GB Potatoes, a new voluntary organisation that is striving to unite the potato sector and pursue research, marketing and “horizon scanning” activities, is calling for everyone with an interest in the crop to sign up.
The initiative is being driven by a working group which includes Scottish producer Euan Grewar from Dundee and Agrico UK executive director, Archie Gibson.
It is the second organisation to be officially formed since the removal of the statutory AHDB levy, with a new Scottish seed growers co-operative established just last month.
GB Potatoes claims the removal of the statutory AHDB levy is an opportunity to do things differently and ensure the industry flourishes. However it also makes it clear that it intends to work closely with existing associations.
The organisation’s aims include promoting innovation, representing the interests of the industry to governments, identifying reputational threats and seeking to mitigate any damage,
The group states: “GB Potatoes will also act as a platform to bring together groups of businesses with common interests, whether they be areas of research, markets or anything else, and enable them to leverage funding to pursue those interests”.
The initial base subscription is expected to be £10 per hectare for growers and 10p per tonne for first purchasers, and the group is appealing on the industry to visit www.gb-potatoes.co.uk or email email@example.com to find out more.
However, the group makes it clear that it will be owned and controlled by its members and only those who have funded activity will derive any reward from it.
Lincolnshire grower Alex Godfrey said: “Paid-for research or data will not be made available to those who have not contributed.”
Mr Gibson said: “This will be an affordable way for growers and handlers of potatoes to safeguard the future of the industry and have access to more innovation opportunities”.
Mr Grewar added: “The industry is highly integrated and mutually dependent so having a strong voice covering the whole country is vital”.
Another of the group, independent consultant Mark Taylor, said: “GB Potatoes will be a lean and efficient umbrella body that can help to co-ordinate our industry when a joined up response is needed”.
The working group is looking for people to serve on the initial board and other stakeholders who do not handle potatoes will be welcomed as associate members.