World Potato Congress speaker Anton Haverkort outlines key developments for 2012
January 27, 2012
This year’s World Potato Congress, to be held in Edinburgh in May and organised by Potato Council, has attracted a remarkable line-up of international speakers including Dr Anton Haverkort of Netherlands-based Plant Research International.
Around the world companies are putting more emphasis on sustainability and the drive will continue during 2012, with developed markets like Europe paving the way, says Dr Haverkort.
“The global population is set to peak at 9bn by mid-century. The diet of that population is also changing to include more meat and the need for land, water and energy will rise steeply.
“This, together with adverse effects of climate change in some areas may mean the footprints of land, water and energy may become too large to sustain food production in the long run.”
Buyers will continue to reduce the footprints they expect their suppliers to operate within, Dr Haverkort believes. “Sustainability is a movement, a continuous change. The current situation is defined by an indicator and its values – when it becomes the norm for most producers, the limits may be tightened and the shift goes on.”
To help growers meet changing carbon targets, Unilever initiated a project at Aberdeen University to produce the Cool Farm Tool. This spreadsheet programme allows growers to calculate easily how much carbon dioxide (CO2) it costs to produce a crop. PepsiCo and McCain funded the potato-specific part, which Dr Haverkort completed.
“CO2 costs per tonne of potato vary between 70 and 300kg, mainly depending on yield, nitrogen fertilisation and irrigation. Such footprints increasingly will become part of the information required by buyers - their companies want to know these values to reduce future footprints.
Anton will present the Cool Farm Tool at World Potato Congress and discuss how carbon accounting can help growers meet the sustainability challenge.
For more information and to register go to www.wpc2012.net