A CALL by British potato and fruit growers for political certainty was made at this year’s biggest growers’ event, Fruit Logistica, which was held recently in Germany.

The British delegation to the event, led by AHDB, said it was keen to work with European businesses post-Brexit, but their main concern was about free-flowing exports after the ‘deal’.

It is an important area for UK agriculture in both production terms and as producers of seed, pointed out the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) which attended the event, which has more than 3000 exhibitors.

Archie Gibson, of Agrico UK, who deals in high quality seed potatoes with customers and growers worldwide, said on the AHDB stand: “One of the most immediate challenges we all face is the uncertainty around ability to export into European countries and North African countries where we have arrangements under European Union rules and regulations.

“We’ll be looking for UK industry and officials to have permission to arrange bilateral agreements with these countries. Egypt, Israel, Morocco, the Canary Islands and so on. At the moment, Defra is saying everything can come into the UK but the same is not true in reverse. We need to see some movement on that,” he added.

“My attendance at different meetings in Berlin, convinces me that industry wants solutions and we do not want the frustration of politics getting in the way of free movement of goods.”

British seed growers remain confident that their seed can still compete at the highest levels post-Brexit, as Sandy McGowan, from Cygnet PB, pointed out: “Customers choose British seed potatoes for various reasons. Number one would be the quality we can produce here in the UK. We’re an island nation, we produce most of our seed potatoes for export in the north of Scotland so that means our disease pressure is lower, our bacteria issues are less and we have expert knowledge and logistics for our Scottish and English growers to call on.”

With Brexit in mind, AHDB’s export team is working to maintain seed export flows this year with a renewed focus on existing markets. “Countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Israel are some of the largest importers of British seed potatoes,” said Rob Burns, AHDB’s head of crop trade market development.

“AHDB, along with Scottish Government and industry, have to ensure the high health and quality of GB seed is appreciated by government and plant health officials so that we continue to be their favoured supplier. This year we will be hosting delegations from countries like Egypt, so they can see the crop in the field, visit SASA, and get an in depth understanding of our industry’s commitment to quality.”