The Managing Director of the Cosidel cooperative believes “these are not good times for growing seed potato in Spain”. This, despite the fact that there are still some market segments with a demand for national seed and that even a certain recovery is beginning to be seen. From his standpoint, “the problems in the sector are acute and need to be tackled without further delay if we don’t want to see a business, which has brought so much to seed potato producing areas, disappear”.
Javier Fernández attributes the lack of organisation to insufficient protection of the sector’s general interests in Spain, “it has been other foreign operators who, on seeing the opportunities that the sector had to offer in Spain, took advantage of them”.
Added to this is the fact that research and development of new varieties in Spain has been “purely token”. In contrast, northern Europe “has a huge capacity for market penetration by offering new varieties which dealers welcome with high hopes”. The small size of Spanish farms also has to be taken into account “they put us at a clear disadvantage with respect to the large companies of northern Europe”.
The Cosidel cooperative was created in 1982 with the aim of selling seed potato grown in the Valle de Losa. This area, located north of Burgos, is very isolated geographically and has very favourable conditions for this crop. Nowadays they are part of a cooperative of 100 farmers working annually with around 6,000 tonnes of seed potato and 4,000 tonnes of potatoes destined for consumption.
Although seed potato is their main business, with the passing of years and as a result of the needs of their members, they have been incorporating other activities such as the sales of cereals, fertilizers, pesticides, fodder and other management services which now represent 50% of the total volume of business.
Among its short-term projects Cosidel is developing potatoes for consumption and packing them under their own brand. In order to do this they are planning to build a new refrigerated storage installation and acquire a plot of land “given that the brand has been registered and protected and we are about to develop consumption throughout the area”.