Successful potato production largely depends on the quality of the planting material. Due to the susceptibility of the potato to several transmissible diseases, it is not possible to multiply the same seed source for an indefinite period of time. The South African potato industry has a sophisticated seed potato industry, which plays a vital role in the growth of the ware potato and processing industries. Stringent requirements are set in respect of the production of seed potatoes and certification officials of Potato Certification Service ensure that certified seed potatoes meet the requirements of the Scheme. Field and tuber inspection findings are supported by laboratory test results, with regard to certain bacterial diseases and viruses, before certification is awarded. The process of certification is managed by a sophisticated data management system. Approximately 10 000 hectares are registered annually for seed potato production. Only laboratories registered with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and approved by the Independent Certification Council for Seed Potatoes are permitted to conduct laboratory tests for certification of seed potatoes. Once seed potatoes comply with all the requirements of the Scheme, certification is awarded. Certification is evidenced by the official certification label attached to the seed potato bag.
South African Seed Potato Certification Scheme
Potato Certification Service developed a protocol (Protocol) which describes how the Scheme is implemented. The purpose of this document is to provide clear guidelines with regard to the various actions and processes emanating from the application of the South African Seed Potato Certification Scheme, and specifically those actions and procedures which are not adequately dealt with or described in detail in the Scheme. The actions, procedures and processes which follow upon one another up to the eventual certification of seed potatoes are also discussed. It is furthermore a working document which allows for reasonably quick amendment of certain procedures after consultation with all those involved and approved by Council. This is in contrast with the provisions of the Scheme, where amendments can only be effected after intensive investigation and broad consultation as well as publication in the Government Gazette. The Protocol is only available to registered seed potato growers and should be read in conjunction with the Scheme.