McDonald’s Russia turns to local fries from new processing plant, citing Western sanction woes

Related imageFrench fries at McDonald’s restaurants from Moscow to Murmansk will be Russian from now on, as the American fast-food chain turns to homegrown potatoes to deal with ruble volatility caused by fluctuating oil prices and Western sanctions. McDonald’s Corp, which opened in Russia in 1990 as the Soviet Union collapsed, has been gradually turning to local ingredients in its Russian outlets for everything from Big Macs to chicken burgers since it opened its doors there. But till now it had relied on frozen French fries from the Netherlands and Poland as Russian spuds weren’t quite right. Now a new plant near Lipetsk, a city 450 km (280 miles) south of Moscow, using potatoes grown on local farms will supply frozen fries to the chain of 651 outlets across Russia under a long-term contract, raising the share of the chain’s locally sourced products to 98 per cent. Globe and Mail report. Reuters report

Maine Potato Board monitoring U.S.-China trade disputes

Photo / Mainebiz archivesThe Maine Potato Board is keeping a close watch on trade disputes between the United States and China, which is one of the top five export markets for U.S. potato products. The County reported the board is concerned about the possibility of potatoes becoming subject to tariffs if the trade dispute between China and the U.S. extends beyond China’s announced plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion of U.S. goods that include soybeans, aircraft and automobiles. Maine Potato Board Executive Director Don Flannery told The County that although potatoes haven’t been mentioned as a possible target of Chinese tariffs, “our product could be on the list at any time.” Maine potato farmers harvested 48,500 acres in 2017, with sales exceeding $162.3 million. “China does import a number of potatoes because they are an alternative to rice,” Flannery told the newspaper. With worldwide trade in potatoes and potato products averaging 8% annual growth, there remains significant opportunities for U.S. exports to continue to grow, according to a USPB news release. More

China aims to be first nation to grow potatoes and silkworm on the Moon

The Soviet Republic was the first country to send a man into outer space. The US landed the first man on the Moon. Now, China wants to check its first as well: they want to grow plants, including potatoes, and silkworm on the Moon. According to a recent announcement, seeds of potatoes and Arabidopsis — a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard, often used in research — will be planted on the Moon. Along with silkworm cocoons, the seeds will be launched with the Chang’e-4 moon lander and rover. China’s first probe to the far side of the Moon is currently scheduled for December. The seeds will be placed inside a cylindrical tin made from a special aluminum alloy. The tin is 18 cm tall, with a diameter of 16 cm, a net volume of 0.8 liters and a weight of 3 kilograms. It also contains water, air, and a special nutrient mixture, as well as a camera and a data transmission system. If everything goes according to plan, the seeds will be planted, they will grow and blossom and the entire process will be captured on camera. (Source: ZME Science)

Canadian breeder brought botanical potato seed to China for variety now worth billions in benefits

Junhong Qin, Research Assistant, CIP, surveys a local potato farmer.In the mid 1980’s, potato breeder and grower Peter VanderZaag, based in Ontario, Canada brought the botanical seed of the Cooperation-88 (C88) potato variety to Yunnan province in China. The C88 variety developed from that seed eventually became one of the most important potato varieties in Asia and it ended up being grown on 1 million acres (200,000 ha) of land annually. The estimated present value of benefits from planting C88 in Yunnan ranges from a low of US$ 2.84 billion to a high of US$ 3.73 billion. In a recent report published by the CGIAR, the impacts of this variety, developed by CIP in partnership with Chinese researchers, is assessed. It is said that tremendous benefits have been generated by the variety – and are still accruing. Starting in the mid-1980s, in response to the devastating effects of late blight, the International Potato Center (CIP) and Yunnan Normal University collaborated to develop the Cooperation-88 (C88) as a late blight resistant variety. C88 was officially released in 2001 and quickly became popular. Its success was attributed to its high yield, high quality, and good taste, in addition to late blight resistance. Read full report

Late blight scare: Migrant European pathogen generated aggressive new variants in India, not yet found elsewhere globally

Image result for potato late blight indiaAn international team of scientists from several countries including India, the UK and the US examined the population structure of the Phytophthora infestans pathogen that caused the 2013–14 late blight epidemic in eastern and northeastern India. Their findings were published online recently in the journal Nature.The data provide new baseline information for populations of Pinfestans in India. It was found that a migrant European 13_A2 genotype was responsible for the 2013–14 epidemic, replacing the existing populations. Mutations have generated substantial sub-clonal variation of which 19 were unique variants not yet reported elsewhere globally. The new A2 population is aggressive and has displaced the former populations. The pathogen is resistant to the fungicide metalaxyl, a commonly used fungicide Continue reading

Grant offers boost for Australian potato growers

Related imageA Yarloop potato grower in Australia says a $150,000 State Government grant for a custom-built washing/grading/packaging line will benefit the South West industry in that country. Fox Farms Pty Ltd owner Patrick Fox said his company had identified an opportunity overseas in Singapore and the Middle East to supply premium washed and brushed potatoes. “We are hoping that will relieve some of the pressure on the local market here at the moment as prices are at the lowest they have ever been,” he said. “We already currently export around three-and-a-half thousand tonne of seed potatoes and fresh processing potatoes. Mr Fox said he hoped the first shipment of washed potatoes would leave in August. “By the end of next year we expect to be exporting around 5000 tonne of fresh, washed potatoes,” he said. More

Dutch company Farm Frites to build $165m potato processing facility in Kazakhstan

Related imageIt is reported from Kazakhstan that Dutch based Farm Frites will open a potato processing facility in the Almaty region of the country in 2019. Kazakhstan’s investment promotion company Kazakh Invest is said to have organized a number of meetings between managers of the Dutch company Farm Frites, Simon Quist and Jos den Boer, and highly placed authorities in Kazakhstan, including the Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Umirzak Shukeyev, according to the official website of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan. During the past year, Farm Frites reportely conducted several potato variety trials in the country in order to find suitable processing varieties. Construction of the factory is scheduled for April 2019. The total cost of the project is $165 million with a capacity of processing 70 thousand tons of potatoes per year. Report

Ahead of looming crisis, the Potato Mission ends in India’s Odisha state

Image result for Ahead of impending crisis, Potato Mission ends in OdishaWith yet another potato crisis looming over the state, the much-hyped potato mission that was launched to achieve self-sufficiency in potato production and enhance storage capacity for potatoes is all set to come to an abrupt end in March 2018. The three-year old mission by the government failed badly in meeting the targets of production as well as storage. Ironically in the last three years potato production has gone down. The area of total potato cultivation in the state also came down from 25,000 hectares in 2015 to 22,000 hectares in 2017. “The three year period of the Potato Mission is going to be over in March, but we are working on what can be done to increase the area of cultivation as it was targeted in the mission. Ultimately it was the choice of the farmers to opt for potato cultivation, which did not happen leading to reduction of areas,” said agriculture secretary Sourabh Garg. More

Large organic potato and vegetable project for APH Group in Russia

Image result for aph group potatoAPH Group with its headquarters in the Netherlands recently concluded a multi-million Euro contract with a Russian enterprise to deliver machines and installations for the organic production of potatoes and vegetables. The project is being implemented in the South of Russia and will be the largest organic potato and vegetable farm in Russia. The customer is a Russian entrepreneur who sees the opportunity to sell biological products in the urban areas of Russia. The enterprise is supported by a Western-European certification institute. APH Group was founded in 1997 and has since then been active in Russia. APH Group operates in Russia from a branch in Chekhov (Moscow region) and has local service support available in Krasnodar.  Besides Russia, APH Group operates by means of subsidiaries, dealers and agents in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. APH Group export to over 20 countries. (Source: APH Group)

Trend: More Chinese taking to potatoes

Foods made from potatoes are reportedly more popular than before in China, although the prices are slightly higher. The changes have come about as China began boosting the total potato cultivation acreage, making the potato one of the country’s top staples to better ensure food security under the pressure of dwindling farmland, water and labor assets, among other issues. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, China will have more than 6.67 million hectares of potato planting areas by 2020. “Potatoes grow well, are easily planted and stored, and boast rich nutritional content,” said Li Xuewen, an official with Dingxi’s potato industry office. As the government campaign deepens, more companies are taking a bigger slice of the market. Dingxi, a leading potato-growing base in Gansu, has 15 potato-based food processing manufacturers and 22 production lines, with annual production capacity exceeding 120,000 metric tons. The booming potato industry is also benefiting farmers. More

Researchers from the US, Indonesia and Bangladesh creating GMO potato to fight late blight

Image result for potato late blightResearchers from the U.S., Indonesia and Bangladesh is creating a genetically-engineered potato to fight the late blight. The disease remains an issue for farmers worldwide, especially in Bangladesh, where many struggle with hunger. “Late blight is the number one constraint for potato production, and Bangladesh has a perfect environment for this disease,” said Jim Bradeen, co-director of the University’s Stakman-Borlaug Center and a scientific advisor for the project. The United States Agency for International Development’s Feed the Future partnership, led by Michigan State University, is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and the University of Idaho, along with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute and the J.R. Simplot Company. The researchers are working to implement durable disease resistance in potatoes using three disease-resistant genes, Bradeen said. Since the pathogen that causes late blight disease can evolve and become resistant to the genes designed to protect the crop, researchers hope using three genes will be an adequate defense. They hope to introduce the potato in Bangladesh in the next six months to a year. More

Russia blocks two potato shipments imported from Egypt

Egypt's Ain Sokhna Port (Photo:Reuters)
Russia’s agricultural quarantine authorities flagged two potato shipments from Egypt that were found to be contaminated with potato brown rot. The Ministry of Trade and Industry in Egypt denied the allegation that Russia has imposed bans on potato imports from Egypt due to a lack of quality. He stressed that Russia has not placed a blanket ban on Egypt’s potato exports to Russia. The ministry added that the ban has been limited to two regions, including Beheira, which is where the shipments originated from. Egypt has set phytosanitary regulations, the ministry stated, assuring that Egyptian agricultural exports are free of pests. Such regulations have led to a dramatic upturn in Egypt’s potato exports to Russian markets in 2017, reaching $118.4 million, compared to $ 45.4 million in 2016. More

China: A potato production powerhouse

Hundreds of potato stakeholders from around the globe will descend on Cusco, Peru, in May for the 10th World Potato Congress (WPC). One the largest groups of participants will be from China, the leading potato producer in the world and the host nation for the last WPC in 2015. According to Peter VanderZaag, a WPC director, the event in China was a tremendous success for the host country. WPC 2015 was held in Yanqing near Beijing, China, only a few months after the government unveiled plans to ramp up potato production and promote consumption of potato products as part of a new “Potato as a Staple Food Policy”. CEO of the WPC, Belgian Romain Cools says the knowledge sharing and networking opportunities provided by WPC 2015 were a boon to the Chinese potato industry. Cools believes the congress in 2015 played a pivotal role in helping drive China’s Potato as a Staple Food Policy forward. Kaiyun Xie, chief technology officer for Xisen Potato Industry Group Co. Ltd. in Leling, China, says China might be the only country in the world to invest so much budget on potato research and development. More

Ban on Turkish potatoes due to fears of potato wart disease spread

Related imageThe former Soviet republic of Georgia in the Caucasus region is reportedly banning the import of potatoes from Turkey for a three-month period because of the danger of the spread of potato wart disease (or black scab; potato canker). Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has already signed this order. Potato wart is considered a most serious and devastating disease for potatoes. Synchytrium endobioticum is a chytrid fungus that causes the disease. It also infects some other plants of the Solanum genus, though potato is the only cultivated host. that causes the potato wart disease. It also infects some other plants of the Solanum genus, though the potato is the only cultivated host. If the soil is infected with a diseased potato, the soil cannot be used for cropping for 20 years. Last year Georgia produced about 250,000 tonnes of potatoes, and Agriculture Minister Levan Davitashvili said that “the demands of the Georgian population are fully satisfied with the current Georgian potato production. Thus we want to reduce our dependence on import as the country has a 100 percent self-sufficiency.” (Source:

Seeds of Change: True potato seed trialled in Bangladesh

Image result for true potato seedThe production of potatoes from “true potato seed” (TPS) is being trialled in Nilphamari, Bangladesh. This method involves allowing potato plants to mature until they produce male and female flowers. With cross-pollination the plants then bear a greenish fruit about the size of a small tomato. The fruit are full of seeds. These “true seeds” can later be planted to establish another potato crop. The main advantage of producing true seeds is easy storage. True potato seed can be stored securely and simply, in an airtight glass jar. According to Ataur Rahman, the assistant director of the Domar Foundation farm where the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation sponsored trial is underway, “only 600 grams of seeds are needed to sow an acre and produce a 4.5 tonne yield. To achieve 3.5 tonnes of potatoes per acre using tubers, around 720 kilograms of potato tubers would be required at the outset. Thus the true seed method is significantly more practical at the planting stage, and also produces a better harvest.” More