Seed potato growers in Scotland are being urged to join a new independent Scottish co-operative; the Seed Potato Organisation (SPO) following the demise of AHDB’s potato functions.
Reports in the local media say that a number of meetings have been held to discuss the merits of the new body, and organisers say that these discussions revealed an interest in a body which represented their specific interests, which might be overlooked by other new industry initiatives.
The board of the SPO comprises nine seed potato growers, together with technical expert Dr Philip Burgess and Patrick Hughes (SAOS Supply Chain and Export Specialist). One of the board members is Black Isle grower Jonnie Martin who says that to protect and enhance its global reputation, the seed potato sector needs a united and dynamic organisation that can work in partnership with both SASA and DEFRA to ensure an efficient sector to produce a high-quality seed product, direct scientific research and promote and further develop the health status of the seed industry at home and abroad.
“With a competent Board and an able Chairman, I see the SPO as best positioned to influence change and bring benefit. The SPO is an affordable organisation. As growers, we’re stronger together and I’d encourage all seed growers and stakeholders to join up,” said Mr Martin.
The SPO has identified four priorities for the future, including: Representing grower’s views; Funding agronomic research and innovation to benefit the seed sector; Supporting the development of seed potato markets; and ensuring the long term economic and environmental sustainability of the sector.
Angus-based seed grower Rodney Harrison told Grampian Online, “I joined because I feel our industry is at a crossroads. If we, as growers, sit back and do nothing, we could well find the industry suffers, or worse disappears. Joining the SPO gives me a voice to help ensure this great industry stays relevant.”
The initial cost to join SPO is £1000 (to establish the organisation, which can be redeemed in future) and an annual membership fee of £29/ha, based on the area of seed grown.