Earlier this week, the Belgian and French organic potato sectors signed the new 'Covenant on robust organic potatoes 2023 - 2026'. That happened at the international Potato Europe trade show in Belgium in the presence of that country's federal agriculture minister, David Clarinval. It is the first time France is also signing such a deal.
The first Belgian agreement began in 2018 and ended in 2021. "It's basically the Belgian-French covenant that's now been signed, but we are increasingly coming together. It was signed in the Netherlands in 2017, Flanders in 2018, and Wallonia in 2019. Flanders and Wallonia decided to join forces for the second deal. And the French joined. The Dutch signed their second covenant last November, which was too early for us," says Loes Mertens on behalf of Biowallonia.
Left: Minister Clarinval signed the covenant. Right: Loes Mertens assists one of the signees.
According to Loes, this partnership with France offers even more opportunities. "The great thing is that we're involving more French players. So, this Belgian-French covenant's added value is that there are more robust varieties that are, as yet, unknown in the Netherlands. We already have 35 on the list in Belgium; that's quite a lot."
There were 55 people at the signing, says Loes, "A nice turnout. We're delighted with that. Several Dutch seed potato companies were also present, and having the minister there was great. We can look back on it with a good feeling; there was a nice atmosphere."
Maaike Raaijmakers represented Bionext at the event. "We already work with Belgium, sharing, for example, the robust varieties' results in various demo fields. It's wonderful that France is now also joining. It benefits sales when there's demand for robust potatoes in more countries," she says.
The covenant, which runs until 2026, aims to increase the percentage of robust varieties, both in the field and in distribution. It emphasizes the need for potato processors to use more robust varieties to make organic chips and fries. It is also important to have organic, robust, local varieties available (almost) year-round. In the future, the sector wants the proportion of robust varieties to rise in organic potato imports as well as exports.
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