campo de cultivo de papa brotes de papa tuberculos

Argentine potato farmers on study tour in Holland

A group of 22 potato growers and processors from several regions in Argentina, visited the Netherlands during the last week of June on invitation of the GITAH papa group.  During the tour,  Dutch farmers and companies that supply agricultural equipment, seeds and services were visited, in order to give the visitors an insight in how the Dutch potato sector is organised and how it performs.

The group was welcomed in the head office of prominent GITAH members HZPC and APH in Joure, in the north-east of the country. All parts of the supply chain were included in the tour, starting with a day focussed on seed potatoes including a visit to the research and development department of the seed potato company HZPC that is also active in Argentina. There, in greenhouse facilities, each year thousands of new varieties are multiplied, monitored and selected, after more than a decade leading to just 2 or 3 new varieties that become available for the market. A representative of NAK, (the Dutch inspection and certification service for seeds) explained how seed potatoes are being inspected and certified.

After a good lunch in a nearby fishing port, a seed potato farmer was visited. The farm is a 100 hectare family business with a 1 in 3 rotation that is run by Mr. and Mrs. Van der Werff and their sons Ytzen and Pieter, without further staff, quite representative for a typical potato producer in the Netherlands, living on the farm. The visit gave the Argentines an insight on how a Dutch farm is run. Also demonstrations with a bed planting machine were given here as well as a presentation on soil- and seed bed preparation. The next day, the focus was on retail and packing.

In the HZPC office, a presentation was given by HZPC that showed that the company is involved in marketing concepts for fresh potatoes and the development of several niche markets. They do so in order to create market for special potato varieties and also in order to be able to predict what type of varieties need to be developed to meet the market demand 12 years from now. In an Albert-Heijn supermarket (until 2004 the owners of the Argentine Disco stores) in the centre of the small city of Joure, it could be seen how potatoes are presented to the public. First issue that caught the attention was the fact that fresh potatoes are the first product one runs into after entering the store. All is packed, mainly in 2½ kg or 5 kg plastic perforated bags on offer in 4 different colour packing to distinguish between the 4 main type of potato groups. This packing and the use of colours are standardised in the whole country and in all stores. Customers can thus easily grab the bag of the type they prefer or need for a special dish. Apart from these 4 main groups, also specialties like organic certified or special varieties are on offer, but clearly in lower quantities. Also the processed potato products, including frozen French fries were available in different trade-marks and in different price segments. Notable in the supermarket was also the amount of space available for crisps in all kinds of shapes and flavours indicating the size of the market for these kind of processed potato products.

During the afternoon, a pack-house of the company Flevostar was visited. The owner, mr Jaap Kodde, started as a potato farmer and started packing activities 20 years ago in order to add value to his products and to strengthen its position in marketing of his product. Nowadays they operate a fully mechanised pack-house with only 6 fixed staff, using weighing and packing equipment of GITAH- and APH group member Manter, and sorting equipment from GITAH- and APH group member Bijlsma-Hercules, packing for the local market as well as for many export destinations on all continents.

On Thursday, the focus was on storage, efficiency and innovative farming practices. The day started with a visit to the company Omnivent, producer of storage- cooling- and ventilation equipment for potato, onion and carrot that is also active in Argentina represented by the APH Group ARG. Also Omnivent is a member of GITAH. Here the different systems for storing products were explained like forced cooling, suction- and pressure systems, storing in bins and storing in bulk. Potatoes can be kept in good condition for a period of 8 to 9 months, provided a healthy product is being stored under optimal conditions. All systems can be monitored fully automatically and the service department of Omnivent can assist by entering the systems of customers worldwide from their head office in Holland if required.

Also a presentation was given here by the company Bijlsma-Hercules about systems and equipment for receiving, transporting and grading potatoes between harvest and in and out of store. Bijlsma-Hercules is also present in Argentina and represented by APH Group Argentina. Capacity and careful handling, avoiding bruises and damages are main issues here as well as the influence of the way bins or pallet boxes are filled on the storability of the product. A visit to the storage facilities of a potato farmer showed the systems in practice.

A trip all the way to the south ofthe country, brought the group to a farmer called van den Borne. On this farm, owned by Jacob and Jan van den Borne, they grow some 500 hectares of ware potatoes on hundreds of different plots in Belgium and Holland, in majority rented fields. Because of the different history, soil type and fertility of the plots and even within plots, this farmer monitors all his fields by satellite, sensor recording by small aeroplanes and field machinery equipped with sensors that map production in previous crops all over a plot. Soil fertility is mapped and fertiliser application is adapted to that. Water storing capacity is monitored and irrigation is adapted to that. Mapping of shade percentages and light intensity in fields bordered by trees, leads to an adaptation of planting distances in the zones concerned.

GITAH member Dacom gave a presentation here because this farmer makes use of their systems. Dacom supplies online monitoring systems for soil moisture and advises on irrigation moment and quantity depending on type of crop, climate, soil type etc. Also for disease- and pest control, the crops are monitored and advise for spraying is being optimised depending on the presence or development rate of the invaders. Efficiency improvement in cultivation is the main drive to make use of this system and substantial savings are obtained with it in water- and chemical use and the crop performance also increases notably. Investments in the system are usually recovered within a period of 1½ to 2 years.

On the last day of the visit, the focus was on potato processing and the group was received by Farm Frites on the head office and factory south of Rotterdam. Farm Frites also operates a production facility in Munro, Bs.As. An insight was given on the company’s world-wide strategy, especially regarding Russia, China and South America and mainly focussing on supplying the fast food sector rather than selling on retail level under brand name. This market is a highly competitive market and raw material supply is an important issue whereby producers need to be able to obtain high yields and word cost effective.

A tour through the production facility completed this visit and after lunch, a network reception in the centre of Rotterdam was the last item on the program. Here the first results of a study to the Argentine marked for table potatoes was presented by Agriment international consultancy. With a main conclusion that for farmers the best way to improve their income is to focus on improving yields, to produce more efficiently (mechanize) and to cooperate in a chain. A second main conclusion is the fact that pre-packing in consumer packages is increasing but only within the supermarket segment and therefor by far the majority of potatoes are marketed in 25 kg bags. The best way to improve efficiency is to mechanize the field production and specially, the harvest. This implies that preferably varieties need to be planted that are better suitable for mechanical harvest than the Spunta’s that currently dominate the fresh sector. It also implies that bags will no longer be filled on the field but will be filled fully automatic by a weighing and bagging line after the product has been sorted and calibrated. When the weighing and bagging line is a flexible line, it can pack in any weight and packing material. For example; mainly in 25 kg mesh bags but also adaptable to pack in paper bags or 2½ kg mesh consumer package. It is therefore to be expected that pack stations in Argentina will be mostly located in the production area (producer-packer model) rather than in the consumer area.

Several Dutch companies that are active in the potato sector were present at the meeting in Rotterdam as well as representative of the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs and representatives of the Argentine embassy in the Hague. The latter was being asked during this meeting to have attention for the problems Argentine farmers face with importing modern equipment that they require to increase efficiency in growing, storing and handling their crops and thus stay competitive in an international context which is very much in the interest of Argentina. 

canasto de papa

Potato Events 2012


January 12th - 15th 2012

Fiesta Nacional de la Papa in Villa Dolores

March 15th - 18th 2012

35th Fiesta de la Papa in Otamendi.

March 16th 2012

Field Demonstration Dewulf Potato Harvester 2060 and Baselier Rotary Ridging cultivator

March 14th -17th 2013

36th Fiesta Provincial de la Papa in Otamendi. Gitah will have its own stand and will perform various activities, especially the reception for GITAH Field Mission 2012 participants

March 16th 2013

Manter Packing Demonstration in Nesmaral - Potato producer and packer for the fresh market. San Martín 296 Cdte. Nicanor Otamendi - Provincia de Buenos Aires.

March 16th 2013

Omnivent Storage Demonstration in Sol del Este

November 29th 2013

Jornada Técnia AgroPapa in Córdoba.

March 20th - 23th 2014

37th Fiesta Provincial de la Papa in Otamendi. Gitah will have its own stand and will perform various field demonstrations.

April 24th, 2014

Packaging and Marketing Workshop at Nesmaral, Otamendi


April 30th - May 4th 2012

Agrishow, Riberao Preto

June 20th - 22th 2012

Hortitec 2012, Holambra, SP

September 17th - 20th 2012

XXV ALAP Congress , Uberlândia, MG.

The Netherlands

August 22th 2012

Potato Demo Days Westmaas

November 10th - 16th 2013

Agritechnica 2013. At the world’s leading international exhibition for agricultural machinery and equipment, exhibitors from all over the world will be presenting their products and services for professional plant production.

September 11th - 12th 2013

PotatoEurope 2013. This event will be the heart of the international potato industry, where colleagues, clients, potential clients, suppliers, researchers and all other services in the potato chain will be gathered.

Sept. 2013

Gitah Potato Mission and visit to Potato Europe in Emmeloord, Netherlands. Dutch farmers and companies will be visited, in order to give the visitors an insight in how the Dutch potato sector is organised and how it performs.


Sept. 12th - 13th 2012

Potato Europe, Villers-Saint-Christophe, France


September 28th - October 2nd 2014

Congress of the Latin-American Association of Potato (ALAP).


September 3rd - 4th 2014

Potato Europe , Bockerode (Hannover)