By Rory Reynolds
CASH-STRAPPED students are being offered thousands of pounds to work on farms this summer amid fears that a manpower shortage could threaten Scotland’s massive tattie industry.
Tattie pickers – or potato-roguers – are being offered up to £3,500 to work from June to August to roam Scotland’s 27,000 acres of potato crops looking for diseased plants and dodgy potatoes.
The roguers must first pass an eight day course at the Scottish Agricultural College in Aberdeen to ensure that they are up to the job.
But course organiser Ken Rundle reckons that the tempting tatties are the perfect answer to the credit crunch.
He said: “The job attracts all sorts, from those for whom it is an outdoor working holiday, to cash strapped-students – there have even been marriages that began in the tattie drills.
“Growers plant specially selected virus-tested tubers in fields that have not grown potatoes for at least five years.
“They continue to fuss over them as they grow, using every possible technique to avoid attack from fungus, bacteria or virus.
“Then, in the summer, they call in the roguers.”
Mr Rundle also emphasised the opportunities available after working in Scotland’s potato industry, well-known around the world for its high-quality products.
“They learn how to spot the wrong variety and a case of blackleg or virus mosaic at a hundred paces.
“Then roguers have a skill they can use for years, with perhaps a short refresher course to upgrade them.
“Whatever their reasons for being there, all the teams play an invaluable role in an industry worth £215 million to Scotland.”