During these trying times, something might just change. There could be a small step towards the general population not taking abundant food supplies for granted.

No one in their right mind wants anyone, anywhere to be short of food, but even a short period when supply is more difficult than usual might focus a few minds on just where their food comes from and how much they value it.

If the public now has to look critically at how farmers work day and night to put food on the nation’s tables, they might begin to realise just what it takes to grow local, healthy, nutritious and sustainable food. The humble potato, perhaps, becomes just a little less humble and appreciated a whole lot more.

But there are going to be challenges ahead. Pesticides taken for granted over the last 50 years are becoming less and less so. The era of the chemist as the driving force behind agricultural production is perhaps going to come to an end.

Meanwhile, there are other scientists ready and willing to take up the challenge to enable growers to reliably and sustainably produce food. Geneticists, plant physiologists, experts in integrated pest management, plant breeders and others will need to work together to create the robust potato production systems of the future.

But everything might just get more complicated. Blight control will require an integrated approach with minimal pesticide interventions, while potato cyst nematode will need to be managed using techniques not reliant upon nematicides. Potato volunteers will need to be controlled throughout the rotation if they are not to destroy our efforts elsewhere.

This is all before we look to growing carbon neutral potatoes. A new approach to research, innovation and knowledge exchange will be needed.

So, its extremely timely that Scottishpotatoes.org was formed at then end of last year to bring together the potato related activity of the three major organisations involved in research and knowledge exchange for the potato crop in Scotland, namely SRUC, SASA and the James Hutton Institute. The objective of the new partnership is to drive a co-ordinated programme of research on the potato crop and accelerate the innovations that will lift the industry.

Working together with the industry the partnership can ensure that the research is targeted at the issues of most concern and that it is rapidly translated back into practice, so helping the potato industry reach a profitable and sustainable future. The enormous potential of this partnership will ensure that Scotland remains at the forefront of innovation for the potato crop.

But research can only take place when its funded appropriately and recent government initiatives and the March, 2020, budget announcement that promises to double business lead research funding and encourage commercial innovators to team with research scientists puts the scottishpotatoes.org partnership in an excellent position from which develop new ideas and to serve the industry.