Don’t be a Couch Potato…Eat more potatoes, South Africa!

by Tia

After a hard day of voting, why not indulge in some delectable spuds in celebration of the first ever International Day of Potato! Today, officially designated as an annual observance by the UN General Assembly, aims to highlight the potato’s nutritional, economic, environmental, and cultural importance as well as its contribution to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Chip in

The inaugural theme? ‘Harvesting diversity, feeding hope’, which underscores the crucial role potatoes play in our nation’s food security, GDP and cultural heritage. Potatoes have long been a staple in South Africa’s cuisine, from ‘slaptjips’ to the beloved ‘kota’ (made from a hollowed-out quarter loaf of bread and filled with a variety of ingredients, including chips, sausage, cheese, polony etc.). Our diverse potato varieties and innovative farming practices showcase the ingenuity and dedication of our local farmers, emphasising the vital part they play in feeding our country.

In 2023, SA cultivated 52,000 ha of potatoes, producing 2.5 million tons of nutritious food. Despite this impressive production, our per capita consumption is only 35 kg per year, lower than countries like Turkey, Argentina, Egypt and Malawi – so Mzansi get eating! By simply increasing our consumption by one potato per week, we can positively impact production, exports and help increase overall market value.

No small potatoes…

In addition to being a major contributor to rural livelihoods, employment and economic growth, potatoes are a climate-friendly crop, producing lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to other staples. Their adaptability allows these vegetables – yes, potatoes are in fact vegetables – to thrive in various environments, and in South Africa they are produced all year round. Far from being simple, potatoes are also versatile (whether you’re a fan of traditional dishes or modern creations), abundant in nutrients, naturally fat-free, and provide a significant amount of our daily intake of vitamins and minerals.

Let’s boost our local potato consumption and support South African farmers. Together, we can make potatoes a key part of our daily meals, enhancing our nutrition and driving socioeconomic growth.

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