A seed potato is a tuber used for reproduction and cultivation. It is a method of vegetative propagation.
Seed potatoes have an important place in Luxembourg exportations of agricultural products.
From selection material produced by specialized institutions, it is possible to produce up to nine generations of seed potatoes in reproduction fields.
Obligations and controls
In order to preserve germination capacity, identity and varietal purity as well as good phytosanitary quality, a mandatory certification system has been put in place for seed potatoes marketed within the European Union (EU).
The Administration of Agricultural Technical Services (ASTA) pays particular attention to the control of seed potatoes marketed in Luxembourg and conducts certification of plants produced in the Luxembourg territory. A large part of the harvest is exported to third countries.
The certification of seed potatoes is mandatory prior to marketing and is defined by Luxembourg and European legislation. There are three categories of seed potatoes subdivided into classes. For each class, there are specific standards with respect to purity and phytosanitary quality.
Certification includes several stages of controls:
- the ASTA inspects the reproduction fields to visually verify varietal purity, isolation distances and phytosanitary quality.
- each reproduction field has an official number. The harvest from a parcel constitutes a lot and is stored and packaged separately. Samples are collected by the ASTA on each lot and tested in a laboratory for the presence of any viruses.
- in production facilities, the ASTA verifies storage conditions and carries out visual inspections of the lots to determine the presence of damaged, deformed or rotten tubers or tubers showing external defects.
- the lots that meet the conditions set by law are certified and packages are closed and sealed with an official label.
Certification ensures perfect traceability of all stages of production.
In addition, the ASTA keeps an updated list of harmful pests. It verifies the absence of these organisms in the fields and lots by visual and laboratory examinations.
To be sold, seed potato packages must be officially closed and bear a certification label.
For the transport within the EU, seed potatoes must moreover be accompanied by a plant passport (the lower portion of the certification label).
For the transport within the EU in order to export to third countries, seed potatoes must be accompanied by an intra-EU phytosanitary communication document.
A non-GMO certificate may be requested to demonstrate the absence of Genetically Modified Organisms.
The following procedures, described on the guichet.lu website, are used to request ASTA certificates for seed potatoes:
- request for a phytosanitary certificate for the export or re-export of plants, plant products and wood
- request for a plant passport for the transport of plants and plant products within the European Union
- request for an intra-EU phytosanitary communication document for the transport within the European Union of plants or plant products intended to be exported to third countries
- request for a letter of authorization for the introduction or movement of plants and plant products for trials or scientific purposes, at research centers studying harmful pests.
The Administration of Agricultural Technical Services (ASTA) is in charge of certification inspections and the establishment of plant passports, phytosanitary certificates and non-GMO certificates for seed potatoes.