Thailand to accept Alberta seed potatoes

Alberta is now the third Canadian province from which seed potato growers are eligible to export to Thailand.

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay on Monday announced a new export agreement by which Thailand will accept imports of seed potatoes produced in Alberta.

“Alberta has a very innovative and progressive seed potato industry and is looking forward to the opportunity to grow low-virus, high-quality seed varieties requested by the Thai potato industry,” Deb Hart, seed potato co-ordinator for Potato Growers of Alberta, said in a federal government release.

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The group worked with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry “to profile our seed industry to Thailand officials and to receive approval to export seed to their country,” Hart said.

Alberta, with this agreement in place, joins Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, both of which have had seed potato export agreements with Thailand since 2009. The three provinces combined produce about 76 per cent of Canada’s seed potato exports overall.

Seed potato exports from Alberta to Thailand are forecast to be worth up to $2 million per year, on top of the $5 million per year in seed potatoes already exported to Thailand from Canada on average, according to industry experts cited in the federal government’s release.

While seed potatoes developed in Canada are designed for a northern climate, AAFC said, they’re sought by growers in more southern countries also for what’s described as their “northern vigour.”

The potatoes’ adaptation to the north’s long summer days “enhances their energy and vigour,” so when grown in warmer latitudes, the seed offers “more consistent crop development, higher yields and superior grades” that carry over through several generations, AAFC said.

Already considered a lead seed potato exporter for Canada, Alberta produced over 128,000 tonnes of seed potatoes last year alone, the government said.

Seed potatoes, for domestic and export markets, represent about 14 per cent of Alberta’s potato production, according to PGA. About 81 per cent goes to processing, such as for French fries and potato chips, while the remaining five per cent goes to fresh table potatoes. — AGCanada.com Network

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