Sustainability

The global impact of coronavirus on potato production: Examples and lessons learnt

One country that has routinely been in the news for their impressive handling of the outbreak is South Korea. In Canada, the closure of the hospitality sector in light of the coronavirus caused a significant threat to potato growers. The potato growers in the USA too have faced significant challenges with accessing markets and oversupply. This issue of excess potatoes is impacting supply chains across Europe too. Belgium is famous the world over for its fries and UNESCO list them as a Cultural Treasure. Given the closure of restaurants, including the ubiquitous fish n’ chip shops of most high streets, potato growers across the UK are struggling to sell their crop.

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Yara takes action to avert hunger crisis in the wake of Covid 19

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people facing acute hunger could double. Supported by the United Nations, the Norwegian government and African institutions, Yara is taking action and committing $25 million to provide food for more than one million people in Southern and Eastern Africa. Yara is launching Action Africa: Thriving Farms, Thriving Future – an initiative with the goal to mobilize support for 250,000 smallholder farmers in seven African countries to secure food production and improved food security. The initiative includes advocacy and partnerships, farmer connectivity and digital solutions, and operational support including 40,000 metric tons of high quality fertilizers

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On-farm trials: Can brackish water be used for drip irrigating a potato crop?

New trials run by Innovative Farmers Field lab in the UK and funded by AHDB will research the possibility of using brackish water for potato irrigation, in particular drip irrigation. Grower members of Nene Potato Ltd planned a trial on use of slightly saline water with those able to offer technical support. The two aspects being investigated are effect of salinity and benefit of application by drip when using brackish water.

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Peru cements its position among top 15 potato producers in the world

Within the framework of the National Potato Day, which takes place May 30, Peru has consolidated its position among the top 15 producers of this Andean tuber in the world, given the active participation of over 700,000 small producers, who cultivate potatoes in 19 regions across the country. The results of the Andean tuber production confirm the position of Peru as the 14th world producer of potatoes.

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Europatat welcomes ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy; calls on Commission to ensure coherent and realistic approach

Europatat welcomes the Farm to Fork Strategy published today by the European Commission. There is a need to secure a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system, a message that the potato sector fully endorses, Europatat says. The Farm to Fork Strategy sets out regulatory and non-regulatory measures to make the EU food system a global standard for sustainability. In doing so, the Commission should take a pragmatic and realistic approach to this situation.

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Pivoting when in crisis? Potato Corner founder shares ideas

“Pivoting” is a term that has been thrown around by entrepreneurs as they try to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. But Jose Magsaysay Jr., founder and chairman emeritus of the food kiosk pioneer Potato Corner, pivoting is not always the solution for crumbling businesses. “You pivot depending on your resources. Look into yourself before you pivot. Am I a player now in this crisis? If I’m not and I don’t have the money to pivot, I will just conserve, stop what I’m doing, and spot trends,” he said during a webinar organized by the Philippine Franchise Association on Thursday.

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A robust blight strategy more essential than ever as new blight strains continue to evolve

Control strategies for late blight are constantly developing as the pathogen causing the disease evolves and the available blight chemistry changes, either due to regulation or efficacy shifts due to fungicide resistance, according to independent agronomy company Farmacy Plc in the UK. Overcoming issues such as these is a key part of the Hutchinsons’ blight trials, first set up in 1997. The trial is managed specifically to test products individually under higher blight pressure than might otherwise be found in the field.

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Potatoes New Zealand gearing up to achieve zero emissions goal

Potatoes New Zealand is seeking funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries for a nationwide project to transition crop production to more sustainable land management. In February Potatoes NZ adopted a new strategic objective of zero net emissions by 2050. It is now one of three central objectives for the sector including doubling export value by 2025 and increasing domestic value by 50% by 2025.

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CIP and HZPC collaborate to develop new potato varieties suitable for Southeast Asia

This project builds on ongoing work by the International Potato Center (CIP) developing early-maturing potato varieties that are tolerant to high temperatures and resistant to major virus diseases, thus suitable for growing in tropical climates.In close collaboration with the Netherlands-based global potato seed company HZPC, this project is developing early-maturing varieties with good characteristics for cooking and processing that would be suitable for the local environmental conditions. Five advanced clone candidate varieties will be cultivated and evaluated at high and low altitudes in Vietnam.

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Too much, too long: Canada’s Manitoba potato growers reach breaking point

Some potato growers in Manitoba have reached a breaking point and not just because of COVID-19. Manitoba’s potato industry has been suffering for more than 18 months. There was a difficult harvest in 2018, a much worse harvest in 2019, potatoes rotting in storage this winter and production cuts this spring. The personal stress has been building and a number of producers are questioning why they continue to grow potatoes.

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Potato surplus and halted processing impacts new Alberta crops

The surplus of potatoes waiting in storage in Alberta due to COVID-19 is a major issue. Officials say that surplus is now impacting future crops. Growers have about a 25 per cent cutback on their 2020 acres. There’s going to be about 100,000 tonnes in Alberta that have no home. The Potato Growers of Alberta projects the loss to producers at around $26 million, with another $5 to $6 million loss to seed growers alone.

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WPC: COVID-19 pandemic halts global trade of rice and cereals, creating a food security challenge

“COVID-19 has shaken the whole world impacting society and the global economy. The frozen potato products value chain has been confronted with a true drama, says the President and CEO of World Potato Congress Inc, Romain Cools. The socio-economic problems created by this in Western Europe and parts of North America will be minor compared to the likelihood of food insecurity and famine in many developing countries, Mr Cools says. The major suppliers of the global staples of rice and cereals, China, Vietnam and Russia, have stopped exports. Many poorer parts of the world that depend on imports of rice and cereals, will be confronted with food shortages and rising prices.

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Strengthening innovation to empower women potato growers in the Andes

The world is faced with a rising demand for food due to population growth, changes in dietary habits and the availability of agricultural resources. As a result farmers need to be more efficient and productive. The story of Gaby Quispe of Patacamaya, Bolivia, is typical and gives a simple illustration of how to achieve gender equity and the empowerment of rural women through the use of climate-smart technologies in potato production.

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Organic humble heroes: New Zealand’s Whitfield Organics

Organic farmers are a small but growing sector in New Zealand. Considering consumer trends and the recent law changes, it’s time to “hero” the industry, writes Gemma Carroll, Communications & Engagement Officer at Potatoes New Zealand in a recent article. Not long ago, Gemma headed over to Clive, near Hastings, to meet with Hawkes Bay organic grower Brad Whitfield. Brad is a fourth generation grower who still shares some of the work with his 80 year old dad Dave.

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What are farmers in England investing in to increase income?

Almost half of all farmers in the south-east and east of England have already invested in non-farming activities such as building lets and agro-tourism, as they seek to diversify their income sources, Farmers Weekly reports. The survey found almost one-third of farmers have already invested in things such as tourism and letting building, with another 15% expecting to do so in the next three years.

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Backing up biodiversity: CIP deposits potato seed in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The International Potato Center (CIP) recently joined 34 other organizations across the globe in depositing more than 60,000 seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a biodiversity bunker in a mountainside of an Arctic island in Norway. That mass deposit of seeds of an array of crops helped raise the number of samples stored in Svalbard to more than one million, but for the CIP genebank, it was just the latest such delivery in an ongoing effort to back up its extensive collections of potato, sweetpotato, Andean roots and tubers, and the wild relatives of those crops.

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In India’s Assam state, potatoes are grown with no-tillage; growers receive post-harvest training

As farmers look to grow more food for their families and the marketplace, increasing production sustainably remains a consistent challenge. But a CIP project in Assam state in India has discovered an easy way to produce an annual crop of potatoes with no-tillage and very few additional inputs. For the first time in the State, a day-long training of post-harvest management of potato was recently conducted.

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Research study shows universally positive effect of cover crops on soil microbiome

Only a fraction of conventional row crop farmers grow cover crops after harvest, but a new global analysis from the University of Illinois shows the practice can boost soil microbial abundance by 27%. The result adds to cover crops’ reputation for nitrogen loss reduction, weed suppression, erosion control, and more. Although soil microbial abundance is less easily observed, it is a hugely important metric in estimating soil health.

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Agriculture’s new apps: Precision innovation to feed the world

Precision weather tracking, ‘blood pressure monitoring’ for plants and complex nutrient analysis apps are now the must-have tools for modern farmers. With agriculture using 70% of the world’s?freshwater resources and severely degrading one third of the earth’s land through over-fertilisation, such innovations are vital. Video: Meet the Agricultural Scientists changing the way we are fed, one field at a time.

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How the humble potato changed the world

In his 1957 essay collection Mythologies, the French philosopher and literary critic Roland Barthes called chips (la frite), a food that comes from a crop native to the Americas, “patriotic” and “the alimentary sign of Frenchness”. Despite its origins in the Andes, it’s an incredibly successful global food Just a century earlier, a potato disease prompted a famine that halved Ireland’s[Read More…]

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Australian companies offer commercial opportunities for potato waste

Four of the largest potato producers in Australia want to convert 100 per cent of their potato waste into commercial benefit through their partnership with the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). Over the next three years, The Mitolo Group, Zerella Fresh, Thomas Foods International Fresh Produce, The South Australian Potato Company, together with Industry Association; Potatoes South Australia[Read More…]

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Convenience, sustainability, recyclable options driving latest potato packaging design

The challenge to creating a compelling package for potatoes is complex, because bags must protect product integrity while attracting a shopper’s attention, says Jeff Watkin, marketing director with Collinsville, Ill.-based packaging manufacturer Sev-Rend Inc. told The Packer magazine in a recent interview., One challenge Sev-Rend has met involves a bag that prevents greening and preserves the potatoes’ shelf life, he said.[Read More…]

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Sustainable technology company successfully converts Lay’s potato chip bag to make plastic bottles

New York-based sustainable technology company Anellotech has announced that a laboratory demonstration of its latest technology, which transforms mixed plastic waste directly into chemicals, successfully converted a Lays (PepsiCo) barbeque potato chip bag into paraxylene, the primary chemical used to make virgin polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for beverage bottles. [PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) is the most common plastic for single-use bottled beverages, because it[Read More…]

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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