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Seed and Exports

Safe Haven Certification Scheme

20 August 2015

Sixty per-cent of British seed is now covered by the voluntary Safe Haven scheme. The Safe Haven Certification Scheme was set up by the British seed industry in 2004 to provide additional protection for the British potato industry and it’s customers from bacterial ring rot.

The scheme comprises scientifically robust protocols that ensure best practice for seed growing and handling and require businesses who are members of the scheme to be audited annually to ensure compliance. The scheme presently covers 60% of all seed production in GB. The Safe Haven scheme also provides additional protection against other harmful organisms like brown rot and soft rots caused by Dickeya species. The 'ring fence' that the scheme provides ensures that all seed within the scheme is only grown from Safe Haven-sourced seed or disease-free nuclear stock and this helps protect against any pests and diseases not found in Britain which affect potatoes.

Safe Haven Certification Scheme - Information and advice

  • Safe Haven Standards: The Safe Haven Scheme is one of the Red Tractor Schemes owned by Assured Food Standards and the standards have been developed to address best practice and scientific evidence on the most effective way to exclude bacterial Ring Rot and Dickeya.
    Updated Safe Haven standards here. (Last updated October 2014)
    Updated New Entrants Protocol here (Last updated October 2014)
  • Directory  Membership list of currently accredited safe haven seed growers

  • Safe Haven Brochure  (247Kb) featuring the safe haven standards.

  • Additional benefits Benefits of the safe haven scheme against other pests and diseases. (Link to page Safehaven Page 3.doc)

  • Bacterial ring rot of potato - the facts .Summarised guide to the disease, 7 pages.  If you would like a copy of the full 47 page report of which the above is a summary, please contact AHDB Potatoes Publications.

  • Further information from Fera and Scottish Government

  • Pictures A selection of photographs of tubers showing ring rot symptoms

Ring Rot is a bacterial infection listed as notifiable under the EU Council Directive 2000/29/EC. The organism presents no risk to human health but does however present a significant risk to potato production. Symptoms of ring rot are slow to develop and so can remain undetected in crops from generation to generation. This makes the disease extremely difficult to control once it is established as seed material will have been distributed and tubers handled with the same machinery contaminated.

What you can do...

The seed supply chain in Great Britain is free from Ring Rot and will remain this way provided we - as an industry - work together to prevent it being imported.

Individual decisions about seed sourcing matter!

AHDB Potatoes work on this subject is led by the Head of Seed Export: 
Robert Burns, tel: +44 (0)131 472 4149

The Safe Haven Certification Scheme is designed to reduce the risk of outbreaks of Ring Rot, and other bacterial diseases of potatoes such as Brown Rot and Dickeya - Blackleg through a series of standards covering all the potential infection points. Growers should request Safe Haven seed whenever possible to protect our industry from non-indigenous diseases.

Safe Haven interviews - archive video for reference; filmed at BP2009

Interview 1:

Speaker - Mark Prentice, (formely head of Seed and Export) AHDB Potatoes.
What the Safe Haven scheme is, why it is important and how it can help against Dickeya-Blackleg.




Interview 2:

Speaker - Graham Nichols, Seed Potato grower and Safe Haven member. Why the scheme is important to both seed and ware growers, the benefits it provides, what would happen to a seed business if a Ring Rot outbreak was discovered.



Interview 3:

Speaker - John Elphinstone, Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA). A scientific view on the Safe Haven scheme and its importance.




Interview 4:

Speaker - Nigel Allam, Agrimarc, Ware/Seed supplier.
Why Safe Haven is an important consideration when sourcing seed and the impact Ring Rot and other diseases would have on sector.



Additional benefits of the Safe Haven scheme against other pests and diseases

There are many benefits offered by the safe haven scheme against pests and diseases other than ring rot. Safe Haven can help protect against any pest or disease that can be imported or introduced by seed. This includes other bacterial diseases like brown rot or Dickeya spp. and soil borne pests like root knot nematode.