To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

December 31, 2008

Economic crisis threatens “potato boom”

Booming potato production in the developing world could falter as the global economic slowdown reduces investment, trade and potato farmers’ access to credit, a new Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report warned on December 15.

The threat comes at a time when potatoes have become an important staple food and a lucrative cash crop in many developing countries. China is the world’s biggest potato producer, and Bangladesh, India and the Islamic Republic of Iran are now among the world’s leading potato consumers.

PotatoesDrawing on the most recent FAO statistics, the report, New Light on a Hidden Treasure, shows that the potato is the world’s number one non-cereal food crop, with total production reaching a record 325 million tons in 2007. More than half of the global harvest was produced in developing countries.

However, the report says “dark clouds are gathering over prospects for the year ahead”. The global economic slowdown threatens to reduce flows to developing countries of investment and development assistance, including the support to agriculture that has helped many countries strengthen their potato sectors.

Developed countries may be tempted to raise trade barriers, which already apply stiff tariffs on imported potato products, while the banking crisis will leave many farmers with no credit to invest in production in 2009.

“Urgently needed is a vigorous new agenda for potato research and development aimed at protecting countries’ food security and providing new market opportunities for potato producers,” said NeBambi Lutaladio, coordinator of FAO’s International Year of the Potato 2008 secretariat.

Currently, potato yields in Africa, Asia and Latin America average just 15 tons per hectare, less than half of those achieved in Western Europe and North America. To strengthen potato farming in developing countries, FAO and the International Potato Center have called for “potato science at the service of the poor” to provide potato growers with better quality planting material, varieties that are more resistant to pests, diseases, drought and climate change, and farming systems that make more sustainable use of natural resources.

“Farmers in highland areas of Africa can harvest 25 tons of tubers from one hectare in just 90 days, which is why potato production is booming in countries like Uganda,” said NeBambi Lutaladio. “When you add value to production like that, through better storage and processing, you not only meet food needs, but have a highly profitable cash crop that can drive economic development and sustain livelihoods.

“But technology improvements need to be accompanied by other, more general measures for agricultural development, such as improved farmer access to extension, credit and production inputs, better post-harvest management and links to agro-processing and markets,” Lutaladio said.

Export Industry News

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP