In the Netherlands, two farmers have initiated a great concept called ‘Proud Farming’, where farmers can show and tell what they are doing in their businesses and why. We had a meeting with people who support and carry out this initiative. It is our duty to tell the real story because sometimes it is wrongly interpreted by the media. We protect our crops to prevent crop failures and to continue to grow quality products.
Fortunately, there is awareness of our beautiful and important sector among politicians. In a newsletter from Helma Lodders (a politician in the Netherlands), the ‘Potato Plan’ is described as a symbol for all the wonderful products found in the Netherlands and she has chosen the potato as a symbol for 2017. In addition, there is budget available for potatoes, including 40 million euro for innovation, precision and smart farming. These are areas where Adama is also working, for example, there is an initiative in Australia, where plant protection is applied by robots. More info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1JMqN71XV4
Last month I was involved in a lot of activities regarding “Talent” (our sprout-growth-regulation product). I visited many storage cells and storage temperatures are increasing slowly because the planting season starts in about 7-8 weeks. During a visit to McCain, we discussed the possibilities of storing seed potatoes with Talent. Certainly, for the cultivation of potatoes for CêlaVíta, Talent will have additional value, but there could also be a benefit where cultivation for consumption is concerned. During a presentation to the Flemish Association of Seed Potato Growers, I explained the benefits of an application of Talent. This was a good meeting and showed that Bintje is still the most popular seed variety in Flanders (254 ha), followed by Fontane (186 ha).
Besides Belgium, Russia is also an important sales channel for our potatoes and fortunately, once again, they will import 14,000 tonnes of seed potatoes. It turns out that foreign customers still see Dutch agriculture as a high quality and reliable supplier. We must continue to work on that and demonstrate this assertion to our customers.
My seven-year-old son's first speech at school was about the potato. He wanted to explain to his school mates how important agriculture is. Full of pride, he told them how farmers plant, harvest and store their products, and he included the beautiful story about Mr De Vries, who founded the world-wide variety Bintje in 1905.
Our agriculture and horticulture is full of these kinds of innovations and developments which, rightly, we should be proud of. I therefore call on all farmers to share the true story directly from the farmer's perspective and to contribute to raising awareness of our beautiful agricultural sector.
Olaf van Campen is Adama’s Northern Europe Crop Manager for Potatoes and Sugarbeets. He joined Adama six years ago as development specialist in the N-Zone in Europe (Scandinavia and Baltics). Previously, having studied Agricultural Business Mangement, Olaf worked for HZPC, the biggest seed potato company in the world, based in Joure, Netherlands, where he was a sales/logistic representative for consumption potatoes in Europe. He then went on to work in the advisory service Delphy in the Netherlands, giving advice in arable crops like potatoes, sugarbeets, onions, carrots, cereals.