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[deck]News and insights from around the globe.[/deck]

Association Blames Retailers for Crisis in Irish Potato Sector

Irish Federation of Agriculture president John Bryan said in early January that potato growers in Ireland are facing a wipeout, as retailers and packers pocket up to 80 per cent of the final consumer price and farmers are going broke. Bryan pointed out that average farm gate prices in Ireland are €130 per tonne, and retail prices are averaging at €500 per tonne. He said farmers need a doubling of the price paid to them to break even. He challenged the retail bosses to bring more equity into the situation for growers. “The excessive profiteering must end and growers must get fair play. It is not acceptable that retailers drive primary producers into bankruptcy because of a short-term oversupply situation,” said Bryan. At a potato growers’ meeting in mid-January, growers voiced anger and desperation at their situation and challenged retailers, merchants and packers to ensure that primary producers are treated fairly. There will not be a surplus of potatoes this season in Ireland. With seven months to the next harvest, almost 60 per cent of this year’s crop has now been sold. Growing conditions in 2011 were favourable with higher than normal yields, and this created a short-term oversupply in the industry. However, Irish potato production in 2011 was still down by an estimated 60,000 tonnes on 2010 production, which means that the market is more in balance than in oversupply.

Source: Irish Federation of Agriculture

Frito-Lay Ramps Up Farm Contracts in India

Plummeting potato prices for three consecutive years have prompted some Indian farmers to switch to contract farming this season. For them, securing contracts with Frito-Lay India is the only alternative for a guaranteed return. The company has reportedly doubled its target this year. According to The Times of India, Frito Lay plans to sign contracts with 9,000 farmers in India who grow potatoes on 5,000 acres of land. The assistant manager of PepsiCo (Frito-Lay Division), Prabal Roy, is quoted by The Times of India as saying, “Last year we purchased 10,000 tonnes of potatoes, which were bought from farmers and sent to our stores. We plan to procure 20,000 tonnes this season.” A typical Frito-Lay contract in India requires the farmer to provide land and labour for the production of the contracted potatoes. Frito-Lay provides the seed—usually Atlanta and Chipsona—which are different from the traditional Jyoti or Pokhraj varieties planted by most Indian farmers. Frito-Lay also provides agronomy support to growers.  Farmers get crop insurance, seed and credit from Frito-Lay, which needs to be repaid after harvest.

Source: The Times of India

Potato Extension Program Launched in Australia

AUSVEG, the body representing the interests of Australian vegetable and potato growers, recently launched a three-year initiative to enhance communication within Australia’s potato industry and to promote clearer information exchange. Dubbed the Potato Industry Extension Program, the initiative is specifically aimed at ensuring growers and potato processors are made more aware of the outcomes of research and development programs funded by industry and the Australian government, and are provided with information that can be used on a practical level. According to AUSVEG chief executive officer Richard Mulcahy, growers and processors do not have the time to read through lengthy research papers or decipher scientific processes. “We will be bringing people together from various parts of the industry, and will be focusing on face-to-face meetings,” said Mulcahy. A key element of the program will be a series of quarterly workshops held in Australia’s major potato-growing regions with the aim of ensuring the ideas of growers, processors, agronomists and researchers will become more widely available and shared. The program will also provide greater exposure to broader issues in the potato industry, such as the effects of importing and exporting potatoes in Australia, and overseas developments.

Source: AUSVEG

France Embarks on Aggressive Potato Campaign

According to Sebastien Galland, president of the French potato industry organization Comité National Interprofessionnel de la Pomme de Terre, France must ensure its position as the largest potato export country in the European Union. He said France needs to market more than one million potatoes in 2012. Galland made these remarks last December when he announced that the organization will step up efforts for a more intense marketing campaign in France’s potato export countries. With a market share of over 20 per cent in volume and 19 per cent of the total value of exported potatoes in the EU, France is not only the largest exporter of table potatoes in Europe, but also worldwide. Galland is encouraging the French potato industry to make more efforts to meet the needs of import countries to ensure the country keeps its position. CNIPT allocates 2.5 million euros annually for promotional activities for the domestic market, with €300,000 dedicated to the promotion of French table potatoes in foreign markets. Galland announced that the lion’s share of the funds will be allocated to export market development in 2012.

Source: Green Med Journal

Seed Exports Reach Record Highs in Britain

Potato Council head of seed and export Mark Prentice is looking forward to another successful year following record exports of seed potatoes last year. “Last year we smashed through the 100,000 tonne barrier thanks to Britain’s growing reputation as worldwide suppliers of seed potatoes,” explained Prentice. He said that preliminary figures for 2011/12 indicate that last year’s figures should be maintained. “Over the past 10 years we have seen a 43 per cent increase in trade, which is a result of careful development of seed potato varieties to ensure great results in varying climatic conditions. British seed potatoes are successfully produced for fresh and processed markets in countries as diverse as Egypt, South America and Asia.” According to Prentice, British exporters take great pride in maintaining their high-quality standards, which are backed by a minimum of three government inspections—two in the growing crop and a final tuber inspection which takes place after harvest. Potato Council assists importers and exporters by working closely with the authorities in importing countries to help smooth bureaucratic paths, so importers can have confidence that their seed potatoes will arrive in good time. “Our success in the export markets is mainly due to offering the different markets what they need, with timely delivery assured,” said Prentice.

Source: Potato Council

Agreement Opens Doors for Dutch Seed Exports to Kenya

A first container of high-generation potato seed from the Netherlands will soon arrive in Kenya after a final import/export agreement was signed between the governments of the two countries in January. Negotiations started in 2011 and after completion of a risk assessment related to the import of seed potatoes, the agreement was officially put in place. Until now, imports of potatoes from countries outside of Kenya were restricted to tissue culture plantlets in order to prevent the introduction of foreign crop pests and diseases. No whole seed could be imported. According to a spokesman for the Dutch government, there is a limited supply of high-quality and disease-free potato seed in Kenya. The imported potatoes are expected to yield up to five times more than traditional varieties in that country. Dutch exporters plan to introduce new varieties to Kenyan farmers, although these varieties will be trialed under local conditions for a number of seasons before large-scale commercial production is expected to start.


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