Spud sellers unite in fight against blight

Retailers including Waitrose, Riverford and Abel and Cole have committed to selling disease resistant organic potatoes over more well-known varieties as part of a pledge to boost sustainability and resilience.

Coordinated by the Organic Growers Alliance, the ‘UK robust potato pledge 2021’ aims to unite supply chains in the organic potato sector in the fight against blight, a disease that can devastate entire potato crops.

Signatories, which also include Agrico, Sarpo, Skea Organics, RBOrganic, and Produce World, have agreed to favour organic potatoes that have been bred to be blight resistant over less resistant, albeit more well-known varieties.

The aim is for the organic potato sector to transition to 100% robust potato breeds over the next five years.

“Blight is a serious problem for all potato growers, but it can be particularly difficult for organic farmers as they don’t use chemical inputs to fight off the disease,” said the Soil Association’s Hugh Blogg, who led on securing commitments to the pledge on behalf of the Organic Growers Alliance.

“Innovative breeding programmes have had huge success at establishing varieties that are blight resistant, while still providing all the qualities that make potatoes a delicious choice for shoppers,” he added.

Blogg said he hoped the backing of key retailers would provide certified organic farmers with the confidence to grow lesser-known varieties, as well making it easier in future for other farmers to grow potatoes without using chemicals.

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