Scotland accounted for 29% (608.7Kt) of what potato stocks remained in British grower ownership at the end of January. While there was a slight uplift in production in Scotland, much of the Scottish area grown is for seed production. Therefore, slower seed sales may account for some of this volume. There have been reports that many growers delayed their seed orders this year.
The UK government should consider a tit-for-tat response if Brussels continues to refuse access to British seed potatoes, according to farm leaders. Scottish, English and Welsh seed potato growers and traders are still unable to export to the EU as part of the Brexit fallout, causing millions of pounds in losses. The EU denied third country status for GB seed potatoes over concerns they would not remain “dynamically aligned” with the bloc’s standards on this product.
Kenya has applied for a Sh656 million (approx US$6 mil) grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to boost research on potato seed production and cut reliance on imports. The fund will be used to increase the availability of certified seed in the country and cut the imports of tubers, which has been blamed for introducing foreign pests in the country. Kenya’s seed demand stands at 30,000 tonnes annually but the country only produces 6,700 tonnes.
HZPC Americas Corp. hired Aron Derbidge as Sales and Key Account Manager, bringing with him over 10 years of experience developing and marketing seed potatoes in the U.S. and Canada. “We’re very excited to have Aron join our team. His depth of experience, knowledge and passion will complement our growing team of seed potato professionals.”, says Jeff Scramlin, President of HZPC Americas Corp.
Brexit has brought “great opportunities” for Irish seed potato growers, according to a Co Donegal farmer. Charlie Doherty, who is based in Burt, has been growing seed potatoes for 20 years. He has already sold out of this year’s stock and aims to increase his acreage this spring. The majority of seed potatoes used in Ireland are grown in Scotland. However, because of Brexit, seed potatoes can no longer be imported to European Union countries from the UK due to phytosanitary regulations.
In this week’s Scotland’s Larder column in The Scotsman, Catriona Thomson talks to Andrew Skea from Potato House about how Brexit is affecting the Scottish seed potato industry, about growing your own heritage spuds, to chit spuds or not, and more. Whether it is for baking, boiling, roasting, making chips or for mash, Andrew Skea knows a thing or two about the humble potato. Andrew explains that growing up, “that was pretty much all that was talked about.”
The UK’s departure from the European Union has created a catch-22 for some Irish farmers who can no longer import British seed potatoes but the move could revitalise the domestic trade in the product. The import ban has the potential to cause headaches for farmers growing potatoes for consumers and for the snack industry, with a switch to seed potato from the Continent bringing increased transport costs and the prospect of importing diseases.
An application to allow the resumption of British seed potato exports to Europe has been rejected by the European Commission. The UK Government had applied to the European Commission seeking a solution to the Brexit trade deal not including third-country equivalence for seed potatoes. Failure to secure the equivalence status put an end to all GB seed potato exports to Northern Ireland and Europe from January 1 this year.
HZPC’s CEO, Gerard Backx says: “What we can contribute are new varieties that can help to improve environmental impact in the future. We try to develop different disease resistances to make sure that our potatoes can be grown without or with a very reduced amount of pesticides. Of course, yield is important too, because if you can produce more product on the same amount of land with the same amount of energy, then you are more sustainable.”
The World Potato Congress will present its next webinar on Thursday, February 18, 2021 with Dr. Peter VanderZaag, a potato farmer in Canada and, due to COVID-19, now an “armchair consultant” involved with numerous potato projects in Asia and Africa. Dr. VanderZaag’s presentation will be entitled: “Aeroponics for nuclear seed potato production: history, status, and challenges”. It will primarily focus on the development of the technology in China over the last 14 years. Dr. VanderZaag will share some of the major successes and failures of minituber tuber production with aeroponics.
In this week’s blog, AHDB’s head of export trade development for potatoes, Patrick Hughes, examines the issues around gaining third country listed status for seed potatoes and what the industry might do if a resolution is not reached. The news that ware potatoes have been awarded third country listed status and trade into the EU and Northern Ireland will continue is welcome. Unfortunately, the EU also confirmed they will not accept the case for a permanent change to the prohibition on seed potatoes.
As the global population approaches 10 billion by 2050, agricultural production will need to increase by 60%. Yet with every 1°C of warming, agricultural productivity is projected to fall by 5%. One model predicts that potato yields could decrease by as much as 32% by 2060, but the development and distribution of climate-smart varieties can ensure that this nutritious and fast-maturing crop continues to play a vital role in food systems in economies worldwide. To accelerate the development of those varieties, scientists have taken advantage of advances in genetic sequencing,
A potato seed merchant is counting the cost of a Brexit deal blow that will see him lose up to £125,000 a year. Iain Barbour has been banned from exporting potatoes to Northern Ireland or the EU from January 1. The manager of family-run JBA Seed Potatoes said he “still can’t believe it has been allowed to happen”. Staff had to work around the clock to make sure all orders to Northern Ireland and Europe were posted out ahead of New Year’s Day.
Scotland’s rural economy minister has pledged to do “everything possible” to reverse the “damaging impact” of the UK’s trade deal with the EU on seed potato farmers. Mr Ewing said he held talks with industry leaders this Monday and an urgent meeting with Mr Eustice. From Friday, seed potatoes will be banned from being exported to the EU, which could have an estimated £15m impact on the sector in which Scotland accounts for three-quarters of the UK’s 280 growers.
As the impacts of climate change intensify — from water scarcity to raging fires and disease outbreaks — the ability to keep pace with demand for food will increasingly rely on crops adapted to new conditions. To achieve this crop breeders will need the full range of tools at their disposal. So says Oscar Ortiz, Deputy Director General for Research and Development at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru. Ortiz warns that biodiversity loss threatens national security.
While all eyes have been on arrangements for fishing and livestock exports in the Brexit trade negotiations, few spared a thought for the humble seed potato. This seldom-discussed but valuable Scottish product has not made the list of food exports continuing to the EU having been denied third-country equivalence – the process whereby the European Commission decides whether a non-EU country’s regulatory, supervisory and enforcement regime is equivalent to its own.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has accused the UK government of selling out farmers in Scotland after it emerged that seed potatoes are set not to be included in a post-Brexit trade deal. Scottish seed potato farmers are one of the biggest exporters for the production of chips and crisps in the world, with the sector accounting for three-quarters of UK production and worth about £112m a year. Northern English farmers will also be particularly affected.
Industry bodies have welcomed news of the EU’s decision to grant third country status to the UK, a move which came as the UK was poised to sign a trade deal with the EU on Christmas Eve. However, concerns remain over the lack of detail in the announcement and its exclusion of the seed potato industry – a lucrative source of income for growers, and a key crop for Scottish growers
Potato variety and seed trading company HZPC recently unveiled details about a pilot project – dubbed ‘smart big bags’ – that harnesses the potential of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) to share information about the seed contained in bulk bags, and also track certain variables during the transportation of seed potatoes. The company says in a news article that a total of 1100 big (bulk/tote) bags will be fitted with an intelligent computer chip as part of the implementation of the pilot project.
Many of Hummingbird’s clients have used its remoting sensing technology and data analytic capabilities for numerous crop trials across Europe in the past few seasons. One of Hummingbird’s clients was particularly interested in evaluating the establishment and growth rate differences when planting chitted versus non chitted potato seed in a split field trial. Hummingbird then proceeded to provide the client with high resolution UAV drone analytics at specific growth stages throughout the cropping season.
The National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA) in Uruguay recently signed an agreement with the local agrobiotechnology company Rustikas to work together on the selection, evaluation, validation and production of seeds of new potato varieties of Uruguayan origin. The alliance will work towards a continued genetic improvement of new potato varieties. The partners will also strive to bring about an efficient Uruguayan based seed production system and supply a national multiplication network. It will be the first time that a company in Uruguay uses aeroponic technology to offer minitubers to farmers and seed growers.
The government of Prince Edward Island will help the province’s seed potato growers with an assistance program to compensate for the negative effects COVID-19 has had on their industry. The Seed Potato Recovery Program is a $1.19 million fund for seed growers who can demonstrate that they have incurred extraordinary costs associated with the pandemic. Applications will be open until January 15, 2021.
Potatoes USA announced earlier today that it has sent the first shipment of U.S. seed potatoes to Cuba. The mixed load of 10 different varieties will be utilized in trials conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture in Cuba. This trial process must be completed prior to commercial shipments of U.S. seed potatoes occurring. Concurrent to the trial shipment, USDA and the Ministry of Agriculture signed a market access protocol for U.S. seed potatoes to enter Cuba.
The Kenyan highlands have the potential to grow an excellent potato crop. However, the yields (7 – 10 T/ha) have not yet reached their potential. To assist the sector to optimize its production, the Kenya Netherlands Seed Potato Program – financed by the Government of the Netherlands – was started. The program has already led to several positive developments since its launch in Kenya. 34 Dutch varieties are registered for cultivation by potato farmers in Kenya. Several sustainable solutions, such as storage, have been introduced.
A Rwandan entrepreneur is pioneering the use of innovative farming technology that, he believes, is set to play a major role in feeding the growing population in his country, amid increasing pressure on arable land. No soil, barely any water, a controlled environment: for Apollinaire Karegeya, the advantages of aeroponics are clear.