The Council of Tenerife allocates 555,000 euros to the fight against the presence of the Guatemalan moth in local potato crops. Of this amount, 400,000 euros will go to direct aid and incentives to promote agroecological practices among producers on the Island that minimize the damage of a plague that prevents the export of this basic product of the Canarian diet out of the islands. This is one of the fundamental lines of the new strategic plan for the basic tuber in the diet of the people of Tenerife, which is endowed with 819,000 euros.
The insular president, Pedro Martín, accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Javier Parrilla, presented a plan that aims to promote the production and marketing of local potatoes before representatives of the subsector. Martín announces that “20 cents will be paid for each kilo of tuber with Guatemalan moth that is delivered to the Cabildo.”
Crop rotation. During the meeting, which was attended by the island’s agricultural centers and cooperatives, the Bonita Potato Association and more than fifteen producers, Peter Martin I announce these aids for agroecological practices that minimize the damage of the moth plague. The Cabildo will promote the practice of crop rotation and will finance the purchase of phytosanitary products included in integrated pest management, the release of natural enemies in plantations through a specialized company, and the removal of affected potatoes for disposal.
Potato harvest. Others are also planned 140,000 euros to reinforce the management of the affected potato harvest, “which will not only consist of placing containers in various municipalities, but also increasing the frequency of emptying and carrying out analysis and weighing of the affected potatoes,” explained Pedro Martín. The president also promised to study “a new line of support to cover part of the costs of fertilizers due to the escalation of prices” and to try to promote a complete renovation of the storage chambers to reduce production costs. “If we want to maintain this crop and generate economy on the Island, it is essential to sit down with the sector and collect their proposals to know where to improve and direct our efforts,” Pedro Martín asserted.
Commercialization. Regarding the marketing and production of potatoes, the person in charge of the primary sector, Javier Parrilla, announced that the Island Corporation will allocate an item of 264,000 euros. “It is essential that we continue working to position the Tenerife potato, highlighting its nutritional benefits and publicizing its multiple commercial varieties, because, in addition, we start from a very powerful seed bank.” The island councilor recalled that «in recent years the productivity per hectare of potatoes has increased, thanks, in large part, to the improvements in the irrigation systems that we have made, which have contributed to counteract the losses derived from the drought and the damages caused by the Guatemalan moth.” Parrilla added that “continuing to do the same thing is not going to give us different results; Hence, the new games and strategies with which we hope to achieve better results.
Cost calculation. The meeting also presented the preliminary summary of the calculation of potato production costs, prepared by the Rural Action group of Tenerife and the technical service of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Cabildo, “a commitment that we acquired with the agrarian organizations and that we have now made available for analysis and review”, explained Parrilla. The study analyzes the costs of white and colored or beautiful potatoes according to the geographical area (north and south of the Island) and the irrigation system used (conventional or organic). The objective of the initiative “is that this report becomes a basic document so that farmers have a reference price and do not sell at a loss,” added Parrilla.
Potato production in Tenerife is around 40 million kilos. The potato is the third most important crop after the vineyard and the banana. According to the 2021 crop map, in Tenerife there are 1,745 hectares cultivated with potatoes, 9.3 percent of the total planted area.
How to sell abroad again
One of the aspects that most worry the sector is the impossibility of selling the product abroad. Both the president and the counselor explained that the Cabildo continues to work to get the export of potatoes from Tenerife to be allowed again. “We have presented the multiple reports and studies that have been required of us,” explains Pedro Martín, but, he adds, “now they are demanding new ones from us and that is where we are at. We will continue to fight to export again in Spain and Europe.” That would mean “expanding the market and giving the sector greater stability.” In the coming weeks, regional meetings will be convened to follow these lines of action and disseminate the measures directly to producers.