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Dutch potato sector accesses Argentinian market

After years of negotiations, the Argentinian border was recently opened for Dutch baby potatoes. The export of in-vitro propagated potato plants to the South American country is also now allowed. The Dutch Potato Organisation (NAO) are calling this a breakthrough of great importance for  the Dutch potato sector.

The NAO is the branch organisation of potato traders, farmers and processors. Karst Weening of the NAO represented the organisation in the talks with Argentina. "The potato sector in Argentina has a lot of potential", says Weening. "Dutch export products have an excellent image. We may finally export again, which is good news for exporters."

Four years of negotiations
The Argentinian and Dutch authorities negotiated for almost four years about market access. During this time, the genetic improvement of the Argentinian potato sector all but ceased. Dutch produce is very popular with growers and processors in that country.  

The large potato processing companies in Argentina, like the Dutch Farm Frites and Canadian McCain, are always looking for new varieties. This is in order to satisfy the wishes of their customers and to take optimal advantage of Argentina's specific cultivation conditions. Dutch genetic progation material exporters -  HZPC, Agrico and, for example, Meijer Potato – have been wanting the Argentinian border to open for years.

Ring rot infestation
The bacterial disease, Ring Rot, was discovered at an Argentinian farm four years ago. This prompted Argentinian authorities to immediately close the border for all propagation material from the Netherlands, as the seedlings at the infested farm were from this country. The NVWA launched an intensive investigation in the Netherlands after this discovery. It found nothing. There was talk of a false positive in Argentina at that time.

Produced in a completely sterile environment
The negotiations for the conditions under which the border would be opened again took years. The Argentinian authorities were eventually convinced that baby potatoes and in-vitro plants are grown in completely sterile environments. According to the Argentinian equivalent of the NVWA there is no risk of the disease being transferred via the importation of the propagation material from the Netherlands.

Achievement for Dutch potato sector

According to Weening of the NAO, this is an achievement for the potato sector. "The Netherlands played a crucial role in the Argentinian potato sector in the past. This was introducing new varieties and the improvement of existing varieties. This has been at a standstill for too long."

Growing economy
The Argentinian economy is growing. The business sector can now dare to invest since the appointment of President Macri in 2015. This is also the case in the agricultural sector. The potato processing companies want to expand. This is also because the neighbouring Brazil has  greatly increased import costs on chips from Europe. Weening: "This creates opportunities for the McCain and Farm Frites factories in Argentina."

Source: Agroberichten Buitenland

Publication date: 7/20/2017


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