Published online: Feb 15, 2012 Seed Potatoes
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This year the USPB will be organizing several seed potato market visits for U.S. growers to learn about opportunities and meet current and potential seed buyers. Please see the schedule below for USPB organized visits:

February 14-22 - Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka reported total potato production of 61,700 metric tons in 2009, more than twice its level just 10 years before when production totaled 27,170 metric tons. It imports 6-7,000 metric tons of seed potatoes annually to supply its expanding potato production. Most potatoes are consumed as table-stock, as there are no potato chip producers nor frozen processors.

Around 90 percent of the seed imported is Granola. Sri Lanka's traditional potato-growing areas are in the cool highlands. Space is very limited in the highlands, and there is a desire to extend planting into the coastal areas of the country where there is flat land. The hot coastal areas plant potatoes in early November for harvest in February. The primary variety planted in the lowlands is Desiree. This market has historically been supplied by the Dutch, but also with small amounts from Germany, Scotland, Australia and India.

February 20-25 - Nicaragua

Nicaragua is primarily a fresh potato market. In 2009, Nicaragua consumed about 45,000 metric tons of potatoes, and produced about 35,000 MT. Nicaragua plants about 5,681 acres of potatoes, but they probably could plant much more acreage if they had varieties adaptable to higher temperatures. Nicaragua imported 1,250 MT of seed potatoes from the U.S., Holland and Guatemala. The potential demand for seed is close to 3,000 MT.
For the U.S. potato industry, Nicaragua's gradual increase in potato production opens up opportunities for seed exports. Industry sources indicate domestic consumption of fresh potatoes will rise an average 1-3 percent in the short term, based on a higher availability of locally grown potatoes due to substantial productivity increases and new plantations in the northern region of Nicaragua. Nicaragua implemented an import protocol for U.S. seed potatoes in January 2006, making it possible for U.S. seed potatoes to be imported into the market. Currently Granola, Cal White and Jacqueline Lee are registered in Nicaragua and Marcy, Red LaSoda, LaChipper, Keuka Gold and Kenita are hoped to be registered soon.

March 25-30 - Uruguay

Uruguay has been importing U.S. seed for seven years, with seed sales steadily increasing. For 2009/10 the U.S. exported about 725 MT of seed potatoes. Uruguay plants roughly 9,000 hectares (22,230 acres) of potatoes per year and consumes about 48 kg per person per year. They have a need for about 15,000 to 18,000 MT of seed per year. Roughly 3,000 MT are imported and the rest is "National" seed. The U.S.'s largest competitors for seed potato market share are Canada, Benelux and Chile. Canada is the largest supplier. The primary variety grown in Uruguay is Chieftain.

April 1-6 - Egypt

Egypt has been steadily increasing its production and consumption of potatoes in the last five years and is one of the largest seed potato importing nations in the world. They currently receive almost all their seed from Europe. Egypt imported over 100,000 MT of seed in 2010-11. Egypt is also a fresh potato exporter, having exported over 400,000 MT of table-stock potatoes, primarily to Europe, but also to Russia and other Middle Eastern countries.

Local production is shared between retail and industrial use, with the bulk of fresh potatoes sold on the retail market and the remainder processed into chips and frozen fries. The primary varieties for import are Spunta and Nicola for the fresh market and Lady Rosetta and Hermes for the chip market. A market access agreement still needs to be finalized for U.S. seed potatoes; however, exports may still be able to occur based on import permits.

The USPB is currently conducting its second year of variety trials that include both fresh market and chipping varieties to determine their adaptability to the growing conditions. These trial results will also be used for registration of U.S. varieties, another hurdle that must be overcome to fully open the market.

SOURCE: United States Potato Board