Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey is calling for a three-to-four year strategy to re-establish the potato industry in Ireland. He made the call as efforts continue at EU level to find a temporary solution to allow the movement of seed potatoes from the UK back into Ireland.
Markey, a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, said we need to prepare for a major increase in Irish seed potato production in the long-term:
“As is stands, we can go to another EU country to source potato seed but there are associated disease risks. Ireland meanwhile is the only EU state designated as having a ‘high health status’ for the growing of seed potatoes. We have a track record of producing high quality and clean potato seed – which has generated millions in exports in the past – so what are we waiting for? I believe a three-to-four year strategy is urgently needed to re-develop the seed industry in Ireland. We need to seize the opportunity and bring all stakeholders together to look at research, infrastructure and available land to make it a reality”, he commented.
The Midlands-North-West MEP said he would continue to make the case for a temporary derogation to reverse the ban on Scottish seed entering Ireland:
“I am well aware of the concerns raised by the potato industry about the impact of this ban and I have asked the European Commission to look at all options, including a potential derogation to allow the movement of seed potatoes from the UK back into Ireland for a limited period. In the meantime we have to think long-term and examine the potential to develop the sector once again through close collaboration with industry”, he concluded.