Published online: Nov 23, 2012 Potato Harvesting, Seed Potatoes
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FRIESLAND, Wis.-In January 2012, Larry Alsum, President and CEO of Alsum Farms & Produce Inc., and Derrick Smit, Safety and Training Coordinator at Alsum, spent two weeks in Liberia and Ghana working alongside local growers, sharing their years of experience in sustainable farming and water conservation. They also held farming and marketing workshops for the farmers interested in establishing agribusinesses to help support their families and communities.
Now, as a follow-up to that visit, Alsum Farms & Produce has shipped 40 ton of Wisconsin seed potatoes, as well as four tons of fertilizer, to the capital cities of each nation. While Ghana is more advanced than Liberia, hunger is still prevalent in rural areas; Liberia remains one of the world's poorest countries. Alsum hopes to help alleviate this by providing farmers with the means to grow a crop that will provide them with much-needed nutrients-potatoes.

In the months since his visit to Africa, Alsum has been working closely with seed potato growers at Wild Seed Farms and Guenthner Farms, Inc. both located in Antigo, Wis., to determine which seed potato varieties would be best suited to the soils, precipitation levels and climate of Ghana and Liberia. Alsum consulted with Tom Wild, who has been exporting seed potatoes to Central America for 15 years, and Peter Joyce, Seed Consultant to the United States Potato Board, who has completed agricultural projects in Burkina Fasso. They selected Red La Soda and White Langlade seed potatoes. In addition to carefully selecting seed varieties, Alsum has collaborated with Jay Mar in Plover, Wis, on a fertilizer that would provide a sound fertility plan for the potatoes.