Less potatoes were planted in Ireland this year due to spiraling input costs for growers, according to the chair of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s Potato Committee, Sean Ryan.

Speaking on the latest episode of Farmland, Ryan stated that potato farmers are grappling with substantial rises in input costs and are feeling the pinch in electricity and fuel prices in particular.

Although farmers experienced a good year in terms of weather conditions for planting, less potatoes went into the ground, according to Ryan. He said:

“In general it was a great year of planting, we got great conditions the same as all the other crops and commodities. But there seems to have been less planted because of the input costs.

“We haven’t got the department figures on it yet, but we’ll have those in about three weeks or a months time.”

Electricity and fuel costs

When potatoes are harvested, they must be kept in a cold room at 3 degrees to prevent budding or spoilage, and the electricity costs associated with running these rooms 24/7 is spiraling, Ryan outlined.

“One example is a farmer in Wexford, his costs for the cold room three years ago was €1,800 for two months, this year it was €9,120.

“So there’s a serious cost increase there in keeping the potatoes ripe. The consumer doesn’t always realise that.”

In addition to this, a lot of machinery is used every day on a potato farms according to Ryan, meaning the increase in diesel prices has been tough on growers.

“Planting out the crops, there’s serious machinery involved in that which brings serious costs. Transport has gone up as well now so it’s a vicious circle really. It has a knock on effect for everyone.”

Ryan welcomed Ireland’s hosting of the World Potato Congress next week, which will take place over three days in Dublin’s RDS. He said events such as it help to inform people and showcase what potato growers do.

“There are over 1,000 people coming to it and then Bloom is on shortly afterwards, where Bord Bia will have a stand with all the different potato varieties.

“All of this is a help to the industry, we need to showcase to the consumer the potato growing sector,” he concluded.