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Nina Pullman



Thursday 6th February 2014, 08:31 Central Time

Visit ‘may reopen’ Cuban potato market

A government-backed trade visit to Cuba was 'positive' and may reopen strategic market into Caribbean for British seed potatoes

Visit ‘may reopen’ Cuban potato market

Seed potatoes are an important industry for Scotland and brings £30m to British economy

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A seed potato trade mission to Cuba last month was “very positive” and could open a strategic gateway market into the Caribbean for British seed exports.

Representatives from the Potato Council and the Scottish government visited Cuba in January for general discussions and to meet with the Cuban minister for agriculture.

The aim was to reopen the Cuban market for British potato seed.

Potato Council communications officer Sophie Lock said although nothing had been confirmed, the discussions had been “very favourable”.

She said: “We are hopeful that Cuba will accept British potato seed in the future.

“Cuba is a good gateway market for the rest of the Caribbean. It takes a long time to get seed over there so you may as well send it further.”

She added: “Potato seed exports currently generate around £30 million a year for the British economy, so it is by no means an insignificant industry.”

Lock said that it is a question of balancing, as well as expanding, the portfolio for British potato seed exports.

“The Egyptian market is growing every year. But we need to make sure we have other options. You have to protect yourself,” she said.

Trade visits to new markets have to be done on an official basis because it is a government decision to accept new seed imports, according to quarantine regulations, Lock said.

But she stressed that such visits are a very collaborative process and work is guided by a mixture of growers, exporters and breeders. 

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