Within a century of its introduction to the Netherlands, in the 1600s, the potato had become one of the country'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 Dutch still plant almost 25 percent of their arable land - some 160 000 ha - with aardappel, and have achieved world record average yields level of more than 45 tonnes per hectare. The potato sector is highly mechanized and draws on a list of some 250 approved varieties.
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. (Source: International Year of the Potato)