asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has satisfied himself with the progress being made in developing seed potato production for export in view of recent favourable reports on how markets could be expanded; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Written Answers. - Seed Potato Production.
Exports of seed potatoes declined sharply in the early 1980's due to a steep increase in production costs and the lack of suitable new varieties to compete in export markets. In the meantime the variety, Cara, has been successfully established on those markets but increased production was inhibited by unfavourable weather in the years 1983, 1985 and 1986.
Given favourable conditions, and proper attention to efficiency and disease control, there is considerable potential for increasing exports. Research work into developing new varieties for commercial sale is being undertaken by An Foras Talúntais. Irish Potato Marketing Limited, who are the agents for the institute's varieties, have recently adopted measures for improving their marketing arrangements and reducing marketing costs with a view to expansion of exports. It is also intended that An Bord Glas should pay particular attention to developing the seed potato export trade.
Question No. 34 resubmitted for oral reply.