Home' Grower : July 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower -- July 2012
South East Potato Growers Association chairman Andrew Widdison says while decreased local supply into McCain Foods has
setback SA growers, a major issue at hand was the grower-versus-import problem.
opportunities to reduce their business costs and
improve their returns. These growers have indicated
their intention to participate in further workshops on
Shadow Agriculture Minister Adrian Pederick said
the State Government's cuts to the agriculture budg-
et could not come at a worse time.
"The Labor government has cut $80m from the
budget for agriculture and we have seen more than
400 employees in the agriculture industry lose their
jobs in the past four years thanks to Labor," Mr
"We need more expertise from the government for
agricultural industries in order to offer assistance to
our farmers. Horticultural industries across our State
are facing the same problem."
SE Potato Growers Association chairman Andrew
Widdison says the major problem is imports.
"It is very disappointing that we are able to export
most things in Australia, but not potatoes," he said.
"Our exchange rate is really the killer and while we
will have to batten down the hatches until an eco-
nomic balance has been restored, many farmers will
not be able to wait that out."
Mr Widdison says while the outlook is "really
bleak" at the moment, producers are tr ying to keep
the local processing facilities at Penola and remain
confident that the industr y can adapt, innovate and
improve efficiencies to remain viable.
WHILE the humble spud has graced the dinner
tables of families for centuries, a range of new
varieties have been steadily finding their way
onto supermarket shelves in recent times.
One newcomer has even the diet gurus taking
a second look.
Carisma, a yellow-skinned, yellow-flesh
potato, is Australia's first low gylcemic index
potato with a GI rating of 53 compared to other
Australian potatoes which average 77.
According to Frank Mitolo, of the Mitolo Group,
the country's largest grower/packer/producer of
potatoes and onions, Carisma has been a long
process, from development to production.
"Carisma is an evolving variety. It was
discovered to be Low GI after routine testing
with the University of Sydney and that is the
key benefit of this potato," he said.
"It won the AUSVEG innovative marketing
Award in 2011 at the National Awards of
Mr Mitolo said that in today's economic
climate, consumers were looking to be more
"This product can assist them on the way. Its
production keeps increasing over time in line
with the demand through Coles stores
nationally," he said.
"Customers are able to see its benefits and
we are often getting enquiries from consumers
who are diabetic as this is their solution to
bringing potato back onto their plate."
The Mitolo group is a South Australia success
story, growing potatoes in the State for over 38
years. It has packaging facilities at Virginia and
growing operations coordinated in the Mallee
and Riverland districts.
The group has more than 18,000 hectares
dedicated to growing the potatoes.
Hope in new low GI Carisma for humble spud
Supermarkets were the first to
bring in cheaper imported products
and slash the cost of home-grown
staples. Now there are other agents
doing the same
-- Mingbool potato farmer
Carisma potatoes -- Australia's first low GI potatoes -- being processed at Mitolo
Group's Virginia packing plant.
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