Potato growers in Scotland have been given access to a potentially huge market after the Chinese government allowed the import of Scottish seed potato mini tubers.

The go-ahead was given by the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) during a visit to the Scottish Crop Research Institute in Dundee.

‘Major potential market’

Officials said four companies met the requirements for propagation, packaging, storage, and transportation – GenTech Propagation, ProSeed International, TLC Potatoes and MBMG Scotland.

Richard Lochhead, Scottish cabinet secretary for Rural Affairs, said: “China, as the largest potato growing nation in the world, represents a major and much needed potential market for Scottish exporters.

‘Encouragement’

“The news that our mini tuber producers have been approved gives encouragement that we can successfully conclude negotiations on a similar agreement with China for the export of field-grown seed potatoes.”

China has been identified by the British Potato Council as a potentially lucrative export opportunity. Scotland already exports seed potatoes to Western Pacific Rim countries, such as Thailand and Indonesia.

Universal ban

China has operated a universal ban on the importation of seed potatoes into the country for many years.

The Netherlands, the world’s largest producer of seed potatoes, Canada and the USA have all attempted to negotiate entry for their seed potatoes but so far none of them has yet shipped commercial quantities to China.