In different geographies potatoes are being grown mostly by small-scale farmers in a low-input/low-output system. Production levels continue to be very low while the demand is growing steadily due of economic growth and urbanization. As a crop, the Potato has the potential to make a significant contribution to food systems in specific agro-ecosystems. It can have an immediate and long-term impact on poverty, employment and entrepreneurship, food insecurity, and climate change resilience, especially for vulnerable communities.
The role of the Dutch sector
The Dutch potato sector has a strong global reputation, also in Africa and Asia. However, stakeholders in the Dutch potato sector realise that a collective contribution to improving potato production systems and markets in those geographies demands a more integrated and targeted approach. It requires a joint vision and partnerships between industry, government, regulatory bodies, knowledge and educational organizations, civil society and farmers’ organizations.
NFP supporting a joint vision
In 2019, the Dutch Potato Organization (NAO) and the Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP) initiated a study to learn about recent potato sector development programmes, define leverage points for strengthening and transformation of the potato sector in LMICs. The study was also a steppingstone to explore the need for a potato platform to enhance collaboration, set an agenda for sustainable potato sector development, promote new initiatives, and improve the effectiveness of Dutch funded programmes.
It was concluded that the first step should be a vision document prepared by the NAO together with all stakeholders and supported by the Netherlands Food Partnership. The document provides insights into the major challenges and the strengths and opportunities for the Dutch potato sector for supporting the transformation of the potato sector in LMICs. Parallel, the establishment of a Potato Impact Centre of Expertise is explored to meet its ambitions, and increase its impact working in developing countries and emerging economies. Such a centre should be sector owned, thus be embedded within the ‘Dutch Potato Diamond’. The vision document is expected to be published and presented early 2021.
Since the ambitions, challenges and foreseen activities of the potato sector overlap to a large extent with the agenda of SeedNL, consultations are initiated to explore concrete linkages with SeedNL and the possibilities to position a Potato Impact Centre of Expertise within the SeedNL organization. It should be noted that the Potato Impact Centre of Expertise will have a broader scope than seed only; also other (processing) companies operating in the potato sector will be involved.