A new inter-branch organisation made up of growers, traders and processors is looking to address some of the challenges facing Belgian potato growers and traders.
The founding deed of Belpotato.be was officially signed in Huldenberg earlier this year, and its key aim will be to promote sustainability of the sector ecologically, economically and socially, essentially by looking at innovation. The new organisation will be collecting and analysing market information which it will share with the whole supply chain.
The organisation is a collaboration between five organisations: Algemeen Boerensyndicaat (ABS), Belgapom, Boerenbond, Fiwap and Fédération Wallonne des Agriculteurs (FWA). The ABS vzw (Algemeen Boerensyndicaat vzw) is one of the largest agricultural organisations in Belgium representing farmers and market gardeners, Belgapom is the recognised association for the Belgian potato trade and processing industry, Boerenbond represents the trade sector, Fiwap promotes the potato plant and potato consumption and the Fédération Wallonne des Agriculteurs (FWA) is a union.
All feel the potato chain in Belgium has enormous research and development needs as a result of rapid social developments, complexity of cultivation, strict requirements as a raw material and environmental impact.
An announcement by the organisation states: "At present, research in Belgium is insufficient in proportion to the economic importance of the potato. Existing actions among various institutions lack coherence or can respond better to the needs of the chain. Belpotato.be therefore wants to strive for more resources for research and development and better alignment with the real needs of the sector and its sustainability."
The provision of seed potatoes from outside the country is felt to be too high, while poorer quality has led to emergence problems, the statement said. This in turn has had a financial impact on ware potato producers.
With that in mind, the organisation will be pushing for the development of more Belgian production of certified seed potatoes in the most commonly used varieties and will monitor the contractual relationships to ensure that balanced commercial relationships between the producer and the first buyer remain within the supply contracts for industrial potatoes.
The withdrawal of CIPC and other legislation impacts will also be examined by the organisation and it will push for transparency of quality assessment by seeking to establish clear and unambiguous protocols.