastern Canada (particularly Prince Edward Island) has received record amounts of rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Ida. The province of Manitoba has also received some rainfall over the past two weeks. High temperatures have broken in Alberta, but it still remains dry. MacIsaac summarizes how the crop looks at this time.
Five years ago, a group of farmers, scientists, and government officials formed the AsiaBlight network to develop an integrated approach to managing, and eventually eradicate, late blight disease with an aim to improve nutrition and food security for billions throughout Asia. Recently the network convened a side event at the 23rd Chinese Potato Conference, held in Yulin City to discuss progress made in the past year.
The potato crop in Canada is now in the very critical growth stage of tuber bulking. Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada reports that tuber set has been determined and it is now this phase which will provide yield and determine production for this crop. While there is still considerable time left for many growing regions, the Canadian crop in mid-August appears to have good potential (in many but not in all regions) to meet the needs of industry.
Total U.S. potato exports increased by 4% in volume and 1% in value for July 2020 – June 2021 compared to the previous marketing year (MY). The rebound in exports was led by a 9% increase in fresh potatoes, a 10% increase in potato chips, and a 2% increase in frozen exports, accounting for 51% of the total. It is anticipated that with the continued easing of restrictions around the world, U.S. potato exports will continue to grow in MY22.
From July 2020 – June 2021, potato sales increased in dollars by 3% but declined slightly in volume by 0.3% compared to the previous July-June marketing year, according to Potatoes USA. Consumers bought 577 million more pounds of potatoes from July 2020 – June 2021 than July 2018 – June 2019. Refrigerated potatoes had the largest increase compared to the same period the previous year of 10.6% increase in dollars and a 5.3% increase in volume.
Scientists at the James Hutton Institute have outlined plans for a Potato Innovation and Translation Hub as a centre of excellence to translate innovation and research into solutions for the potato industry. The new hub will be based in Scotland but would have relevance and impact across all nations of the UK and beyond, providing multiple benefits for the potato industry. The next steps for the Potato Innovation and Translation Hub include consultations with industry.
The New Zealand potato industry remains a billion-dollar-plus industry despite a year of crises, and a disappointing Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment tariff report. Chris Claridge, CEO of Potatoes New Zealand says the result shows “the immense value of our processing sector”. “Fifty-five per cent of our locally grown potatoes produce fries and another 12 per cent produce crisps,” he says.
The North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG) says in a recent news release that “It is much more the production per hectare than the total acreage that will be an important factor for the outcome of the 2021 potato harvest.” Estimates of the total harvest also depends on external factors such as rainfall and temperatures.
Heat and rainfall this summer has created the optimal growing conditions for potatoes, says the Executive Director for Potatoes New Brunswick Matt Hemphill. He says the crop went in the ground two weeks earlier than last year, and he is cautiously optimistic. He is also feeling optimistic with restaurants and sports reopening, and processors have told him demand for product is currently up.
The International Potato Center (CIP) has substantially contributed to the development and release of improved potato varieties that are grown by millions of farmers in Asia’s top potato producing countries. Across Asia, 170 potato varieties have been released through CIP’s breeding program or by using germplasm held in its collections.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reports that overall, consumption and demand have improved over the past 10 days in Ireland, following the return of cooler weather conditions. Estimates put the area damaged by the storms two weeks ago in Belgium, Holland and Germany at around 20,000 ha’s. A full assessment can only be made once the crop reaches maturity.
The National Potato Council met virtually for the summer meeting last week. National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles says there’s work to do across all issue areas including infrastructure, immigration reform and fresh potato market access with Mexico.
Vegetable, flower and potato growers who led the campaign to abolish a statutory levy on horticulture and potato production – the AHDB Petitioners – have expressed concern and disappointment by recent comments by NFU representatives, and the Growers Better Levy Group, suggesting the industry supports a compulsory levy. Lincolnshire potato and vegetable grower John Bratley said, “In two decisive votes, two-thirds of growers across the horticulture and potato sectors unambiguously rejected the idea of a statutory levy.
According to a market report issued by Potatoes USA, potato sales declined in dollars by 10.5% and in volume by 15.5% during April – June of 2021, compared to the same time period in 2020. However, when sales are compared to that same timeframe in 2019, sales increased in value and volume. Consumers bought 53 million more pounds of potatoes, demonstrating demand for potatoes is elevated in grocery stores.
A blight-resistant gmo potato variety help farmers in Uganda to defeat late blight and change their fortunes
Successful innovation for agriculture will depend on thorough and careful understanding of the aspirations of beneficiaries and the challenges farmers face. It entails putting them at the center of these innovations, according to this blog post by the International Potato Center (CIP). As part of its work to research solutions addressing hunger and poverty, CIP and partners worked in Uganda to develop and test a new type of blight-resistant potato, which may not need any fungicides.
The ‘tricot’ approach: How African farmers participate in potato variety selection and dissemination
The “triadic comparisons of technologies” – or tricot – approach is being used in a citizen-science project funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) to identify and scale up best potato and cassava varieties in Rwanda. Farmers are trained to conduct a trial with potato seed and then, at the end of the season, they are asked which variety they consider ‘best’ or ‘worst’ on several characteristics including yield, marketability, plant vigor and more.
The Growers’ Better Levy Group (GBLG), a voluntary group of business operators in the horticulture and potato sectors, is calling for Defra to support a grower-managed research agency following the ballot on the AHDB statutory levy for horticulture and potato growers. GBLG is made up of a voluntary group of 36 independent and representative business operators in the horticulture and potato sectors.
Dear Readers, I have updated the latest available FAOSTAT global data for potatoes – related to “production” and “area harvested”, and present the results in this news post. It now includes statistics for 2019. Total world production totalled 370,436,581 metric tonnes, produced on 17,340,986 hectares.
‘In time of test, family is best’: How food system sustainability relies on the potato’s ‘wild relatives’
Looking ahead to the next 50 years, potato researchers and farmers have significant concerns about producing enough food under the stressors of climate change. However, a potential solution exists within the potato “family”, the International Potato Center (CIP), based in Lima, Peru says in a recent blog post. We republish the full post below.
Nearly halfway through his national potato council presidency, Dominic Lajoie spoke to Newssource8′s Rhian Lowndes about how things are going in this week’s County Ag. “The Delta variant and spikes across the country, it’s concerning,” he says. “We definitely want our schools open, our universities open, our restaurants fully open. You know food service is a big part of the potato industry. If those markets aren’t developed back to where they were, we’re gonna feel a lot more pain.”
Growing conditions across the country seem to have reversed regionally from a year ago. This year the four main growing provinces in eastern and central Canada have received good moisture levels to date, while the four western provinces have been extremely hot and dry. Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) provides an up to date summary of crop growth across the country.