UK must apply to EU for clearance to export certified seed potatoes.
There are significant opportunities to increase the production and supply of Irish grown seed potatoes post-Brexit, to replace UK imports, said Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue.
He has also predicted great opportunities for import substitution on the fresh chipping markets.
An amendment in December, giving the UK a favourable listing as a “Third Country Other Than” removed the prohibition on import of ware potatoes (potatoes destined for human consumption) from England, Scotland, and Wales, which would otherwise have taken effect from January 1, 2021. Prohibition was also removed on import of some plants such as apple and strawberry. But removal of this prohibition does not apply to seed potatoes.
Consignments of ware potatoes imported from England, Scotland, and Wales from January 1 can proceed, however they must be accompanied by a valid phytosanitary certificate issued by the National Plant Protection Organisation of the UK.
Meanwhile, engagement is ongoing on a UK application to the EU for ‘Third Country’ equivalence for export of certified seed potatoes to the EU.
In the Dáil, in mid- December, Minister McConalogue said Ireland is one of a small number of areas officially recognised in EU legislation as a high-grade seed area to produce seed potatoes, because the country is free from a number of significant potato diseases that occur in other member states.
“My Department supports the Irish seed potato sector by providing funding to Teagasc who carry out a very successful potato breeding programme. It further supports the seed potato sector through the production of high-grade seed material at my Department’s facility in Co Donegal. A nationwide seed certification team is in place to ensure the production of high-grade seed with the capability to deliver on additional acreage and laboratory capacity, if required.”
The certification scheme includes soil and tuber sampling and testing for pest and disease control. This high-quality disease-free seed is made available to the industry for further multiplication and supply to commercial growers and for export.
“My Department also participates in the Potato Development Group, which has representation from Bord Bia, Teagasc and the IFA, and is actively investigating future markets for Irish potatoes.
“As part of the work of this group, Bord Bia has produced a video promoting the use of Irish grown potatoes for the fresh chipping market. Recent consumer data shows that the potato market has grown in recent years in value terms. It is hoped that these gains will be sustained and increased with the jointly-funded industry and EU potato promotional scheme which has a total committed spend of nearly €2m over a three year period.”
The Minister made the Dáil statement in reply to a question by Cavan-Monaghan Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy.