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Climate-Smart Potatoes

  • Reay D
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For a long time, Europe, North America and the former Soviet Union were the powerhouses of world potato growing. Since the 1960s, though, production in Asia, Africa and Latin America has more than quadrupled, and China and India between them now grow over one-third of the enormous 350 million tonne global potato harvest. Every tonne of raw chips has a carbon footprint of just under a tonne of greenhouse gas emissions. Each year in the UK, we discard some 320,000 tonnes that could have been eaten. This veritable mountain of dumped potatoes represents an annual climate penalty of well over 80,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Drought is a major risk for many growers, as few in the UK use irrigation, and the viable area of rain-fed potatoes could shrink to 5 per cent of its current extent as droughts intensify in twenty-first-century Britain. Diseases such as late blight also pose a big threat for growers around the world. A combination of disease and drought-resistant varieties, along with irrigation, soil management and greater farm nutrient efficiency can deliver much greater resilience and more secure yields, while driving down emissions.




Reay, D. (2019). Climate-Smart Potatoes. In Climate-Smart Food (pp. 151–163). Springer International Publishing.

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