(Berlin) - In Germany, the cultivation of starch potatoes is one of the most important production segments within the potato sector. Although this year the area has once again decreased to only around 55,000 hectares country-wide, compared to the entire sector, the starch area still continues to represent more than one-fifth of the local potato market. "We still have faith in the future of the starch potato in Germany," said Gebhard Bakker, Chairman of the Bundesverbandes der Stärkekartoffelerzeuger e.V. (BVS) (producers' association for starch potatoes) on the occasion of a press conference on September 3 at the PotatoEurope 2014 in Bockerode near Springe in Lower Saxony. "Even though we feel that we have been let down by agricultural policy, we continue to fight on the side of the starch factories for our local production industry. Europe is the market leader in the global starch potato market and Germany is the market leader in Europe. And we want it to stay like that," stresses Bakker.
As co-exhibitor at the joint stand of the German potato industry under the umbrella of the Union der Deutschen Kartoffelwirtschaft e.V. (UNIKA) (Germany's potato industry organization) the BVS made use of the opportunity to promote the starch potato at the most important exhibition in Europe for potato professionals. "Above all for sites with light soil and few other cultivation alternatives, the starch potato is an important crop and source of income for farmers. The main qualitative focus of the factories is on healthy, clean goods with a high starch content, whereby the composition of the starch and the protein content is increasingly gaining in importance," says the Chairman. "However for us as farmers, it is not just the performance of the potato variety that is decisive but above all also its resistance properties. Especially in Germany the producers have a wide range of starch varieties available," emphasizes Bakker.
The BVS also took advantage of the opportunity in Bockerode to bring attention to the existing competitive disadvantages in the potato starch sector for the local industry. Whereas other EU countries that decoupled after the end of the starch market policy continue to pay out compensatory payments from the starch sector as a top up to active producers (e.g. in the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria), the German farmers have ended up empty handed. The starch subsidies in this country were redistributed and incorporated into the farm payments. In part the associated payments, i.e. those coupled with the starch potatoes production, are even being reinstated in the EU: (e.g. in France). On top of this come the country-specific subsidies in other areas of potato cultivation. "This represents significant liquidity advantages in the order of up to 800 euros per hectare and year and over a period of many years without which the Germans have had to cope. We therefore call on the government to make competition in the European potato sector equal as soon as possible," stressed Bakker.
The BVS also held its annual general meeting with board elections during this year's PotatoEurope on September 4, 2014. Gebhard Bakker of the Erzeuger-gemeinschaft Stärkekartoffeln im Emsland r.V. (producers' association for starch potatoes in Emsland) was unanimously elected as a member of the starch association board. The BVS delegates also elected Hermann Deuling (AVEBE-Bezirk Weser-Ems) as a member of the three-person committee; he was unanimously re-elected to the position. Albert BERG (Südstärke Kartoffel-liefergenossenschaft e.G.) was newly elected. He succeeds Dominikus Schlecht, who is stepping back after decades of active association work for reasons of age. From among its members, the new BVS committee ratified Gebhard Bakker as the former and new chairman.
Source and contact addresses
Bundesverband der Stärkekartoffelerzeuger e.V. (BVS), c/o Union der Deutschen Kartoffelwirtschaft e.V. (UNIKA)
Schumannstr. 5, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Telephone: (030) 657993-86, Fax: (030) 657993-85