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Vol.3 ISSUE 1 SPRING 2010
In February 2010, the United States Potato Board (USPB) and representatives of the US Seed Task Force toured three of the most important potato production regions in Brazil to promote US seed potatoes with key growers. There are 20 different potato production regions scattered through the southern and central areas of Brazil.
Randy Bauscher, a seed potato grower from Rupert, ID; Steve Whited, a seed potato grower and former USPB International Marketing Committee Member from Bridgewater, ME; Kevin Waller, sales associate with Black Gold Farms in Grand Forks, ND; Edmond Missiaen, a USPB consultant in Washington, DC; J. Marcos Bernardi, USPB variety trial manager in São João da Boa Vista–SP, Brazil and Sarah Mahler, USPB International Seed Potato Marketing Program Manager from Denver, CO, led the delegation.
Brazil has the potential to be a good market for chipping variety seed potatoes from the United States. The Brazilian market for potato chips has doubled over the past four years. While Atlantic is the leading variety for chip-stock, growers would like to have alternative high-yield varieties less susceptible to disease.
Brazil produces 55 to 66 million cwt of potatoes per year. About 70 percent of production is for the fresh market, 10 percent for seed, and 20 percent for processing. Nearly one-half of the processing potatoes go to chip processors; a quarter to the country’s two fry plants and the remainder—mostly discards from fresh market shippers—to plants producing “palha,” a string-like fry product.
While challenges remain in seed potato imports meeting the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture seed potato standards, the Brazilian Potato Association (ABBA) are said to have made significant progress in addressing issues and revising these standards. Growers and importers are also negotiating for improved import inspection procedures.
During a market visit to the Dominican Republic (DR) March 3-6, 2010, organized by the USPB, two US growers were able to visit commercial fields, meet with current and potential buyers, visit the USPB variety trials and meet with USDA/APHIS and the Dominican Republic Ministry of Agriculture about US potato market access issues. US seed potato exports currently make up 15% of the seed potatoes shipped to the Dominican Republic.
Fresh potato consumption in the DR is projected at 80,000 cwt per month, most of which are locally grown. Dominican potato growers are interested in using more US potatoes for production to help them meet the local demand. The USPB will continue to work with importers and growers in the Dominican Republic to provide education about US seed potato varieties and build relationships in order to help the US industry take advantage of this growing demand.
The USPB International Seed Symposium was held in Las Vegas, July 27, 2009, and was very well attended with six US grower operations in attendance along with 22 international participants representing the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Egypt, Brazil, Sri Lanka and Uruguay.
Featuring presentations from US experts on US seed varieties, seed certification standards, APHIS and seed cutting, presentations were also given by each of the international delegations on their country and its potato production.
This biennial event provided US growers an opportunity to meet potential new buyers and learn about their needs, while international participants had the opportunity to learn from US industry experts and discuss quality US seed potatoes with US growers and shippers. Following the symposium, the international delegates departed to tour US growing regions.
Following the International Seed Symposium, held in Las Vegas, July 27, 2009, foreign importers and potato growers visited various growing areas throughout the United States. The Nicaraguans visited Washington State, the Dominicans visited California, the Brazilians visited Maine and the Sri Lankans and Egyptians visited Idaho and Montana. The group from Uruguay toured Minnesota on their own as part of a United States Potato Board (USPB) seed grant.
During visits to each state, the international participants discussed US potato production, the seed certification process and phytosanitary certificates. Groups also toured seed packing and storage facilities, fields, research facilities and testing labs.
These tours were beneficial as they were able to see, first-hand, how the seed would be packed, how storage conditions are controlled to maintain quality and learn more about the variety development process. These tours answered questions for participants on how they can be sure they are receiving quality seed potatoes that meet their countries importing requirements.
Not only did seeing US operations in person, and meeting US growers, impress the international participants, but it also gave US growers an opportunity to learn more about these foreign markets and their seed needs. Overall, the 2009 Seed Tour was extremely successful and will help further develop these markets for US seed potato exports.
The USPB utilized Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) funding and Board dollars to host two high level officials from the Uruguay Ministry of Agriculture on a visit to Colorado. The purpose of the visit was to discuss powdery scab on seed potatoes and review all of the mitigation and prevention efforts utilized in the US. The USPB and NPC are working with USDA to get Uruguay to change their classification of powdery scab on imports of US seed potatoes, and it is hoped this educational visit will help achieve that goal.
©2010 United States Potato Board