French potato breeder Germicopa announced this week that it would become one of the first companies to supply potato seeds for use in Israel’s Negev. The company hopes to take advantage of Israel’s year-round growing season to supply potato-loving Italy with spuds even when continental Europe’s fields are frozen.
Germicopa, based in Quimper, was founded in 1947 to develop and promote new varietals of potatoes. The potato seeds headed to Israel are for the new Daifla potatoes, which a press release describes as “suitable for mashed potatoes, gnocchi, filling pocket pastries, knishes and baking.”
Agriculture is a vital, though shrinking, part of the Israeli economy, accounting for 2.5 percent of GDP and 3.6 percent of exports. The practice is also a huge part of Israeli culture. Advanced irrigation techniques turned the desert nation into a major producer, and communal farming practices were (and are) central to Israeli identity.
Potatoes are not currently considered one of the country’s major crops, which include citrus fruits and grains like wheat, sorgum, and corn.
The company’s statement adds that increased demand for produce from Russia and Eastern Europe have stretched thin the continent’s winter stores.