Estimates by the UK’s Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) indicate that potatoes are one of three root vegetables that make up more than 50% of the overall food waste in primary production. This worrying amount leads to staggering financial losses and the effects on growers and producers cannot be over-estimated. Optimization of food production has become of significant importance in recent years. Primarily driven by climate change, legislation and financial implications, growers and producers can no longer afford to be wasteful.
For mass importer and producer of seed potatoes, AR Tarim based in Turkey, the need for stringent quality control became a significant factor in helping them meet their goals and to respond to the changing needs of the industry. Up to 8000 tons of seed potatoes are imported and around 11,000 tons are locally produced by the company and stored in their 1000-year-old cave storage facility located in Kayseri. For AR Tarim, ensuring continual high-quality produce with minimal waste is central to their aim to become more efficient and to exceed customer expectations.
“We had come across some quality issues,” explained Ekrem Suad Sadak, managing director of AR Tarim. His team approached UK crop quality and storage specialists Martin Lishman Ltd, after seeing their extensive range of potato quality equipment on display at Potato Europe. Martin Lishman’s 45+ years’ experience in the industry has led to the development of several cost-effective agri-tech solutions to help aid farmers and producers to maximise their yield and minimize waste.Mr Sadak adds “The range offers solutions for medium size companies with limited resources and budget to improve the quality of their products, gain more trust from customers and expand.”
“We have worked with growers and producers all over the world to continuously develop our product range,” explains Dr Gavin Lishman, managing director of Martin Lishman Ltd. “This hands-on approach allows us into the mindset of our customers, helping us to understand the challenges they face so we can offer a solution. When AR Tarim approached us, we were more than happy to share our knowledge and provide them with the tools to help improve the quality of their produce.”
Potato bruising was a big concern for the team at AR Tarim. Thankfully, Martin Lishman offers two tried and tested solutions in answer to this problem. The TuberLog Electronic Potato, a data logger disguised as a potato, identifies the location and severity of damage-causing impacts in harvesting and handling machinery, enabling the user to carry out adjustments, and the HotBox, a sealed cabinet that exposes tubers ready for storage to both humidity and heat to test for disease, infections and bruising. “The TuberLog has helped us to reduce mechanical damage; meaning the grading machine no longer causes any tuber bruising. The harvester seems to work better too, since the crop which arrives from the field shows less problems. The Hot Box is now so well established in our process that it is unthinkable not to have it. It is essential for us in the early detection of seed tuber issues like Alternaria, Dry Rot etc.”, stated Mr Sadak.
To further help improve the quality of the seed potatoes, the introduction of a soil testing kit from Martin Lishman has added to AR Tarim’s quality control armoury. A popular choice for agronomists and farming professionals worldwide, the portable SKW500 soil laboratory gives the growing team an insight into soil condition and highlights any requirements for healthy seed growth.
AR Tarim’s 1000-year-old cave storage facility is a natural way of storing potatoes. With little energy demands, the cave’s unique design naturally provides ideal storage conditions throughout the year. Ambient temperatures of 4°C in winter and 14°C in summer are easily achieved, even when outside temperatures can reach up to 35°C. The introduction of 21st century quality control measures to complement the cave’s effective storage conditions has given the AR Tarim team a reassurance boost, knowing that the products they sell are of the highest quality possible. Mr Sadak closed with, “Our investments in achieving a better quality product, combined with before and after-sales service makes us stand out. We will continue to develop our company in this direction”.