The newly-formed peak potato industry body is calling on growers and other stakeholders across the sector to become a member to help promote and grow as a united body.
Potatoes Australia Ltd. Executive Officer Liz Mann says the organisation, which held its inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Ballarat this year, was primarily set up to be the voice of the potato industry value chain.
"We want to be an industry body that not only represents the growers, but also the processors and also other people across the supply chain," she said. "Some of our objectives are to help drive on-farm productivity growth, by increasing farm yields, aiming for an annual three per cent growth. Also, we want to support the long-term industry sustainability by bringing the whole value chain together to meet sustainability targets in a profitable way. Another aim is to engage the retail sector in a robust and ongoing dialogue to focus on key industry issues. We will also try to increase the value of the domestic fresh market, and establish a better model for research and development."
Photo courtesy: Potatoes Australia website
She added that a previous industry body, Potatoes South Australia wanted to have a national focus and there was also a desire from all sectors of the industry to have a united front, hence the idea of forming a national body called Potatoes Australia Ltd. came about to reflect the industry interests. Hence Potatoes South Australia ceased and Potatoes Australia Ltd commenced. Ms Mann says a membership drive is currently underway to encourage as many industry members as possible to join.
“Membership is open to growers and other people in the supply chain,” Ms Mann said. “The initial step is getting growers registered as members, so at the moment the members of Potatoes Australia Ltd are the board but we are encouraging membership from more people involved in the industry. We want to support and achieve the long-term sustainability of the potato industry by bringing the entire value chain together – at the same time improving the industry R&D model. Membership is quite affordable for growers, in between $100-$250 for the majority of the farm businesses. For Potatoes Australia Ltd. to really get going and runs on the board, we really need members."
According to the Hort Innovation, Australian Statistics Handbook, for the year ending June 2021, 1,458,991 tonnes of potatoes were produced in Australia and valued at $807million, with 67 per cent or 975,000 tonnes ($347m) sent to processing. Export-wise, Australia exported 37,274 tonnes of fresh potatoes with 44 per cent of exported fresh potatoes sent to South Korea.
Australia will also host the 12th World Potato Congress, in June 2024, which Ms Mann says is a great opportunity to showcase the Australian industry to the world.
"Even though we may be smallish on a global scale, it doesn't mean that we cannot be seen as professional, and really show the world what is happening in Australia in terms of potato production," she said. "It'd be nice to think that we are up there with the world leaders when it comes to the adoption of technology and innovative and sustainable farming practices. But most of all, it's a great opportunity to show what we are all about. In some ways, the Australian industry is seen to be at the forefront of having to deal with climate change variability."
For more information
Potatoes Australia Ltd