Cuba to purchase seed potatoes from N.D. farmers
In a modest but unprecedented deal, Cuba has agreed to buy 100 tons of seed potatoes from North Dakota producers, the state's agriculture commissioner said.
'It's a very small amount — only about $15,000 worth — but it is significant in testing the waters,' said Riger Johnson, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner, according to an Associated Press report.
Cuba has not purchased seed potatoes from U.S. sources in decades. But Johnson believes there is a potentially strong market for U.S. potatoes because it costs less to ship seed potatoes from the United States than from Europe. Cuba imports about 40,000 tons of seed potatoes a year from Canada and Holland, the report noted.
Two Cuban agriculture inspectors toured North Dakota's Red River Valley area last July, and will return in the fall when the potatoes are ready to ship. The seed potatoes should be ready for planting in Cuba this November.
Gene Maatz, president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, said North Dakota produces high quality seed potatoes, and farmers regularly shipped seed potatoes to Cuba throughout the 1940s.