The potato portal – new buyer and grower ‘match-making’ website live

AHDB Potatoes has now launched:

The potato portal – new buyer and grower ‘match-making’ website live

You can find information about the portal at where you can find a link to access the portal. BPTA is aware that while some members will welcome this initiative others are less enthusiastic about it.  Whatever your view it is incumbent for BPTA to make known its existence to its membership.

Global Potato Conclave 2020 Roadmap to a better World – report by Claire Hodge

In January 2020 India hosted the Global Potato Conclave, an opportunity to consider India’s position in a global potato industry and how a nation will write a roadmap to a better world. The notion that potatoes could make the world even better seems like a grand target, or perhaps impossible from a UK perspective.

Take a step back from potatoes in India to understand why it’s critical and not whimsical, that India must consider crops such as potatoes as an opportunity to change the world. India has a population of almost 1.4 Billion and quickly rising with India’s per capita income (nominal) was $1670 per year in 2016, ranked at 112th out of 164 countries by the World Bank, this is a very low starting point however with healthy year on year growth (pre pandemic).  43 % of the population are relying on agriculture for income and this provides huge opportunity to turn to the potential of the potato crop to produce a nutritious and environmentally sustainable food that generates good financial returns.

The Prime Minster of Mali opened the Global Potato Conclave underlining the ambitious targets the government is setting out set for the agricultural sector. They aim to double farmers income by exporting to their Asian neighbours as key to this increase. In order to achieve this standards need raising and effective supply chains will need to be bettered structured.

With land and labour in abundance, if India is managed effectively it can could see a decrease in poverty for many rural communities. Innovation is going to be critical, working with global partners and in some cases leapfrogging technologies that are standard in established western systems, which will come with risk but huge opportunity for reward.

The domestic consumption of potatoes in India is very low at 24kg per person per year. Particularly when compared to the 100kg per person per year in the UK. Traditionally India has been sustained by rice and cereal production, however this varies across regions with some areas historically being quite reliant on potato crops. There are multiple factors which makes the potato a promising opportunity with advantages in nutrition, environmental, economic and social trends.

There is a strong appetite for innovation an ideal not only for local businesses in India but the wider world is also watching and in many cases supporting development. When much of production is at grass roots stage there is a sense of ambition and opportunity to try some radical approaches. Access to digital tools and resource in digital modelling and programming is affordable and in many cases local. There are many programmes being implemented for pest and disease modelling. With data captured at a crop level often using a combination of smartphone technology and satellite imagery to then develop crop management tools using machine learning, however there is a race to market and like in many counties this does create a fragmented delivery. For success scale and farmer education will need to be at the core and you will often find this connected to government and academic institutes but that still need commerciality. Demonstrating an increase in on farm returns through increased yields or stable supply chain prices will be the ultimate measure of success.

Opportunities to try different things, no till potatoes! At the conference I met with the researchers at CIP who were working with farmers to grow potatoes using rice paddy and harvesting above ground. The purpose may have been borne from a different challenge as they were looking at how to increase production across the country in areas where land is just not suitable to root cropping systems. The challenge here in Europe is from a more environmental, soil degradation stand point and PCN control, however the learnings are the same. They based the principles on what resources they had and what would they need to redevelop and what will they need to understand better to grow potatoes without soil disruption. They were achieving good yields and amazing skin finish, but finding varieties was the next phase to progress.

Potato breeding and variety development seems to be the biggest barrier to progress I could see and there is clear frustration as debates were had about interpretation of policies which are a barrier to new varieties coming into the market. Farmers are predominantly growing traditional varieties, which are low yielding and susceptible to many pest and disease pressures. There is also lack of access to certified seed and wide spread seed piracy. The breeding programmes are controlled by the government and research organisations with some movement on international varieties getting through the system. This can change but it will take time and investment from exporting countries in building relationships as the dynamics of the potato industry progress, investment in processing plants and secure supply chain structures are likely to be the driving factor.

 The potato market in India offers great opportunity but with opportunity comes risk and there remains many social barriers. The people I met at the Global Potato Conclave have a global perspective and strive to establish international networks with other potato trading nations. Change is happening fast as they take action, building a roadmap to a better world.

My time in India was part of my Nuffield Scholarship and funded by the BPTA, BPGA and Strathmore potatoes. This will be part of my final Nuffield report on the connectivity in the global seed potato supply chain. I am very grateful to the UK potato industry in supporting my study and helping me develop ideas to consider the future of the potato industry.

*figures World Bank

BPTA Bursary

BPTA Council, at its meeting in Perth on 20th February 2020, reconfirmed its intention to set aside annually in its budget a sum of money to provide the opportunity to award a discretionary grant to individuals who pursue an educational goal which when shared with others will be for the betterment of the potato industry. Further details are contained in the box below.

Recognition of Vincent Lumb’s long service on Council

Vincent Lumb of Pan European Potato Enterprise Ltd receives a token of appreciation from BPTA President, Paul Wood in recognition of his long service on BPTA and before that on SPTA Council.

Vincent served for over a quarter of a century in aggregate during which time he served as President of SPTA between 2002-2004 and most recently led BPTA’s Export Committee

Cuprokylt (Copper oxychloride)

AHDB Potatoes has informed BPTA that the following emergency authorisation will be issued on 15th May of the use of Cuprokylt (Copper oxychloride) to control blight in potatoes for a period of 120 days. This will be welcomed by the organic sector and has been gained with the approval of the Soil Association.

It is expected that the formal authorisation will be released on 15th May 2017. Without being in possession of this authorisation the pesticide must not be applied.

Please note:
• This emergency authorisation does not take effect until 15th May.
• It lasts for 120 days and therefore expires on 12th September.
• When applying this product under the terms of this Emergency Authorisation, comply with any resistance guidance or restrictions stated on the product label.
• Neither the efficacy nor the phytotoxicity of the product for which this authorisation has been granted has been assessed and, as such, the user bears in mind the risk in respect of failures concerning its efficacy or phytotoxicity.

BPTA Council Election 2016

At the BPTA AGM on 6th July outgoing President Russ Kelsey announced the result of the BPTA Council Election 2016.

There were 3 vacancies on Council. The vacancies arose from the normal retiral of Graham Bennett, Jim McCreight and Andrew Skea.

Two nominations for Council were received from the membership which meant that for the second consecutive year but only the second time in the history of BPTA there was the need for an election. Ballot papers were issued to the membership and 39 were returned by deadline of 6pm on 27th June 2016 representing an turnout of 36% of the electoral roll. The following is the result of the ballot:

McGOWAN Sandy              34 votes       Elected

SKEA Andrew                    23 votes       Re-elected

CLIFFE Angela                   22 votes       Elected

BENNETT Graham             21 votes       Not elected

McCREIGHT Jim                  7 votes       Not elected

Sandy McGowan (Grampian Growers Ltd) and Angela Cliffe (Branston Ltd)  have therefore joined Council.

Sandy McGowan - croppedAngela Cliffe

and Andrew Skea has been re-elected


Graham Bennett and Jim McCreight step down from Council and were thanked for their service.

Graeme Prentice takes office as BPTA President

Presidential handshake with Graeme Prentice and Russ Kelsey

Graeme Prentice (left) is congratulated on becoming the 6th President of the British Potato Trade Association by Russ Kelsey who becomes the BPTA’s immediate Past President. The handshake took place at Ibbotsons, Tadcaster where the Association held its 10th AGM on 6th July 2016.

Paul Wood replaces Graeme as Vice-President



and Jonathon Rooke was installed as Deputy Vice-President.

Jon Rooke


The BPTA AGM 2015 was held at SASA, Edinburgh on 1st July 2015 with 10 member companies in attendance and another 10 member companies voting by proxy. President Russ Kelsey welcomed Miriam Doe (WCF Horticulture Ltd) onto Council and paid tribute to Tony Barnes who has stepped down. The AGM approved all 3 motions – to accept the 2014-15 accounts; to re-appoint Henderson Loggie as the Association’s accountants and to maintain 2015-16 membership subscriptions at 2014-15 levels..

Russ Kelsey delivered his address to the AGM and a copy can be accessed by following the link below. Following the AGM John Speirs of the Scottish Government delivered a presentation on Plant Health. A copy of this presentation will be posted on the BPTA website shortly.

President’s AGM Report July 2015

President Russ Kelsey addresses AGM 2015 with Deputy Vice President Paul Wood BPTA members attending AGM 2015 John Speirs (Scottish Government) delivers his Plant Health presentation at BPTA AGM 2015

Epitrix Update

The UK Plant Health Services have issued a letter updating the position with findings of Epitrix on potatoes imported from previously non-demarcated areas of Spain. The letter and accompanying leaflet are reproduced below.

Epitrix is a very damaging pest of potato from North America that is now established in Spain and Portugal and imported potatoes from these countries represents a real and present threat to the UK potato industry. The threat posed by this pest and measures that are being taken and possibly proposed in the future should be of grave interest to all those who make a living from potatoes in this country. Please take time to consider this matter.Epitrix

Defra ltr re Epitrix 040615

Epitrix pest alert 4 – June 2015

Award of the Haigh Trophy 2014: Bob Doig

The Haigh Trophy has been awarded to Bob Doig. The presentation was made by Russ Kelsey, BPTA President to Rob Doig (Bob’s son) at a dinner in Dundee on 14th November 2014. Bob was unable to attend in person due to his wife being taken ill.

CitationPresident Russ Kelsey presents the Haigh Trophy awarded to Bob Doig to his son Rob Doig 2014

Robert (Bob) Doig has been involved and pro-active in the potato industry spanning 6 decades. He is renowned for promoting a sustainable, people based potato industry that is grown by forging lasting relationships with both suppliers and customers at every level. He has impacted on the potato industry at every level from breeding and variety development as a member of the Caithness group of companies, through the championing of Scottish seed potatoes to liaison with multiple retailers. On a political level he was instrumental in advocating the move from the former Potato Marketing Board towards a body much more suited to today’s industry. As such he has had considerable influence on the industry as we know it today. He served on the Council of the Scottish Potato Trade Association and served as its President during 1991-94. He still plays an active role in the business  he founded (Robert Doig Ltd) along with his wife, Zella, who bred a number of the varieties currently being marketed by Caithness, and his son Robert, who manages the business today.

Haigh Trophy Certificate Doig 2014

The Haigh Trophy

The Haigh Trophy The Haigh Trophy was gifted to the National Association of Seed Potato Merchants by C M Haigh who was President of NASPM 1947-48 with the intention that it be presented annually to that person who shall be adjudged to have rendered outstanding meritorious service to the seed potato trade in general and to the Association in particular.

 Previous winners of the Haigh Trophy:

1949       C W Higgs
1950       Martin A F Sutton
1952       Mrs N McDermott MBE, MSc
1953       A Manton Baxter
1954       John Clarke MBE, MAgr
1955       Redcliffe N Salaman MD, FRS
1957       John Bankhead
1958       Thomas P McIntosh OBE, BSc (Agr)
1959       John Marshall CBE
1961       E F Sherriff
1962       R W Wallace OBE
1965       C M Haigh
1968       A J Haggart
1969       M F Strickland
1972       J C Cullen MSc
1973       Sir James Denby Roberts Bt
1974       D H Smith OBE
1975       Dr H W Howard OBE, BA, PhD, ScD
1976       Dr T L Hardie BSc, (Agr) PhD, FRAgS
1977       Prof J M Hirst DSC, PhD, FRS
1980       G B Darby
1985       H N Aves OBE
1986       F T Trahair MBE
1988       R J Beeson
1989       F W Seymour
1990       C J Baker
1992       K F Burke
1993       T D Hall BSc (Agric) Hons
1994       Dr G A Hide BSc, MSc, PhD, DSc
1996       Jack Dunnett PhD, FRAcS
1999       T J Dixon
2001       P E Smith
2003       I Stirling
2004       Eric Allen
2005       Stuart Wale
2007       Hugh B Edmond MBE
2012       Archie Pullar
2014       Bob Doig
2016       John Marshall
2017       Mike Cosford



The Haigh Trophy engraving

BPTA Tuber Training Course 2014

BPTA in association with SASA is running a Tuber Classification Training Refresher Course on Tuesday 4th November 2014 at Gogarbank, Edinburgh. The delegate fee including lunch, refreshments and Vat is £240. If you are interested please contact the BPTA Secretariat at 0131 623 0183. Further details and an application form can be found in the links below.

BPTA Tuber Training Course 2014 membership letter – 021014

BPTA Tuber Training Course 2014 Provisional Course Programme 2014 (Tuber)

BPTA Tuber Training Course 2014 Application Form

SASA Headquarters

BPTA AGM 2014 – Short Report

BPTA AGM Brief Report

The 8th Annual General meeting of the Association took place on 1st July 2014 at Boston West Golf Club, Hubbert’s Bridge, Boston, Lincolnshire. There were 16 attendees representing 15 member companies and therefore the required quorum of 14 was achieved.The meeting heard Andrew Skea deliver his second and final Report of Council – a copy of which can be found in the ‘members-only’ area of the website. A motion to adopt the Association’s Accounts for the year to 31st March 2014 was proposed by Gerard Croft, seconded by Colin Herron and approved by the meeting. Andrew Skea also proposed that Henderson Loggie should be appointed as the Association’s accountants for the year to 31st March 2015. This motion was seconded by Tony Barnes and approved by the meeting. Andrew Skea introduced the Association’s Budget for 2014-2015 and explained a proposal to introduce a new lower bandwidth of 0-500 tonnes of seed potatoes for the calculation of membership subscriptions provided that the qualifying member did not trade more than 2,000 tonnes of ware potatoes. A 3% increase in BPTA membership subscriptions across the board was also proposed to match inflation and to create a reserve equivalent to one year’s trading.The motion was proposed by Tony Barnes, seconded by Paul Wood and carried by the meeting.The 5 Council members who were required to retire all offered themselves for re-election and there was one new nomination received from the membership. As there was also a resignation all 6 nominations were accepted without the need for an election. John Addams-Williams, Nigel Allam, Tony Barnes, Gerard Croft and Paul Wood will remain on Council and will be joined by Jonathon Rooke of HZPC UK Ltd who will fill the vacancy created by Philip Burgess’ resignation following his appointment with the Potato Council. Lastly, Andrew Skea installed  Russ Kelsey as the 5th President of the Association. Graeme Prentice  becomes Vice President and Paul Wood the Deputy Vice President. Russ thanked Andrew for his Presidency and closed the meeting by inviting Caroline Evans, Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs at the Potato Council to speak to the meeting. A formal minute of the AGM will be sent to members shortly.

Andrew Skea congratulates Russ Kelsey on his elevation to the BPTA Presidency Office bearers BPTA members listen to the President's Report

BPTA Office closed until 8.30am on Thursday 3rd July 2014

The BPTA Secretary is travelling today to Boston, Lincolnshire prior to attending BPTA Council meeting and BPTA AGM tomorrow. Therefore the BPTA office is now closed until 8.30am on Thursday 3rd July 2014. I shall have intermittent access to email during this period. If your business is urgent please call 07518 404330 and if necessary leave a message.

BPTA Logo 1

The Scottish Society for Crop Research Potato Winter Meeting: 24 March 2014


The Scottish Society for Crop Research (SSCR) Potato Sub-committee is pleased to invite you to attend the Potato Winter Meeting at The James Hutton Institute, Dundee DD2 5DA on Monday 24 March 2014.

The programme can be found by following the link below.

Please note that this meeting is free for SSCR members but there is a £15 attendance fee for non-members. Membership of SSCR costs £15 a year and there will be the opportunity to join at the meeting.

Attendees are requested to pre-register.

Please confirm your attendance to: Sharon Neilson, Events Co-ordinator, The James Hutton Institute, Dundee DD2 5DA Tel: 01382 568 750 Email: BASIS points have been applied for and will be available to attendees on the day


Europatat Congress 2014 – Sponsorship opportunity


The Europatat Congress will take place in Brussels on 22-23 May 2014.

Europatat is about to open the sponsorship opportunities to non-members. 2 of the 4 sponsor places have already been taken up!

The congress website has been finalised and on-line registration is now possible. The public announcement will take place next week, provided the majority of key note speakers have confirmed. Make sure you benefit from this opportunity and enjoy the visibility of our communications during the FruitLogistica trade fair!

The document below provides further information on the 2 attractive packages which have been established with a discount for direct members.

Europatat Congress 2014 – Sponsorship opportunity


Kevin F Burke

Kevin F Burke

Kevin Burke who died on July 8th was born in Sandymount, Dublin, in July 1925. He was educated at Blackrock College up to his leaving Certificate. He then attended University College Dublin where he studied Commerce. While studying at UCD some of his contemporaries were ex-Taoisigh (Prime Ministers) Garret Fitzgerald and Charlie Haughey and he retained a close friendship with Garret up to his death in 2011.While at UCD, he was a regular debater at the Literary and Historical Debating Society and eventually was elected auditor of that Society. It is fairly certain that his negotiating skills and his wide command and usage of the English language were honed by the cut and thrust of debates at the L&H. On leaving UCD Kevin joined the accountancy firm Finlay Mulligan, who administered the exports of seed potatoes from Ireland for the Irish Potato Merchants Association (IPMA). Kevin assisted in that work and for the rest of his working life up to his retirement in 1990, he was directly involved in the export of seed potatoes from Ireland. Seed potatoes had been exported from Ireland from the mid 1920’s.In 1931, the Irish Department of Agriculture introduced legislation bringing a quality control regime to the production and export of seed potatoes including the licensing of potato exporters. At the time, the exports were mainly to the UK. These exports were promoted by Horace Aves Potato Manager for F.W. Strickland of Hastings, whose two sons, Harold and Bernard, were also involved in seed potatoes. Harold became managing Director of Cullen Allen of Belfast and Bernard became MD of Strickland Potatoes of Hastings. Bernard is still with us at the ripe old age of 90. RW Green of Wistech, Johnson and J&J Cunningham of Liverpool also were traders in Irish seed Potatoes.When World War II ended in 1945, trade in seed potatoes began to open up and prices were quite high. For this reason, the Association (IPMA) retained some of the price received in a fund to be paid out in years of low prices.  With a change of Government in 1948 the new Minister for Agriculture, James Dillon, was anxious that this system should continue. In February 1950 The Irish Potato Marketing Company was established. The Minister gave the new company an administrative monopoly of the export of seed potatoes and he nominated 2 of his staff to the board. Denis Delaney (DD) became the first General Manager, Edward McGovern the first Chairman and Kevin Burke became Denis Delaney’s assistant. Kevin and Denis were very conscious of supporting the Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture in maintaining and improving the health status of Irish Seed. In 1955 they persuaded Dr. McKay, Professor of Plant Pathology at UCD, to publish the book “Diseases of Potatoes” funded by IPM.From 1950 onwards, Kevin and Denis promoted Irish seed successfully in the UK and Mediterranean area. Denis stepped down in 1963 and Kevin became General Manager. He then appointed a Marketing Manager and the exports continued to expand up to its peak in 1970. In the earlier years the main varieties exported were Arran Banner, Arran Consul, King Edward, Majestic, Upto Dale, Arran Pilot, Home Guard and others. From the mid-sixties on, new higher yielding varieties began to appear from breeding stations in Europe, Pentland Fields and Cambridge. These varieties e.g. Desiree, Spunta, Nicola, Pentland Crown and Maris Peer began to replace existing varieties. So that IPM could have new varieties an agreement was reached between Kevin Burke and Oakpark Research Centre, Co Carlow (P.J. O’Hare – Director, Harry Kehoe – Breeder) whereby IPM underpinned the cost of the breeding programme and had exclusivity of varieties from the programme. The first of these varieties was the very successful Cara followed later by Rooster among others.The trade association for the English seed potato merchants was ‘The National Association of Seed Potato Merchants’ (NASPM). Kevin for many years was elected to its council. He was elected president of NASPM for the period 1980-1983 and again in 1997-98. He was honoured with life membership of both NASPM and BPTA. He was highly respected within the organisation and within Council because of his meticulous attention to detail in dealing with the work of the council. He enjoyed the Annual Dinners in London and relished the company of many ex-Presidents, Leslie Baker, Charlie Burnett, Manton Baxter, Michael Strickland, John Langlands, Robert Beeson, Christopher Baker et al and of course the inimitable secretary Freddie Tranair and David Fradd. Kevin was held in high regard by the importers in Mediterranean countries. He was a commanding figure and was seen to be totally fair minded. When Ireland joined the E.E.C., the European seed potato merchants formed an association (Europatat) and Kevin was elected as one of its Vice-Presidents.

Gregory was born. He later married his beloved Helen Binchy from Charleville, Co. Cork, with whom he had two children, Katie and Sara. Helen was a distinguished member of the Academic staff of UCD. She was a first cousin of Maeve Binchy, the internationally renowned novelist who has regrettably also died recently. Kevin was a man of commanding presence. He liked goodBecause of the expansion of contacts with Europe and the need to have a representative body in Ireland, Kevin was the prime mover in establishing the Irish Potato Federation and was its chairman for many years, even after his retirement from IPM.

Kevin retired as General Manager of IPM in 1990 after 42 years in the potato trade. During his life he was always dedicated to his work and in his retirement he remained busy. He was an ardent follower of the sport of Kings and attended many of the race meetings in Ireland. In his college days he and others, including Garret Fitzgerald, had formed a wine tasting club. He became expert on the different wines and grape varieties and often enjoyed consuming the product.

Kevin was very devoted to his family. Kevin’s first wife Louise Rickard died when their son Gregory was born. He later married his beloved Helen Binchy from Charleville, Co. Cork, with whom he had two children, Katie and Sara. Helen was a distinguished member of the Academic staff of UCD. She was a first cousin of Maeve Binchy, the internationally renowned novelist who has regrettably also died recently. Kevin was a man of commanding presence. He liked goodBecause of the expansion of contacts with Europe and the need to have a representative body in Ireland, Kevin was the prime mover in establishing the Irish Potato Federation and was its chairman for many years, even after his retirement from IPM.

food, good wine and good conversation. Above all, he will be remembered for his total hone food, good wine and good conversation. Above all, he will be remembered for his total honesty, his unwavering integrity and for his patience with staff and customers alike. At the age of 87, many of his contemporaries had shed their mortal coil but a sign of the esteem in which he was held was the large gathering at the removal of his remains and his subsequent funeral.

We offer our sincere sympathies to Helen, Gregory, Katie and Sara.

Peter O’Connor

Merger of Major players

British Potato Trade Association


The long planned merger of the major players in the GB seed potato trade has come to fruition with the National Association of Seed Potato Merchants and the Scottish Potato Trade Association uniting under the banner of the British Potato Trade Association (BPTA).BPTA represents all aspects of potato production and sales, at home and in the export market, and offers comprehensive seed trade representation. BPTA’s 120 members handle 250,000 – 300,000 tonnes seed annually – the bulk of seed potatoes traded in Great Britain for both home and export markets.Launching the new organisation, BPTA President, Dublin based John Bell of Irish Potato Marketing Ltd said, “The seed trade is now speaking with one voice. BPTA will have a new strength and influence in negotiations with government, British Potato Council, NFUs and other bodies. The arrival of BPTA on the scene is well timed, right now, when – with major plant health issues facing the whole GB industry and the current movement towards harmonisation of the Scottish and English & Welsh seed classification schemes – there is an increasing need for a strong GB-wide representation to government.”BPTA’s affiliation to Europatat will benefit member ware traders and seed exporters by offering access to RUCIP rules in their dealings with other member nations. Further advantage will come to the industry in having common, nationally accepted, Conditions of Sale and Purchase, dispute resolution arrangements and arbitration system.