Chance to root out vital skills for summer job

Students on one of the potato roguing courses run by Scotland's Rural College.
Students on one of the potato roguing courses run by Scotland's Rural College.

A chance for north east Fife residents to acquire the skills to be “tattie roguers” is being offered by the Elmwood campus of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), in Cupar.

The potato industry in Scotland is worth some £221 million a year and depends on the work of roguers.

Those successfully completing a five-day course in June at Cupar put themselves in pole position to earn some cash, develop a tan and make friends for life.

Only they have the skills, senses and stamina to identify and root out the threats to Scotland’s international reputation for disease-free seed potatoes.

The crops, grown in fields on the east side of the country, gained their reputation because the cooler summers and colder winters mean there are far fewer of the aphids that carry virus diseases.

Seed potatoes are the smaller tubers used by other growers to produce the ‘ware’ crops we buy to eat.

Scotland produces 80 per cent of the seed potatoes grown in the UK. There are 240 seed growers producing 300,000 tonnes, mainly for export.

The courses at Elmwood are scheduled for June 15 to 19 and 22 to 26.

According to Euan Fraser, senior potato consultant with SAC Consulting ( part of SRUC), once they have learned to identify different varieties, spot signs of key diseases or pests and have received their certificate, the roguers are a frontline defence force.

Each course will cost £325 but is VAT exempt.

As students will train using growing crops, the dates may change, depending on the growing season.

To find out more, contact Sandra Sey at Elmwood (01334) 658868