European Commissioners stabbing potato growers in the back?

October 04, 2021
Author: Jaap Delleman

We’re living in a time when a lot of data is being collected. This gives a feeling that we know everything, but having data available doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always useful information. Sometimes it’s handy to limit your data-gathering, because a large amount of data doesn’t mean that it’s usable information that you can apply as a grower.

Where it is important to collect a lot of data and to measure it very accurately, is in the quality control for the French-fry factory. Here, a single portion of chips determines the pay-out price of an entire business. Both examples call for automation and continued learning from practice. Here I see that the human factor is being increasingly disconnected from the measuring process. Soon, every quality sample will be assessed in exactly the same way throughout the year. The data can be communicated to your growers and customers. For example, by linking data from the French-fry factory to the grower’s field data and processing it with a computer programme, you can get information to optimise the operation.

European Commissioners Janusz Wojciechowski and Frans Timmermans can learn something from that. By saying that European agriculture must become 25 percent organic in next to no time and without saying how this is to be achieved and what the consequences will be, you end up stabbing both the innovative conventional, as well as the organic potato growers in the back.

A discussion with experts such as Professor Visser would help to clarify the issues for the future. And don’t expect, as Wojciechowski communicates, that if the area of organic crops increases, the price for the consumer will automatically fall. I don’t believe that this is a reliable vision that will allow customers to keep on frying chips from Europe. Before you know it, Europe will become an island, with imports still remaining possible, of course. This makes it possible, among other things, to import French-fry potatoes from America, where the potatoes are still treated with a large dose of CIPC. You can no longer call that a level playing field.

The content of this blog is the foreword from the Editor in Chief, published in PotatoWorld magazine 2021/03.

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