Latest potato news from around the World

Webinar: Global climate change and potato storages

The World Potato Congress (WPC Inc) is pleased to present its next webinar on January 14, 2021 with Todd Forbush, long-time engineer with Techmark, Inc. Todd’s presentation is titled: “The impact of climate change on removing energy from a potato storage with an ambient air ventilation system”. Todd will inform participants about ambient air potato storage ventilation systems relying on cool outside air to remove energy from the potato storage resulting from both field heat and potato respiration.

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Canada: Potato growers and researchers collaborate to implement sustainable farming practices

The Living Laboratories Initiative is a four-year research partnership between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), farmers and environmental organizations, where research is co-developed and managed on farms to produce farming practices tailored to local environments. Launched in 2019, the Atlantic site – located in Prince Edward Island (PEI) – is the first-of-its-kind in Canada. Research at Living Lab – Atlantic is addressing several key areas impacting potato producers in PEI, including soil health, water quality management and crop productivity.

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A quarter of Kenyan potato farmers adopt more productive varieties

Africa’s first potato farmers were European settlers who introduced the crop in the late 1800s, but few Africans grew it before the mid-1950s. Since then, the tuber has taken off, with more than 25 million metric tons produced in Africa in 2017. According to the International Potato Center (CIP), potato is now the second most important food crop in Kenya after maize, grown by 800,000 small-scale farmers and generating employment for an estimated 2.5 million people along the value chain. Improved potato varieties introduced by CIP have the potential to significantly boost farm incomes.

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Potato LEAF reaches inaugural fundraising goal of $2 million

The Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) today announced it has achieved its inaugural fundraising goal of $2 million for 2020. Launched at Potato Expo 2020 in Las Vegas, Potato LEAF was created to provide tools, training, and support necessary to develop growers and industry members as leaders. “We challenged the industry with an ambitious goal, and we couldn’t be more appreciative of the response, particularly during an incredibly uncertain year,” said Potato LEAF Board Member Gregg Halverson.

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PIP Innovations and FoodeQ collaborate to provide quality enhancement solution for potato processor

PIP Innovations, the manufacturer of D-Blade – a robotic driven produce cutter – announced recently that it partnered with FoodeQ, manufacturer of vibratory shakers, in a strategic move to accelerate its global expansion by offering a tested combination of shakers and robot technology. The development of PIP Innovations’ robotic cutting machine started five years ago with a request from potato processor Peka Kroef to develop a machine that cuts defects from potato slices while retaining their shape during processing.

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Northern Ireland: ‘Time to support local potato growers’

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) potato committee say they are ‘outraged’ to learn that several local packers and dealers have been lobbying for potatoes that have been produced outside of Northern Ireland (NI) to be imported from January 1. Chair Robert Sibbett, speaking on behalf of the committee, said: “We are shocked and horrified that a number of local processors, packers and dealers have given the impression that there is a supply and quality issue with our locally produced potatoes, going as far to state that imports are better. …This shows no respect for Northern Ireland potato growers.

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Mallorca potato exporters facing ‘considerable’ Brexit bureaucracy

Over the coming months, Mallorca’s Sa Pobla potato exporters will be faced with considerable new bureaucracy as a result of Brexit. Mallorca Daily Bulletin reports that Mateu Export is responsible for around two-thirds of the potato exports to the UK. Its manager, Joan Mateu, says that the total export process, already aggravated by Mallorca being an island, will slow down. This is because of phytosanitary certification and documentation for the customs system in the UK. S’Esplet, another exporter, also anticipates problems.

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US agriculture industry bets on carbon as a new ‘cash crop’

US farmers make their living raising crops from the soil each year. Now, some are getting paid for putting something back into their fields: carbon. In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, correspondent Jacob Bunge writes that big agriculture companies including Bayer AG , Nutrien Ltd. and Cargill Inc. are jockeying with startups to encourage crop producers to adopt climate-friendly practices and develop farming-driven carbon markets.

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Nearly 3 million farmers in Asia embrace CIP-bred potatoes, raising revenues and resilience

An assessment published in 2018 found that 19% of the total land area devoted to potato production in these seven countries was planted with varieties bred at the International Potato Center (CIP) or by national partners in collaboration with CIP. Between 2008 and 2015, the area planted with those varieties more than doubled to 1.43 million hectares. Over the past 40 years, CIP scientists have helped 2.93 million potato farming households to produce more food and generate more income.

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The Year 2020: ‘I came, I saw, I delivered COVID-19…’

Dear folks, I believe that as much as Caesar’s famous words “I came, I saw, I conquered” will most likely live on for many years and indeed millennia to come, the year 2020 will go down in recorded history as the year when humankind was first inflicted with “The Corona”. And may this be the last time… And may we not be conquered in the end, but overcome… To all you great potato folks: May 2021 turn out to be a great New Year for you and yours!

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Virtual Potato Expo 2021 ready for big crowd

The first-ever digital Potato Expo is on tap for Jan. 5-7 and the event has plenty to offer the industry, National Potato Council leaders say. Registration for the 2021 Potato Expo event is available online. Earlier this month, the Packer’s Tom Karst visited with Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council and Hollee Alexander, vice president of industry relations and events for the council.

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Scottish potato firm cuts 27 tonnes of plastic from its packaging

Scottish potato business Scotty Brand has cut almost 27 tonnes of plastic from its packaging in a year. Scotty Brand said it introduced a raft of plastic-saving measures across its range to help protect the environment in September 2019 which included thinner, recyclable plastic on its 2kg potato bags, Baby Potato bags and Chippy Chip packs and removing trays inside its Baking Potato packs. In total, these steps have seen Scotty Brand save 26,890kg of plastic.

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The recyclable packaging trend: PepsiCo’s partnership with bioplastics manufacturer Danimer Scientific

PepsiCo joined forces with Danimer Scientific several years ago with the goal to develop sustainable flexible packaging, Danimer says in a news release published on its website. According to the release, Danimer Scientific developed biobased compostable packaging for PepsiCo’s snack brands in the past. The new initiative is said to be “right in line with PepsiCo’s announced strategy to make all of its packaging recoverable or recyclable.”

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Scottish minister pledges to fight for seed potato exporters

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.

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‘To be or not to be’: British potato industry to discuss future direction of Potatoes at AHDB

On January 7 levy payers will gather online for an open discussion about the future direction of Potatoes at AHDB. This virtual ‘town hall’ event will give participants the chance to have a say on AHDB’s new five-year strategy and ask questions of Alison Levett (Potatoes Interim Chair) and Rob Clayton (Strategy Director). AHDB says its new strategy will put the organization in a place to deliver what the industry needs, including revamping the way AHDB works.

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Future Farming: You cannot hide from the satellite!

There are many movies where satellites offer scary surveillance capabilities. Of course, it is science fiction, but with the latest commercial satellites some level of space surveillance of crops and fields can be achieved. Besides the Big Brother effect, farmers can also benefit from the satellite imagery with increasing detail that become readily available at increasing cadence, writes Tamme van der Wal, scientist at Wageningen University in this article published by Future Farming.

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Dietary Guidelines for Americans: ‘Make every bite count with potatoes’

Potatoes help support the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommendation for increased nutrient-dense vegetable consumption. Says John Toaspern, Potatoes USA Chief Marketing Officer: “It’s official: the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans have yet again confirmed the importance of eating more vegetables such as potatoes that provide potassium and vitamin C. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations focus on increased nutrient-dense vegetable consumption.

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Idaho farmers look ahead after roller-coaster year

COVID-19 has “scrambled” the outlook for potato growers, said economist Bruce Huffaker, who is president of North American Potato Market News, Inc. Huffaker believes the potato market has made up a great deal of ground following the COVID-19 hit, and demand should be relatively strong looking ahead. Between April and June, global trade in french fries declined by 30%. It’s been recovering since then, Huffaker said. “One of the challenges we are seeing still is while global trade is only down 2.8%, North American exports are still running 15% behind last year’s pace,” Huffaker said.

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Potato sales and utilization in the US: The ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘how much’ answered

John Toaspern, Chief Marketing Officer at Potatoes USA provides insight from this year’s Sales and Utilization study of US potatoes. “With everything that has occurred this past marketing year, it is very important for us to understand what has happened with the sales of potatoes in the US market and how the crop was utilized based on an analysis of potatoes and products sold at retail and food service and accounting for the volume of US exports and imports,” Toasperm says.

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The puzzle of non-host resistance: Why do pathogens harm some plants but not others?

People have puzzled for years why pathogen Phytophthora infestans causes the devastating late blight disease on potatoes, but has no effect at all on plants like apple or cucumber. How are apple trees and cucumber plants able to completely shake off this devastating pathogen? Agricultural scientists have wondered for years: if this resistance is so complete and persists over so many generations, is there some way we could transfer it to susceptible plants and thereby stop the disease?

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2Blades Foundation: The quest to bring a durable, blight-resistant potato to African farmers

The 2Blades Foundation, a non-profit research organization based in the Chicago area, is a principal sponsor of a project that recently developed a durable solution for the late blight potato disease. The discovery is of historic importance, and now 2Blades is seeking partners to help bring this disease-resistant potato variety to market and fight hunger in East Africa. 2Blades Foundation says it is honored to have the support of the son of Robert F. Kennedy, businessman Chris Kennedy, for its African Potato Initiative.

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Bangladesh to import blight resistant GMO varieties developed at Michigan State University

Thousands of farmers in Bangladesh grow potatoes on over one million acres of land, spending up to a fourth of their investment on fungicide sprays to fight late blight. The disease damages 20 percent of the total potato production in the country. The Bangladeshi government has finally allowed its scientists to import two blight resistant (RB) potato varieties, developed at the Michigan State University (MSU), and agreed that field trials can be conducted with the varieties.

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New Zealand’s South Island and green onion chips: A love story for the ages

From the tip of Farewell Spit to the very arse end of Stewart Island, there is one delicacy that unites Te Wai Pounamu: the humble green onion chip. But why? Alice Neville embarks on a quest for the true story behind this regional snacking quirk in a delightful article. We publish a brief excerpt here – the full story can be read on The Spinoff.

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Brexit: Northern Ireland hoping for unfettered access to ware and seed imports from rest of the UK

Northern Ireland’s potato industry is reportedly hoping against hope that a derogation allowing the importation of both ware and seed from GB into the province, beyond December 31st, can be sorted out over the coming days. According to Wilson’s Country chairman Angus, the reality is that Northern Ireland’s potato sector is very dependent on having unfettered access to both ware and seed imports from the rest of the UK. This trade must be allowed to continue, as is, into the future.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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