A new farming organisation has been formed hoping to become a unifying voice for the potato industry.

GB Potatoes aims to promote the sector's interests and explore its needs following the demise of the levy-funded AHDB Potatoes Board, which was disbanded earlier this year following a government consultation.

Its working group says a "less bureaucratic, more inclusive, and more appropriately-funded successor" is needed to engage businesses across the industry.

It aims to inspire cross-industry collaboration by bringing together a supply chain including growers, packers, processors, seed suppliers, research organisations, advisors and trade associations.

Tony Bambridge is managing director of seed potato producers B&C Farming in Marsham, one of several Norfolk businesses helping to drive the initiative.

He encouraged new members to join the "lean and mean industry body which will be a voice for the industry".

"What we envisage is that GB Potatoes does not dictate what its members should do, but it provides an enabling body, a vehicle for the industry to do things that it wants to collectively," he said.

"For instance, some early growers feel there should have been some promotion of the British early potato season, and they would have liked to have done something about it.

"Those growers did not have enough resource themselves to do anything, but they would have liked to collaborate with other early growers to run a marketing campaign, probably through social media.

"So therefore if you have an industry body that holds the data of the industry it has the ability to put like-minded people together to decide if they want to do something.

"Then perhaps GB Potatoes can help set them up with a provider and will have a bank account to pay for that work, so a group of like-minded growers can work together to promote their earlies, or do some research on virus if they are seed growers, or perhaps storage work."

Mr Bambridge said because members pay a voluntary subscription rather than a statutory levy, GB Potatoes is independent from government and can spend money on what members want to fund.

"As a farmer we were paying about £44 per hectare to AHDB Potatoes, but we are talking about £10 per hectare in the first year to get this set up," he said. "Then hopefully it will reduce after the initial set-up costs."

For more information see www.gb-potatoes.co.uk or email info@gb-potatoes.co.uk.