Minister McConalogue re-affirms his commitment to the Irish seed potato sector

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D. today held a constructive meeting with members of the IFA’s potato committee to examine how all players in the sector can help revive the domestic seed potato sector.

Following the meeting, the Minister said:

“I thank the IFA for the constructive meeting with me and my officials today. The seed potato sector is one that I am a strong supporter of. It is a sector with great potential, and I am committed to seeing it growing again and being restored to its heyday.”

As a result of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and following the end of the Brexit transition period on 1st January 2021, the import of seed potatoes from Britain into the EU is prohibited under EU Plant Health Regulations. These Regulations apply to all EU countries where it is illegal to import seed potatoes from Great Britain for propagation purposes. The meeting was informed that this position has been well flagged for years and the industry needs to adapt to the new reality.

Minister McConalogue said he is anxious to see a return of a domestic commercial seed potato sector and has urged all players in the industry to play their part:

“I will offer as much support as possible in developing the seed potato sector, however, further expansion of the seed area must be industry-led. This means a commitment by potato growers to those investing in seed production.”

Minister McConalogue also said he is looking at how his own Department can invest in the sector to help its further development.

“Both I and my Department actively support the seed potato sector through the operation of the Seed Certification Scheme and through the production of mini-tubers at the Tops Potato Centre in Raphoe, Co. Donegal. To ensure that the Tops Potato Centre can cater for future demand, my Department has recently invested significantly in facilities there.”

The Minister concluded,

“I think there is great potential for reviving the domestic seed sector and I would like to see everyone in the sector put their shoulders to the wheel to make this happen. I will stand behind the sector if there is a demand from the industry to make it happen.”