China - Netherlands cooperation on improvement of China potato production

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Raising China potato production is of utmost importance. In the coming years a great effort is to be made to meet the increasing demand of potatoes for fresh consumption and for industry. In a joined R&D program Chinese and Dutch research institutes and companies investigated opportunities for improvement on the main topics of potato production. ‘Progress Report China Potato GAP project’ describes the mid-term results of the R&D program of the PPS Potato GAP China.

Globally, potato is one of the top five of most important food crops. It provides billions of people with a healthy (staple) food source. China is the biggest producer of potatoes in the world, with 70 to 80 million tonnes per year in recent years, grown on about 5 million hectares. The Netherlands only ranks number 10, with a volume of around 8 million tonnes per year grown on about 175.000 ha. Where the average production per ha in China is around 20 tonnes per ha, it is in The Netherlands over 45 tonnes per ha. China can increase her potato production by introducing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and quality control and extension systems as applied in The Netherlands.

The Netherlands has developed many relevant technologies and decision support systems for sustainable crop protection during the past 30 years. China is interested to introduce these methods in her agricultural system, to improve yields, financial results and sustainability and to meet international GAP-standards.

Initiated in 2008 by the Chinese and Dutch Ministries of Agriculture a Sino-Dutch R&D program was developed in which several Chinese and Dutch research institutes and companies are participating. The consortium focusses on at least five topics:

  1. Seed potato quality, breeding technology, production and certification.
  2. Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for potato cultivation, with a focus on late blight 
  3. control.Machinery, equipment and harvesting technology.
  4. Storage technology.
  5. Demonstration & know how transfer.

Most of the studies were done in Heilongjiang province (north east China). Heilongjiang is an important potato producing province with an annual potato production of about 8 million tonnes, comparable to the total annual potato production of the Netherlands.

Late blight control in China

Results so far indicate that great improvements can be made by raising the awareness of the importance of good seed quality and good seed bed preparation in combination with a more effective seed potato quality monitoring and certification system. Late blight control in China has been improved through the introduction of monitoring system and a nation-wide decision support system. However, when looking at the efficacy trials, the decision support system requires improvement to be able to deliver effective advices to farmers to better protect their potato crops against late blight disease. Also, farmers have to comply with the recommendations of the advisory system and should be able to employ good technology and good fungicides. Upgraded storage methods will contribute to better quality of potatoes and reduce losses.

Tailor-made dissemination strategies

In the project many communication activities took place. However, more efforts are needed to disseminate GAP knowledge to the end users in China. A good way to do this, is to develop tailor-made dissemination strategies per province or region in China to match relevant Chinese cultural and socio-economic conditions. It is to be expected that China’s potato production will grow through the introduction of new technologies, better varieties, sustainable methods and more effective knowledge dissemination.

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