When I read Farmers Weekly in the Netherlands recently, one article grabbed my attention. The headline said: "Potato cultivation might disappear in the Netherlands”.
According to the ABN Amro Bank, farmer profitability and more stringent environmental requirements are putting pressure on the potato market.
It claimed that neighboring countries had better access to alternative greener crop protection products, putting Dutch growers at a competitive disadvantage. However, I doubt this is correct. Green products are available in the Netherlands. In the potato sprout inhibition, for example, there are treatments based on natural active ingredients that are permitted for use. There are also new biological nematicides and fungicides entering the market soon.
A second reason to be more positive about the future of the potato is a report by Rabobank in August. It said “seed potato farmers will have to push the limits”.
And it added that until 2020, there would be a global growth in demand for potatoes. This would ensure a strong market for potato products and seed. Rice would also be replaced in the future by potatoes because production is less water dependent. It all adds up to great opportunities for Dutch exporters.
A third reason to believe that the potato has a vibrant future in the Netherlands (and in Europe) is its nutritional value. Take a look at the film below on YouTube which highlights the health benefits from eating potatoes. In addition to that there is great inspiration on how you can easily include potatoes in your exercise regime:
Recently, I gave a presentation in Britain on European crop protection issues for potatoes. There are a lot of changes on the way. A number of active substances are under pressure and may even lose their authorisation. Linuron (and imidacloprid) are examples. There will also be restrictions on their use as we have seen with Imazalil.
Resistance management is very important too. For example resistance in the fungal disease Alternaria is a growing problem in Europe. Information can be found at www.euroblight.net
Adama is working hard to develop solutions to these long-term future problems.
We have harvested the last potatoes with some irrigation carried out beforehand. Fortunately, irrigating is relatively easy in the Netherlands. In Belgium and other countries it is a more difficult operation. Therefore Dutch potatoes have an excellent quality advantage.
We have also made a start with our 2017 potato growing season. Ploughing in good conditions has given us a boost for next year and the sorting season is just around the corner.
As the adage says – “A good start is half the work”.
October 14, 2016
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.