Potato industry donates 2 000kg to various charities

Millions of households are currently gripped in a desperate struggle for survival, not knowing where their next meal may come from. #PassThePotato is an initiative to encourage South Africans to donate potatoes to those in need

“We’re so honoured to have the support of Potatoes SA,” exclaimed the NS Impact Foundation on Twitter following a #PassThePotato donation. They received 150 food parcels for the Phuthadichaba Youth Project in Roodepoort, Gauteng. Photo: Twitter

“We’re so honoured to have the support of Potatoes SA,” exclaimed the NS Impact Foundation on Twitter following a #PassThePotato donation. They received 150 food parcels for the Phuthadichaba Youth Project in Roodepoort, Gauteng. Photo: Twitter

With as many as 46% of Mzansi households now experiencing hunger, Potatoes SA has called on those who can, to donate at least one bag of potatoes to the needy. To date, the organisation itself donated more than 2 000kg to various organisations.

Willie Jacobs, chief executive of Potatoes South Africa. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Although #PassThePotato was a festive season campaign, Potatoes SA chief executive Willie Jacobs says people are encouraged to continue donating the staple food. Many South Africans are heeding the call, including a Miss South Africa finalist, Jané Knoetze, who took to social media to raise awareness of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Jacobs is concerned about rising costs that have been a blow to the industry. In an interview with Food For Mzansi he says, “Potatoes are a high-risk crop with high input costs. At the rate costs are increasing, it makes production less profitable. Currently the cost-price squeeze is a big threat in the industry.”

Before we delve into some of the challenges faced by the potato industry, tell us a bit more about the #PassThePotato campaign. Social media was really buzzing about the initiative.

Millions of households are currently gripped in a desperate struggle for survival, not knowing where their next meal may come from – a situation which collectively as a society, we should find simply untenable.

We have therefore, on behalf of the country’s potato industry, launched a charitable initiative called #PassThePotato. This initiative aims to encourage South Africans to donate potatoes to those in need, and to challenge friends and family members on social media to do the same.

“Challenge accepted,” tweeted @Simply_Mando after donating a bag of potatoes to the needy as part of the #PassThePotato campaign. Photo: Twitter

Who is set to really benefit from this project?

This initiative will benefit the poor, feeding schemes and community centres. We have already donated to organisations such as Eleos Community Centre in Pretoria and the Thuthuzela Aids Community Centre in Alexandra, Johannesburg.

That’s great, but can the project give food security a boost?

Potatoes are host to several important vitamins and minerals, including potassium, zinc, and calcium, which is crucial for households lacking diverse diets. A single 150g skin-on potato even provides nearly half an adult’s recommended daily amount of vitamin C. Potatoes offer an important source of complex carbohydrates for increasing feelings of satiety and providing sustained energy – a vital benefit for households facing issues of hunger.

About those challenges faced by the potato industry…

A big threat to not only the potato industry but to the whole agricultural sector is the rapidly rising input costs, like [the price of] fertilizers, fuel and electricity. Potatoes are a high-risk crop with high input costs. At the rate costs are increasing, it makes potato production less profitable. Currently the cost-price squeeze is a big threat in the potato industry. The expiration of anti-dumping tariffs on frozen fries imported from the Netherlands and Germany is another concern.

It’s a new year. What does the future hold for the potato industry? Are you expecting some significant growth?

Various factors will influence potato production in 2022. With input costs rising, it may result in marginal fields being taken out of production. However, the wetter outlook for the summer rainfall regions could result in farmers planting more.

ALSO READ: From night watchman to PhD in viticulture

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