The world's potato production growth stagnated in 2018 and couldn't recover in 2019, according to a statement that the World Potato Congress made on February 20. In total, 368,247,000 tons were produced in 2018, according to FAO. Even so, it was the third-highest production after 2017 and 2014.
FAO estimated that 158 countries for which it has data cultivated 17,580,000 hectares in 2018, i.e. 7.9% less than in 2017 (9,099,000 hectares). The biggest adjustments took place in China and Russia. It is estimated that China cultivated 4,813,000 hectares were cultivated in 2018 (1% less than in 2017) and produced 90,321,000 tons of potatoes, far from its 200 million tons goal.
The report highlights that Ukraine became the second-largest producer in the world (after India), displacing Russia, which cultivated 22,395,000 tons of potatoes in 2018 on 1,313,000 hectares. The FAO also highlighted the growth of France by 25,000 hectares and the largest production in Canada.
Thus, it estimates that the yield fell by 1.2% in 2018 due to a large drop in performance in the EU as a result of the drought that year.
The only continent that saw an increase in its potato plantations in 2018 was Africa (3.3% to 1,904,000 hectares), which could displace North America in 2020 as the third-biggest potato producer.
More than half of the world's potatoes were grown in Asia in 2018, while Europe accounted for 30% of the production.
China and India accounted for almost 40% of the world's potato area in 2017. Other major Asian producers are Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan. In 2018, Nepal displaced Uzbekistan from the list of the 25 largest producers, while Pakistan had the largest increase in production among the main producers.
Europe continues to consolidate in production. Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom account for half of the European plantations in 2018 and 60% of their potato production. When Poland is added to this list, the six countries account for two-thirds of the area and almost three-quarters of European production. This scheme was consolidated in 2019.
The World Potato Congress acknowledged that potato lags behind other products in terms of productivity development.
The average growth in potato yield increased from 14.3 tons per hectare in 1968 to 20.9 tons per hectare in 2018, which meant an increase of only 46.2%.
“In the next decade, we should see a continuous development of performance that could be accelerated by greater use of technology and genetic editing. The yields of all crops will have to be increased to feed an expanding world population in a deteriorating environment due to climate change and if new farmland isn't added to production,” the report concludes.