TRADE AND MARKET I NG keeps the local potato chain afloat W ith a total surface area of 385,252 square kilometres, Norway is nine times the size of the Netherlands, of which 856,200 hectares is farmland; this is half as much as the agricultural area in the Netherlands, which is around 1,768,000 hectares. With only 5.1 million people, most of whom live in the cities, the countryside is very sparsely populated. The country is also geographically long. From Oslo to the northernmost point of the country is just as far as travelling from Oslo to Rome. Its length also means that the country has different climates. For the potato, this is not a problem. Potato cultivation takes place throughout the country, even in the province of Finnmark, which lies at a latitude of 70 degrees north. The total potato area has shrunk considerably over the last few decades. Nearly 19,000 hectares were still cultivated in 1990; last year, the area had dropped to just over 11,000 hectares. An important reason for the decrease is the considerably-reduced consumption of fresh table potatoes. For example, the Norwegians still consumed 32.9 kilograms of table potatoes per capita before the turn of the century, but today this has almost halved to 16.9 kilograms. Here too, the main buyers of potatoes are the processing industries. On average, for table and processing varieties, the growers realise a yield of around 26 tons per hectare, bringing the total annual production to approximately 310,000 tons. More than 25 percent of the cultivation takes place around Oslo, where the climate is moderate in summer. The plots are large here and the country is fairly flat. The further north, the rougher the area. Potato cultivation is a challenge here. Because of the cold winters and wet springs, growers are often not able to start planting until the beginning of May. The harvest must be in before 1 October, which means that the growing season is limited to a period of five months. As the country has a northerly location, the days are long, which extends the growing season (the number of photosynthesis hours). However, the long growing days require suitable varieties. This means that not all the varieties we have in the Netherlands can be grown under Norwegian conditions. Closed for the import of seed potatoes Norway is not a member of the European Union and it has closed its borders for the import of seed potatoes. It is possible, however, to introduce varieties here and cultivate them. For example, the Dutch varieties grown here are Asterix for table potato, Lady Cristl for crisps, and Innovator for the processing market. These are currently the most important varieties here. The import of fresh ware potatoes is only possible in combination with an import levy. However, if there is a shortage of homegrown potatoes, it is possible to import potatoes without a surcharge. To get an idea of the cultivation and trade in Norway, we visited a number of growers and companies in the central and southern parts of the country together with Borghild Glorvigen of the Norsk Landbruksrådgiving (NLR) information service. Potato World 2020 • number 1 25 Pagina 24

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