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Scientific & cultural excursion No. 2

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Hauts-de-France / Nord-Pas-de-Calais (2)

OVERVIEW of the Region


The Nord-Pas de Calais area is now only one part of the new French administrative Region Hauts de France since January 2016.The region « Haut de France, Nord Pas de Calais Picardie » is located in North of France, between Paris, Belgium and Great Britain (near the Channel). It is the 4th economic region of France with an international orientation. The area was heavily marked by the battles of the First World War which the centenary celebration is underway. Industries (steel, chemicals, cars, cosmetics…) dominate, but the agriculture, fishing and food industries take up a very high level. The agriculture concerns milk breeding, most major crops as cereals, sugar beet, potatoes vegetables (first region for wheat, beets, potatoes, canned vegetables). There are also some specific crops such as chicory.

Source Wikipedia

About potatoes:


5800 growers produce 62% of the French potato production. It represents 12% of European production of ware potatoes (fresh market and processing), on 76 000 ha. 

The potato starch production is 782 000t on 14000 ha. The seed potatoes are grown on 7420 ha for a production of  238 000t (40% of the French production). The yield of ware potatoes is around 50 t/ha. The potato industry is also conducted by 28 packers for the fresh market, 7 processors (French fries, crips ….) and 1 for starch.
For seed, 17 companies are involved in commercialization and the region owns the location of the head Office of the “Comité Nord Plant” with the station of Achicourt.

Scientific visits

Wecxsteen Group



Founded in 1983 Wecxsteen Company (WEF, Wecxsteen et Fils) is specialised in the export of potatoes (and onions) for the fresh market to all Europe and Middle East with about 50 000 t per year.

Wecxsteen Distribution is the commercial structure dedicated to the French market. It is trading 5000 t of potatoes to foodservices and stores per year.

In 1997 the WIP (Wecxsteen Industry Potatoes) was founded to meet the specific needs of the processing industry with about 100 000 t (international market).
In 1999, the “Comptoir du Plant” was created for the seed potatoes business. 400ha of seed potatoes are produced in the Northern part of France. Over 10 000t of seed potatoes are sold each year. Three trial fields are set up to select the best varieties to meet the future market expectations.

More info:

QUALIPOM’NORD: an open air exhibition, especially dedicated to potato


With 1500 to 2000 visitors, organized each 2 years, this exhibition gather, on a same place, all the actors of the potato sector of Nord-Pas de Calais area, under the aegis of the Comité technique Pomme de terre. 


The Chambre d’Agriculture and many partners implement this exhibition with the aim to show technical innovations to producers and also to improve sharing information.

This exhibition presents a lot of field trials, an exhibitors village, a selected varieties window, exhibition equipments or demonstration models, stocking equipment and building, and also decision implement in the service of producers.


Beyond the technical point, the professionals in charge for this exhibition are motivated by general main lines. They are conscious of necessity for potato sector to be profitable, but also of necessity to answer to society demand by turning producers, in this kind of exhibition, towards:

  • To produce more and better
  • To produce with less plant protection products
  • To reduce energy use
  • To maintain the biodiversity
  • To favour agronomy, soil protection and biodiversity
  • To protect water resources
  • To control production, conservation and sale wasting
  • To make known differently the potato actors

Cultural visit

Vimy and Notre Dame de Lorette: Memorial visits




Vimy Ridge National Memorial: «  Modern Canada was born in the trenches of Vimy”. The memorial stands at the heart of a park overlooking the Pas-de-Calais coal basin. The memorial, with its magnificent pylons and sculptured (6000 t of limestone) was built at the place where, on 9 April 1917, Canadia troops fighting under the standard of the maple leaf captured Vimy Ridge known as Hill 145 or “The Pimple”. Around the monument, the ground is pock marked with shell holes, mine craters and trenches.



French National War Cemetery and the Ring of Remembrance, the Memorial international, are located at Notre de Dame de Lorette. In May 1915, French troops attempted to wrest control of the Artois Hills from the German Army, they failed at Vimy Ridge but succeeded in retaking Lorette Spur, at cost of 102 000 men. The cemetery is the final resting place for 40 000 French troops, including 22 000 unknown soldiers.On the ring of Remembrance, the names of 580 000 soldiers of all nationalities who fell in French Flanders and Artois are inscribed in alphabetical order.

Nearby, an overview will also be made on Souchez Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery with 7655 commonwealth burial of the Great War, German Military Cemetery of Neuville-st-Vaast, Neuville-St Vaast Memorial to Polish Volunteers, Czechoslovak Memorial … 

Web sites




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