TRADE AND MARKET I NG own varieties’ tion in the range of first-early varieties’, Buwalda explains. That’s also why Royal-ZAP has high expectations of this variety, De Geus adds. Buwalda: ‘You know, it takes at least ten or more years of trialling before you can say that a variety is suitable to continue with. And it also still needs to be accepted by the market. Well, fifteen years ago, the Anaïs was very popular, but it was still early days. You can still suffer setbacks in the early stages and that’s what actually happened to the Anaïs. Eight years ago, we’d built up the variety to 60 hectares of seed, when we got Erwinia in the stock seed. As a result, the acreage fell back to 9 hectares. From that moment, we had to start all over again with building up the acreage. Stock and crops are now one hundred percent healthy, and the seed potato acreage is back to 50 hectares. Fortunately, there’s still a demand for the variety among first-early growers and interest has remained high’, Buwalda says with a broad smile. and talk to you about it’, Gerard de Geus told Lammert In 2002, the year in which the entrepreneur continued the potato trade independently under the name Semagri, he was already fully involved in breeding. In that year, the Anaïs was already a renowned table potato variety due to its very early maturity. ‘This variety can grow into a top yield within eighty growing days and is therefore an excepHow has the takeover plan been received by your members and business relations? ‘After my contact with Lammert, I informed the daily management, the chairman and the secretary, and we started our first discussions in December. After comparing each other’s wishes and conditions and reaching agreement, we organised a board meeting at the beginning of February. We won’t comment on what those conditions were, but suffice to say that the meeting accepted them. A week later, we organised a meeting for our members, and they also unanimously adopted the proposals’. ‘I truly appreciate that the board and the members of ZAP maintained the confidentiality of the information during the negotiations’, Buwalda adds with emphasis. Thirty-five Cooperative members have accepted the takeover, says De Geus. Members are entrepreneurs who multiply seed potatoes and/or cereals only for Royal-ZAP and not for other customers. In addition, Royal-ZAP also has 35 non-member suppliers, because they also supply to other potato trading companies. De Geus points out that, if some of the Semagri growers should be interested in growing exclusively for Royal-ZAP, they can also be considered for membership. Buwalda tells us that the Semagri growers are also enthusiastic about the takeover by Royal-ZAP. ‘I’m getting only positive reactions from all the growers and, so far, I haven’t yet received a negative reaction. Off the top of my head, I can’t tell you exactly how many farmers currently grow for us. However, I do know the total acreage of seed potatoes we’ve placed with our growers in the Netherlands and that’s now 400 hectares. They see that the explosive growth, which we initiated by collaborating with Sloots Agri, can continue unabated.’ Six years ago, Semagri took over the cultivation contracts and the seed potato trade from the breeding station in Eenrum in the northern province of Groningen. From that moment on, Sloots Agri focused exclusively on developing new starch and flake potato varieties and also on potato varieties with resistances suitable for the French-fry and crisps industries. That collaboration has proved to be enormously successful’, Buwalda points out. ‘In 2011, we started with 60 hectares of seed from starch varieties and we’ve now developed to over 300 hectares. We grow purely starch varieties but also dual-purpose ones that are suitable for processing into starch as well as the potato flakes industry. Breeders that haven’t yet been mentioned but who are just as enthusiastic are the breeders of non-protected varieties who’ve worked for Semagri in recent years, or at least that’s what Buwalda has heard. ‘They are particularly happy that Semagri hasn‘t been taken over by a large seed potato trader that does its own breeding, because they can now continue their breeding activities in the same way. After all, the larger breeding stations don’t need an extra inflow of breeders.’ How do you explain the enormous growth? ‘We owe the current growth mainly to the resistances’, Buwalda continues. ‘What I mean is the AM resistances A, B, C, D, E and wart disease. Some RoyalZAP growers have already been introduced to the Semagri starch varieties, Potato World 2017 • number 3 5 Pagina 4

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