Thailand readies for more U.S. potatoes
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday said seed potato producers from 10 new states are now eligible to ship their potatoes to Thailand.
The newly eligible states are Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In 2009, Thailand said it would accept seed potatoes from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
“This is a promising development for U.S. seed potato producers who will now be able to compete in Thailand, the largest potato growing country in Southeast Asia,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a statement.
“Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing markets for U.S. agricultural products, and exports there are expected to grow by more than 25 percent this year,' he added. 'This action by the government of Thailand will provide buyers with additional supplies of high-quality seed potatoes.”
The United States exported more than $10 million in seed potatoes worldwide in 2010. Initial estimates from USDA are that sales of U.S. seed potatoes to Thailand may reach $500,000 during the first year, with potential for additional growth.
The USDA noted that Thailand imported nearly $5 million of seed potatoes in 2010, largely from the United Kingdom and Canada. Seed potatoes are produced to be used for planting new crops of potatoes and, once planted, grow into tablestock potatoes.
The market opening for U.S. seed potatoes in Thailand follows months of negotiations between Thailand and USDA officials, including a visit by Thai plant health officials to New York, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Maine, and a review of U.S. seed certification procedures, seed cultivation practices, and phytosanitary mitigation measures.