Potato Wor ld vision A vision for the potato, beyond 2008 The International Year of the Potato has raised awareness of the potato’s key place in the global food system. As the year ends, it provides a platform for promoting a new vision for development of the potato sector beyond 2008. Potatoes will play an ever greater role in agriculture, the economy and world food security. Dramatic increases in cereal prices worldwide during 2008 have underscored the potato’s age-old role as a food security crop – potatoes are less vulnerable to financial speculation and are not often used for biofuel. The recent drop in cereal prices is no guarantee that they will not resurge. In the current climate of global economic uncertainty, FAO continues to encourage those countries that have a comparative advantage to diversify into potato production, both for food security and as a source of added value that can sustain farmers’ livelihoods. However, realizing the potato’s potential requires increases in the productivity, profitability and sustainability of potato-based farming systems. During 2008, FAO and the International Potato Center called for a new potato research agenda. The objective is to boost yields by improving the quality of planting material, breeding new varieties that are more resistant to pests, diseases, water scarcity and climate change, and developing farming systems that make sustainable use of natural resources. A renewed commitment to conserving the potato gene pool and ensuring that developing countries are able to utilize it is also needed. FAO will continue to be a key partner in development of the potato sector – advising on policies to modernize potato production, sharing its extensive knowledge of potato farming systems, and promoting sustainable intensification of production – and in strengthening links among decision-makers, producers, processors and marketing chains. For all us, every year is the year of the potato. ● PW-ACTUA Tebina is creating its own distinct profile Francis binst: ‘not everyone believes that a variety can yield 100 tons a hectare’ The Belgian seed potato merchant Binst is creating its own distinct profile in the ‘Year of the Potato’ with the high-yielding variety Tebina. Francis Binst: ‘We have already harvested 300 tons of seed of this variety this season. NeBambi Lutaladio UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), coordinated implementation of the International Year of the Potato in 2008. Quite a surface area of consumption potatoes have already been harvested in Belgium, the Netherlands and also Northern France. Next year, 25 tons will be planted in trial fields in Great Britain. Tebina will then have to compete against a major variety such as the Maris Piper. Its strongest point is the kilogram yield that is around 20 to 25 tons per hectare higher than the British variety. In Canada and in the United States, the variety has already been put forward for the Varieties List in these countries. The most important competitor for the Tebina here is the Russet Burbank variety. Except for its high yield, the variety also has three more strong points, which are its high drought tolerance, its limited nitrogen demand and its low susceptibility for Phytophthora. In addition, the Tebina is also attractive for potato growers in dry, hot regions such as Nevada in the U.S.A. In Europe, the variety is as yet very attractive for growers and buyers who want an attractively-priced potato at a low cost price. The potato variety fetches yields of 100 tons per hectare, on average needs no more than 100 kg of nitrogen per hectare, and crop protection costs 50 percent of the costs needed for Bintje. Because of all these characteristics, you see Tebina contracts coming up throughout the Benelux. These are contracts with a minimum delivery obligation of 70 to 80 tons per hectare. Trials and evidencebased practice have shown that this is no problem for the Tebina. To show the Tebina’s worth once and for all, ‘not everyone believes that a variety can yield 100 tons a hectare’, Binst had an independent sample taken before a Belgian civil-law notary. A random hectare was harvested and the entire yield weighed under the watchful eye of that civil-law notary and the yield proved to be 104.1 tons. A certificate of this notarial instrument is available at the Binst company. Like the Bintje, the Tebina is also a typical double-purpose variety and is sold to the consumer as well as to the processing industry, mainly in the form of flakes. Important buyers are the super-market chains Colruyt, Aldi and Lidl.’ ● Potato World 2009 • number 1 7 Pagina 6

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