To tackle the growing wireworm threat to potatoes, scientists will convene in Oslo during the 22nd Triennial Conference of the European Association for Potato Research for the European Wireworm Research Network’s inaugural workshop. They aim to develop collaborative strategies for pest management, with a focus on new research, monitoring methods, and sustainable practices to protect potato crops, enhancing food security in Europe and globally.
Organizations in the News
National Potato Council announces 2024 leadership: Environmental advocate Bob Mattive takes the helm
Bob Mattive was elected President of the National Potato Council at the annual Washington Summit. Mattive, a Coloradan farmer and former NPC Vice President, will lead the council dedicated to the interests of potato growers. With his extensive committee experience and commitment to environmental stewardship, he aims to work together for the industry’s advancement. The full executive committee was also installed, with NPC serving as the voice for U.S. growers in policy and regulatory matters.
The James Hutton Institute plans to establish the National Potato Innovation Centre to bolster food security, focusing on potatoes’ role in global strategies. The NPIC will utilize a new glasshouse complex to breed potato varieties suited to warmer, sustainable environments. With a reputation in potato science and a history of R&D success, the institute’s facility, housing the Commonwealth Potato Collection, aims to promote drought tolerance and disease resistance in potatoes, thereby future-proofing the UK industry.
At the WTO’s 13th ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi, members of the European Coordination Via Campesina protested against neoliberal agricultural policies. Highlighting a direct link to the impoverishment of farmers across Europe, they voiced frustration over decades of unfair policies that have increased production costs, stagnated farmer wages, and led to significant personal debts among farmers, despite their efforts to increase production. The ongoing farmer protests in Europe demonstrate the dire situation and demand for change.
‘The golden crop’: New report details how the U.S. potato industry bolsters the economy and job market
The National Potato Council’s report, prepared by Michigan State University economists, highlights the significant economic role of the U.S. potato industry, worth $100.9 billion. With $2.2 billion in exports from July 2022 to June 2023, accounting for 20% of U.S. potato production, these exports underpin substantial domestic activity and jobs—nearly $4.78 billion in economic contribution and about 33,846 jobs. The potato industry at large supports over 714,000 jobs across the nation.
On February 26, 2024, the National Potato Council will host a roundtable to discuss a report by Michigan State economists on the U.S. potato industry. The report predicts a $1 billion GDP increase and thousands of new jobs from expanded potato exports. Key figures from the council will speak and answer media questions. The findings could position the U.S. as a significant global agricultural player and strengthen international trade relationships.
Michigan’s potato industry generates over $2.5 billion for the state’s GDP and supports roughly 21,700 jobs, solidifying its status as an economic powerhouse and the second-largest commodity in Michigan, behind apples. A Michigan State University study highlights its significance, with Michigan being the national leader in chipping potatoes, supplying one-fourth of U.S. potato chips.
Kenya’s recent agricultural initiatives include the adoption of genetically modified organisms to address climate change and food security issues. The article by James Kamuye Kataru discusses Kenya’s significant step towards innovation with the introduction of a late blight resistant biotech potato, developed through a collaboration involving KALRO, the International Potato Center, and Michigan State University. This advancement aims to increase farmer incomes, reduce fungicide use, improve crop yields, and set a pioneering example for other agricultural nations.
The FAO will commemorate the first International Day of Potato on May 30, 2024, an initiative led by Peru. Recognizing the potato as the world’s third most consumed crop, the event highlights its importance in global food security and nutrition. While production has risen 10% in the last decade, there remains untapped potential for poverty and hunger reduction. FAO will launch awareness campaigns and encourage sustainable practices among stakeholders and native communities.
The February 2024 UPGC report shows Canadian potato storage holdings have risen by 8.2% from last year to 74,031 million cwt. Western provinces report higher stock levels, particularly in processing, while eastern stocks are down due to a wet season. Inventory in the processing sector has notably increased, but the seed sector shows slower movement. Total January disappearance aligns with 2023. Monitoring continues regarding U.S. market impacts and high processing inventories.
A study by Potatoes USA shows that 22% of Americans eat potatoes multiple times weekly, revealing their cultural significance despite health perceptions ranking them low among vegetables. Spanning various ethnic groups, potatoes are considered a foundational food, with 53% of adults deeming them culturally important. Moreover, Americans appreciate potatoes for their taste, cost, and nutrition, with 72% recognizing their good value.
The EU faces a challenging 2024 for potato cultivation with a seed shortage due to a 10,000-hectare decrease in seed-producing areas. Belpotato.be reports average yields and larger seeds with fewer tubers, compounded by viral issues and poor harvests due to rains. Seed prices are rising sharply, affecting all potato sectors. Producers may need to look for seeds outside traditional channels, while industry-wide efforts are needed to stabilize seed cultivation for sustainability.
Irish and European potato markets: Resilience in the face of rising costs, tight supplies and seed scarcity
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reports that the Irish potato market remains strong despite rising costs and seed scarcity, with sustained demand in home consumption, retail, and food service sectors. Irish potato farmers are grappling with the dual pressures of rising costs and limited availability of seed potatoes. This situation is is a reflection of a broader European trend. Tight supplies across the continent have led to a significant increase in costs, putting additional financial strain on farmers.
Potato Association of America’s 2024 Annual Meeting: A blend of science, scenery, and sustainability
The Potato Association of America (PAA) announces its annual meeting from July 21-25, 2024, in Portland, Oregon. The event will focus on advancements in potato breeding and sustainable practices, offering discussions on pest and nutrient management, among many other topics. Participants will also enjoy the cultural and natural attractions of Portland. Further details on participation are available online.
The North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) reports substantial losses for potato growers in 2023 due to poor weather and high costs, with 11,000 hectares and 650,000 tonnes affected. Despite this, global harvest rose by 5.1%, with varying regional impacts. Growers struggle with production costs, risks, and certified seed shortages, while processing demand remains high. This leaves the sector under stress, seeking a balance between supply and challenging conditions.
At the Canadian Potato Summit, UPGC’s Victoria Stamper presented an insightful analysis of the potato industry for 2023-24, highlighting a record high potato stock and shifting production trends, with a 7.2% storage increase. Canada’s potato production reached a new peak with over $1.5 billion in sales value. She discussed challenges like surplus storage, quality management, cost pressures, and shifts in consumer preferences. Opportunities for Canadian exporters in the global market, especially in Europe, were emphasized.
Europe’s farmers are protesting against what they consider are unfair and contradictory policies, disrupting daily life with demonstrations across France, Germany, Romania, and Bulgaria due to the climate crisis and policy responses. Protests escalated after a tragic accident in France and are poised to continue with potential nationwide action, expressing long-term frustration over environmental policy applications and subsidy removals.
The Europatat Congress returns to Brussels on May 23-24, 2024, focusing on “European Potato Trade in 2030: a sector in transition.” Industry leaders will discuss environmental, economic, and social challenges, and innovations within the sector. The agenda includes reviews, a General Assembly, and a public conference amid European elections, offering networking opportunities enriched by social events. Potato professionals will soon be able to register at the congress website.
Potatoes Australia Ltd. has named Ms. Robbie Davis as the official Ambassador for the 12th World Potato Congress in Adelaide, 2024. Ms. Davis, with her extensive industry background, including a previous CEO role and board directorships, will leverage her expertise to promote the event. Her responsibilities include advocacy, industry engagement, and media relations. Her aim is to foster unity and innovation within the international potato community at the Congress.
Dr. Peter VanderZaag of the World Potato Congress Inc. (WPC) has announced the opening of nominations for the 2024 Industry Awards, recognizing lifetime achievements in the potato sector. Nominations require a 250-word justification and contact details, submitted by March 27, 2024, to the WPC Executive Director. Nomination submissions is set for the close of business on March 27, 2024. Recipients will be announced at the upcoming World Potato Congress in Australia in June 2024.
The 2024 Ontario Potato Conference and Trade Show, organized by Dr. Eugenia Banks, will address critical issues in the industry. Keynote speaker Gary Secor will tackle late blight, while Mark VanOostrum shares grower challenges. The event includes a dynamic Trade Show and afternoon sessions on soil health and soft rot management. Attendees can gain CEU credits and free parking. Online registration will open soon, and the Ontario Potato Board encourages participation. Contact Dr. Banks for details.
The International Potato Center has introduced a groundbreaking method for potato cultivation in coastal Bangladesh: zero tillage using rice straw mulch. This innovative technique addresses environmental challenges, promotes economic growth, women’s empowerment, and improved rural livelihoods. By recycling straw as mulch and not disturbing soil structure, the method enhances soil fertility, reduces carbon emissions, and allows for saline-tolerant potato cultivation, leading to increased agricultural productivity in challenging environments.
The 2024 Potato Business Summit, set for January 10 in Austin, Texas, will feature key industry leaders discussing market trends, economic outlooks, and technological advancements in potato cultivation. This event, a precursor to the Potato Expo, offers valuable networking opportunities for stakeholders in the potato industry, focusing on both the European and North American markets, consumer dynamics, and the future of potato farming and marketing.
The United Nations General Assembly has declared May 30th as the International Day of the Potato in recognition of its role in global food security, nutrition, and sustainable farming. This landmark decision was spearheaded by the World Potato Congress Inc. and the Government of Peru, emphasizing the potato’s crucial contributions to food security, poverty reduction, and the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers and value chain actors. The inaugural International Day of the Potato will be on May 30th, 2024.