China’s urban growth and appetite for food, fuels Tasmanian potato growers’ optimism

Trevor Hall, a Scottsdale potato grower and chairman of the Tasmanian Farmers and Growers Association’s (TFGA) Simplot growers committee, said be believed Tasmania’s farming future was almost guaranteed by China’s growth. Mr Hall said his recent trip to the World Potato Congress in China had raised his hopes for the future. “One of the facts that was put to us while we were in Beijing was that Beijing is going to grow by 25 kilometres in each direction of the compass in the next decade,” Mr Hall said. “It’s just a massive amount of land that gets taken up by urban sprawl and I think it’s hard to get your head round it in Australia. “In China they’ve built their cities around their productive farming land, and there are that many people, it just expands out on their best farming land.

“The take home from it was just the sheer weight of numbers of people in China. “There’s no way known that they can ever feed themselves into the future.” Mr Hall said growers attending the congress were able to visit a large new potato processing factory and farm in inner Mongolia. He said they also saw variety trials in Mongolia in areas slated for additional potato crops. “They are on the hunt for new varieties,” Mr Hall said. “But a lot of the potato production they’re going to try and push into Mongolia, and that’s a pretty hard environment up there. “Productivity is really on their radar at the moment.

“They grow about 68 million tonnes [of potatoes] and their average yield is a bit over 17 tonnes to the hectare. “To get up to the 100-million tonnes that they want to reach, if they increase production six tonnes a hectare, they’d get their without bringing any more new land into production.”

This week Tasmanian processing potato growers are considering Simplot’s price offer for the 2016 potato crop.

Source: Abc.net.au