W18: Potato Update

In W18 in the potato landscape, it was reported that Ukraine exported 14.8KT of potatoes in the Q1 of 2023, with Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan being the top export destination. Ukraine imported 1.8KT of potatoes abroad, with USD 1.1M spent on imports. In Kenya, more than 20K small-holder potato farmers in Nakuru County will benefit from programs to align climate-smart innovations and technologies. The Kenyan Governor's administration is equipping agricultural extension officers to train farmers on modern farming practices to mitigate risks. Kenya's potato seed demand is 30KT annually. The volume of seed potato imports to Georgia is 45% higher than the average for the previous nine years and is the highest since 2015. Since December 2022, 1.8KT of seed potatoes have been imported, with 1kg of seeds producing 10kg of ware potatoes. Georgia's total potato production typically hovers around 200KT. The Russian Potato Union estimates that potatoes in Russia were planted in only 25% of the planned potato cultivation areas for this season. An increase in the planting area is not expected as potatoes are becoming a product with low profitability for Russian producers.

In Spain, the Andalusian harvesting campaign for early new potatoes is beginning in the provinces of Seville, Córdoba, and Cádiz, with an estimated planted area slightly lower than in 2022. This reduction is due to the drought, high temperatures, and damage caused by the frost this winter. Also, the early potato production in southern Spain has been significantly reduced as a result of drought and frost damage, estimating a 25–35% drop from the previous season. In Spain, potato harvest is ongoing in Seville, Cordoba, and Cadiz. In Brazil, the price of washed agate potatoes increased 24.45% MoM in April 2023, reaching an average price of USD 11.80/25kg (BRL 58.87/25kg). The increasing price is attributed to a supply reduction due to the end of the rainy season. The demand for potatoes produced in Bangladesh is increasing globally, with 200 tons being exported to Malaysia, Russia and Sri Lanka. The FAO is working with the government to increase exports of key crops, including potatoes, as part of a long-term vision to transform Bangladesh's agriculture sector. Sherpur District Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has set a target of 5,110ha of potato cultivation, but the plantation has been much more than this. 88,774T of potatoes have been harvested on 5,222ha of land.

Lastly, researchers in the United States have received a USD 750K grant from the USDA to develop and evaluate sustainable methods of managing potato early die complex, which can reduce potato yields by up to 50%. Michigan is the nation's leader in potato production, contributing USD 1.24B to its economy. In the United Kingdom, GMO potatoes could be ready by 2025. The photo boost project aims to increase photosynthesis in potato crops to promote yield, water use efficiency, and drought tolerance. Scientists have seen photosynthesis rates increase by 20-25%, overcoming photoprotection and accelerating recovery. Further, Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in hybrid potato breeding by using evolutionary genomics to identify deleterious mutations, which may help shorten the breeding process and generate better varieties.

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