According to AHDB in the UK, Spotlight and/or Gozai straights or combinations, along with flailing, can give virtually as quick desiccation as diquat. This was shown in trials and demonstrations across AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm network to evaluate potential replacements have shown. But at what cost? Dr Mark Stalham, Head of NIAB CUF who led the trials, reveals the results, and Mark Topliff from AHDB’s Farm Economics team crunches the numbers.
The National Potato Council released a statement Thursday, July 9, after an announcement by USDA that it is issuing revised payment rates for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which previously prevented potato growers from receiving equitable access to relief funds. “The potato industry appreciates the rapid work of USDA in considering these changes and making potatoes eligible for all three categories of payments. We believe the economic justification submitted by the industry strongly supports the meaningful inclusion of potatoes in this relief program, given the devastation faced by the industry due to the government-mandated food service shutdown,” said Britt Raybould, NPC President.
New estimates show a small drop in the UK planted area for potatoes despite a turbulent season for growers. Provisional figures from AHDB show the planted area in Britain at 119Kha, which, if correct, shows only a 1 percent drop on last year. The fall takes into account revisions to the 2019 planted area data since September. The figures suggest a minimal impact from the coronavirus crisis on planting decisions, as many growers had already made plans by the time the pandemic hit.
In this interview, Pepsico Vice President of Sustainability, Christine Daugherty, speaks with demonstration farmer Ketsarin Boonkerd on how PepsiCo is supporting smallholder farmers and helping them flourish. Ms. Boonkerd is a potato farmer in Thailand. By adopting sustainable farming practices such as drip irrigation, with PepsiCo’s support, she grew her yield by 45% and reduced her water use by 28% in just one year. She also increased her income by $1,500 per acre. Today, Ms. Boonkerd helps farmers in her community and beyond to see the value in these more-sustainable farming practices.
A beleaguered industry: British potato growers expected to deliver higher quality products with less irrigation water
The British potato industry is under pressure due to increased expectations of potato quality from the supermarkets. Previous studies have shown that irrigation plays a crucial role in reducing common scab, but water resources are less available than before, says AHDB Potatoes in a recent news release. AHDB points out that water resources have diminished over recent years, becoming more expensive and less available due to strict licencing.
Agriculture, engagement with female potato farmers central focus of PepsiCo’s sustainability approach
PepsiCo released its 2019 sustainability report, Helping to Build a More Sustainable Food System, just last week. Nearly 80% of PepsiCo’s main crops – including potatoes, corn, oats and oranges – are sourced sustainably, up from 51% in 2018. Explicit inclusion of women in farming initiatives is good business for PepsiCo, according to Simon Lowden, Chief Sustainability Officer at PepsiCo. For instance, the company has engaged with female potato farmers in rural areas in many countries.
With consumer demand rising for environmentally responsible and sustainable products, Ontario based EarthFresh announced today that the company has updated their packaging with new biobased material. These new mesh packs are all USDA Certified Biobased Products made with CLAF® Biobased Fabric™. The mesh bags are made with renewable raw materials derived from sugarcane. These packages are 96% bio-based and 100% recyclable.
Hyperspectral imaging, a growing area in remote sensing, holds the promise of providing a solution for crop monitoring over large areas, and scientists at the James Hutton Institute are working with partners in industry and academia to investigate the potential of the technology to maximise the sustainability and productivity of key food crops. The InnovateUK-funded project “In-field Optical Detection of Potato Disease” primarily explored the utility of aerial imaging (drone captured multispectral and high-res RGB) to detect and differentiate between a selection of economically important potato diseases.
A carbon footprint tool, which aims to help farmers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, has been updated to include a soil sequestration module, according to a report by Tillage & Soils. Agrecalc was developed by SAC Consulting – part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), in response to the growing need for a simple-to-use, accurate and science-driven carbon audit tool.
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.
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
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.
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.
Eye on Potatoes Podcast: In discussion with Congressman Mike Simpson and NPC CEO Kam Quarles about COVID-19
Congressman Mike Simpson and the entire Idaho Congressional delegation are championing policy solutions to support the nation’s struggling potato industry. National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles calls in from D.C. to discuss the $300 million in additional potato purchases the industry needs to help bring supply and demand back into balance.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.