TRADE AND MARKET I NG ‘A sustainable potato sector requires a stable EU policy’ What are the consequences of these problems for the European potato sector, both now and in the future? ‘The products currently available to European potato growers will be drastically reduced in the coming years. This year, well-known active substances such as mancozeb, CIPC and diquat are on the agenda for re-registration. The question is how will this end? If the range of products is narrowed, this will lead to increased production costs, because growers will have to find other solutions that are far less cost-effective than the tools they currently use. This means more expensive cultivation, lower income and a weaker competitive position of the European sector. This also threatens employment in the potato sector. I therefore also believe that the potato sector underestimates the consequences of European legislation. And I’m certain that things really are as bad as they seem and it will become worse over time. The first round of re-registrations is almost complete and the second round with new criteria based on EU Directive 1107/2009 is imminent. This is going to have a huge impact on cultivation. We can already see that it’s less easy for new products to be authorised, which means their application is restricted. Since 2011, 49 new active substances have been entered for registration in Europe, of which six have ultimately been authorised. Among them are two active substances for potatoes, benzovindiflupyr and oxathiapiprolin. In the same period, as many as twelve new active substances were authorised in the United States of America. Is this a threat to suppliers and manufacturers of plant protection products? ‘In the short term, the answer is: yes. Especially if no alternatives are available. In the long term, the challenge is to find additional innovation. However, this requires time and money. But even more important is a political partner who specifies the requirements for registering innovations. As a manufacturer, I need at least twelve years to develop and register a new active substance. Because it will cost around 250 million euros to achieve this, it’s important that we know now what politics will want in twelve years’ time.’ To what extent is all this a threat to European potato cultivation? ‘Europe is finding itself increasingly on an island of regulation from a worldwide perspective. Due to the low food prices, consumers spend about 10% of their salary on food. The supermarket shelves are always full, so food supply is not a topic for the average consumer. By making cultivation more and more expensive, the price of food for consumers will increase. Since the European consumer will feel this increase in his purse, the question is whether he wants to avoid this price rise for potato products by starting to consume imported potato products. It would be really unfortunate if products from outside the EU, produced using substances that are not authorised in the EU, were to come on the market. I wonder what responsibility the consumer will take in this regard. It’s a realistic question because both the supermarket organisations and the Because it will cost around 250 million euros to develop and register a product, it’s important that we know now what politics will want in twelve years’ time’, Albert Schirring explains. processing industries are global players. You can buy your products wherever you want and simply ship them across the world. I therefore believe that we should promote more strongly our unique position in Dutch agriculture and horticulture, where we have the least input per kilogram of product.’ How do you want to achieve this? ‘As a solution, I see a public-private partnership with a joint innovation philosophy, which it then also promotes in the European marketplace. Each partner must have an earnings model with its own ROI on its investment. This is long-term planning. In order to maintain our high level, we must continue to invest, with the ROI only coming in ten years’ time. We must focus all our efforts on producing good and healthy food on the basis of long term and sustainable planning. We can now already harvest 80 tons of potatoes per hectare. This skill of the grower in combination with growing conditions, climate, soil, sufficient water, R&D and infrastructure is Europe’s success model. It’s important to very clearly define the rules for a longer period of time and not change them halfway through the race. If nothing changes here, then I foresee less innovation, with Europe possibly losing its leading position. After all, manufacturers of crop protection products could shift their focus to other areas, simply because the authorisation policy is too uncertain for a sustainable way of working.’ ● Jaap Delleman Potato World 2017 • number 4 7 Pagina 6

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