Lebanon Businessnews News

Europe considers entry of local potatoes
Produce now disease-free
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The European Union’s (EU) specialized authority is expected to decide on allowing local potatoes to enter its markets, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) said.

The MoA said that the potato produce is now treated for diseases that were affecting it. This disease was prohibiting potato farmers from exporting to Europe.

Lena Dargham, General Director at Libnor, said: “The local potato produce meets European standards in quality and grading.”

The MoA had recently concluded a project to make local potatoes compliant with EU standards. The Italian Cooperation Institute and the MoA funded the initiative, which was implemented by the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (CHIEAM-IAMB).

The program aims to improve the quality of potatoes by helping farmers technically apply international standards through the Lebanese Agriculture Research Institute (LARI). It also aims to increase the quality and quantity of potato produced for European markets.

Dargham said: “When we were setting the standards for growing potatoes, we took as reference the standards of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) and the World Health Organization (WHO).”

Local farmers produce about 300,000 tons of potato yearly, half of which is exported. The amounts that could be exported to Europe could reach 50,000 tons yearly, as per MoA figures. Dargham said: “Exporters have a big responsibility in admitting locally-grown potatoes into Europe. They should apply the standards, focus on the quality, and perform the tests regarding pesticide residues.”

Reported by Rania Ghanem
Date Posted: May 30, 2013
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