The humble spud
Thursday, 21 May 2009
The world’s number one non-grain food commodity, with production reaching a record 320 million tonnes in 2007, the potato is an integral part of the global food system.
Due to the ease of cultivation and high energy content, the potato is valuable cash crop for millions of farmers in developing countries, which now account for more than half of the global harvest.
Unlike major cereals, the potato is not traded as a commodity on the global market with only a fraction of total production entering foreign trade.
Prices are generally determined by local production costs rather than the state of international markets. This makes potatoes a highly recommended food security crop that can help low-income farmers and vulnerable consumers ride out the current turmoil in world food supply and demand.
In China, the world’s biggest potato producer, agriculture experts have proposed potato become the major food crop on much of the country’s arable land.
Over the next two decades, the world’s population is expected to grow on average by more than 100 million people a year. More than 95 percent of that increase will occur in the developing countries, where pressure on land and water is already intense. Ensuring food security for present and future generations, while protecting the natural resource base will be a priority for the international community and the humble potato will be an important part of efforts to meet the challenges involved.