Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, announced that his Department will provide funding of €450,000 to a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) project supporting seed potatoes farming in Ukraine.
The project will involve the transport of 500 tonnes of certified seed potatoes to Ukraine. FAO Ukraine will distribute these seed potatoes (50 kg per farmer) to 10,000 highly vulnerable small-holder farmers in rural areas at the frontline of the illegal Russian aggression in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Announcing the funding support, Minister McConalogue stated, “Ireland and Ukraine share many similarities particularly the huge importance of agriculture has both economical and socially. I am delighted that my Department’s international cooperation funding can support this project to support small-holder farmers in potato production, complementing the supports for smallholder poultry production in Ukraine funded by the Government and my Department last year.”
The seed potatoes have been grown in the Netherlands and France by growers for Irish company IPM Potato Ltd. Noting that the seed potato varieties have been cultivated especially for agro-ecological conditions in Ukraine, the Minister added, “in addition to saving 10% of the harvest as seed potatoes for the next season, this volume of quality seed potatoes has the potential to produce up to 7,000 tonnes of ware potatoes. This will yield the average annual consumption of potatoes for 45,000 – 50,000 people per year. This FAO project will support efforts to build back agricultural capacity and to assist rural families to resume production for their own household consumption and, in doing so, to meet their immediate food needs.”
Ukraine is the among the top five potato producers in the world and the bulk of its production is small-holder farmer based. Since the outbreak of war, the normal structures of seed potato supply in Ukraine have been broken and the imports of certified seed input stocks has been severely hampered.