Potato Council reinforces seed safety scheme

The Potato Council is reminding seed potato growers of the importance of the Safe Haven Certification Scheme because new pests and diseases in ware crops could result in severe financial losses.

Potato Council's head of seed and export Mark Prentice has warned growers that the future sustainability of the supply chain is at risk from increasing threats from new organisms that can potentially devastate a crop.

Prentice said: "Quarantine organisms like ring rot cause 100 per cent loss of a crop and the costs don't stop there. Safe disposal and a thorough cleaning up also have to be paid for by the grower. There is no insurance cover for this kind of loss, so it is vital the industry protects itself."

He added that this was why the scheme was set up - to create a secure supply chain offering the best possible protection. It aims to reduce the risk of outbreak through a series of standards covering all potential infection points.

"Allowing bacterial diseases such as brown rot, ring rot and Dickeya solani to take hold in this country would be catastrophic to both the seed and ware production," he said.

Seed growers are only eligible to join the scheme if they have the highest hygiene standards and acceptance into the scheme is dependent on strict, scientifically robust protocols being followed. Seed origin, hygiene, machinery, transport and storage are all reviewed prior to certification being awarded.

"Every grower has to take charge of the seed they purchase and should be asking their seed supplier to supply them seed from within the Safe Haven Certification Scheme," Prentice explained.

He continued: "As always, the customer is king. If a particular variety is not available under the scheme, the ware grower should ask for it to be included."

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