TRADE AND MARKET I NG World potato output tops 400 million tonnes and is heading for half a billion World potato production could reach 400 million tonnes for the first time this year and may reach 500 million tonnes within the next decade, says Cedric Porter, co-editor of World Potato Markets. E stimating world potato production is not an exact science. The last official estimate by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation was in 2014, when it was estimated that 382 million tonnes of potatoes were produced. That was an increase of 14.0% on the 2009 figure or an average increase of 2.3% a year. If that level of increase was repeated in 2015 and 2016, then it would be safe to assume that the 400 million tonnes figure will be reached in 2017. That would cement the potato’s position as the world’s fourth largest non-sugar food crop after corn, wheat and rice. But where are these potatoes being grown? One thing is clear – the increase in production is not coming from the traditional potato powerhouses of Europe and North America. US production remains at around 20 million tonnes, with Canada delivering 5 million tonnes a year – yields in both countries are also stable at 46 tonnes/hectare for the US and 33t/ha for Canada. EU production is around 55 million tonnes with total yields at just over 30t/ha. Outside the top ten, there has been significant growth in north Africa potato production. Greatest gains in China The greatest gains in production this decade have been in Asia. Chinese production jumped by 29.5% to nearly 95 million tonnes between 2009 and 2015 driven by a 19.4% increase in average yields combined with an 8.0% growth in the potato area. Indian production increased by 42.4% between 2009 and 2015 as average yields increased by 22.3% and the area was up by 16.7%. Both China and India have official targets of increasing potato production by Potato World 2017 • number 3 41 Pagina 44

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