asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if his attention has been drawn to the major difficulties farmers have experienced in obtaining seed potatoes particularly healthy stock and foundation stock; if his attention has further been drawn to the poor quality of the seed supplied in 1987; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Seed Potatoes.
I am not aware of any particular difficulty experienced by growers in procuring certified seed of Super Elite or Elite categories. However, the satisfactory returns obtained by growers last season gave rise to a significant increase in the demand this year for foundation stock seed and this caused a slight shortfall in supply.
All certified seed marketed is subject to inspection by my Department. The quality of some lots of seed supplied to fill orders for foundation stock recently has given rise to complaints and the matter is being investigated.
Is the Minister in a position to state the difference in proportions rejected as being unsuitable between the current year and last year?
I do not have that information available, but I am sure it can be procured from my Department.
Is the Minister aware that the proportion in the last year indicated that the export of seed potatoes was one of the few agricultural areas which could be expanded? Will the Minister investigate the possibilities of developing the export potato market as soon as possible?
An Bord Glas will apply themselves to developing the potato market and the problems and difficulties in relation to seed potatoes will be attended to as soon as possible.
The Minister's own county and the Connacht-Ulster area have a tradition as growers and suppliers of export seed potatoes so I ask the Minister to concentrate his efforts on those areas.
Could the Minister confirm whether or not there have been complaints in respect of Department of Agriculture and Food certified seed potatoes?
I am not in a position to confirm that. It is an area on which I can get more detailed information for the Deputy.
I am anxious to obtain that information because if there were a breakdown in inspections or in relation to other guidelines governing the production and sale of seed potatoes it would have a serious impact on the entire potato industry.