The 2022 potato harvest promises to be “catastrophic”, down “at least 20% compared to the average of the last twenty years”, a consequence of the historic drought which has hit France, producers announced on Friday. . The National Union of Potato Producers (UNPT), which fears “the worst harvest recorded since 2000”, figures at “more than 200 million euros” the losses for producers according to its first estimates, while the harvest. The UNPT is asking for “an emergency meeting” with the Minister of Agriculture, to initiate the first aid measures now “which will allow France to maintain its rank as the world’s leading exporter of potatoes”.
Eight million tonnes of potatoes in 2021
In 2021, France produced around eight million tonnes of potatoes, for a turnover of nearly four billion euros in a sector which generates a trade surplus of more than 500 million euros. Producers estimate losses at 1.5 million tonnes, with average yield losses of 20% but which could go up to more than 30% or even 50% locally for non-irrigated potatoes, due to “heat extremes correlated with severe drought, which literally stopped the development of the tubers”.
“On my farm, near Compiègne (Oise), where I have no irrigation system, the impact is very strong: it’s 50% less production,” Geoffroy told AFP. ‘Evry, the president of the UNPT.
Request for exceptional assistance
To guarantee the economic sustainability of farms and ensure plantations for 2023/2024, the UNPT “is now calling for the revaluation of prices paid to producers and a better distribution of added value, particularly with mass distribution, contract of the committed volumes not delivered by the producers (who see themselves inflicting penalties if the volumes delivered are lower than those committed, editor’s note) and to the rapid start of a reflection on the establishment of an aid system exceptional state”.
“The producers will not take sole responsibility for the exceptional losses caused by this extraordinary climatic episode”, warns the UNPT. “There will be a revaluation of prices, but to avoid it being too important for the consumer, there must be a better distribution in the value chain”, argues Geoffroy d’Evry, stressing that today, out of a kilogram of potato purchased in the supermarket, “20% goes to the producer and 50% to the distributor”.