The Dutch way of growing potatoes
Uganda grows Irish potatoes, however, the country does not feature among the top producers in the world. ...
By Joshua Kato
Uganda grows Irish potatoes (Obumonde), however, the country does not feature among the top producers in the world.
The Dutch, on the other hand, irrespective of their country`s small size, are among the leading producers of potatoes in the world.
Within a century of its introduction to the Netherlands, in the 1600s, the potato had become one of the European nation’s most important food crops.
Today, the Netherlands ranks among the world's top 10 potato producers, with a harvest in 2007 of 7.2 million tonnes.
While potato production is declining in most of Europe, the Netherlands still plants almost 25 percent of their arable land - some 160 000 hectares - with aardappel, and have achieved world record average yields level of more than 45 tonnes per hectare.
Equipment used in growing potatoes in the Netherlands. (Photo credit: Joshua Kato)
In Uganda, the average yield per hectare is five tonnes!
The difference lies in the farm preparation and the planted seeds.
The potato sector is highly mechanized and draws on a list of some 250 approved varieties. Comparatively, most of Uganda`s Irish potato sector is still manual, hence the low production.
Only half of the Netherlands' potato crop is grown directly for food – around 20 percent is seed potatoes, and the remaining 30 percent is processed for starch.
About 70 percent of Dutch ware potatoes is exported in the form of fresh tubers and potato products, such as chips and flour.
The Netherlands is the world's major supplier of certified seed potatoes, with exports of some 700 000 tonnes a year.
Last year, according to Josephat Byaruhanga who is in charge of agriculture development at the Dutch embassy, Uganda imported 23 new potato seed varieties from Holland.
“They are currently undergoing testing in Uganda and if all goes well, they should be on the market soon,” he said.