At­tempts to un­der­mine potato mar­ket ‘will not be tol­er­ated’

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

THE IFA has warned that it will not tol­er­ate any at­tempts by re­tail­ers or mer­chants to un­der­mine the potato mar­ket as har­vest­ing of this year’s main crop kicks off.

Ire­land har­vests around 330,000t of pota­toes each year, which is worth be­tween €8090m. IFA potato chair­man Eddie Doyle urged re­tail­ers and mer­chants to pay a vi­able price to grow­ers this year.

He said potato farm­ers who store pota­toes to en­sure a year­round sup­ply have not re­ceived sus­tain­able re­turns over the last num­ber of sea­sons.

Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture fig­ures re­veal the area of pota­toes planted in 2017 is the sec­ond low­est on record at 8,900ha; this should en­sure a con­tin­u­a­tion of the bal­anced mar­ket, Mr Doyle said.

Potato grower Lau­rence Flynn has been fre­quently check­ing the weather fore­cast as they be­gin to har­vest just out­side Swords, Co Dublin.

The five brothers, who op­er­ate un­der the name Paud Flynn and Sons in Rush, grow 1,400ac of grain and pota­toes.

Mr Flynn said that tra­di­tional potato va­ri­eties for the main crop make up the bulk of their plant­ings. They also sup­ply a num­ber of Ital­ian chip shops.

“They [the chip shops] were all buy­ing English and it was some­thing that we’ve tapped into,” he said.

Dublin agron­o­mist Richard Hack­ett said the main crop har­vest had been de­layed this year as a re­sult of the poor weather and most crops were be­ing lifted to or­der up to now.

How­ever, he pre­dicted that this week’s weather should en­able farm­ers to start har­vest­ing the main crop.

The gen­eral con­sen­sus is that crops have per­formed well and should yield around 35-37 t/ha of saleable pota­toes. The health ben­e­fits of the hum­ble spud is the fo­cus of this year’s Na­tional Potato Day which takes place this Fri­day.

This year’s theme is ‘ Pota­toes: What’s Un­der the Skin’ and the in­dus­try and Bord Bia- Lau­rence Flynn from Paud Flynn and Sons har­vest­ing Kerr’s Pink in North Dublin PHOTO: KYRAN O’BRIEN

led event aims to break the link be­tween spuds and fast foods such as chips and crisps.

Di­eti­cian and broad­caster Aoife Hearne will ex­plore cook­ing meth­ods and pro­vide a raft of healthy recipes for con­sumers.

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