The World Potato Congress, the pinnacle event within potato industries across the globe, is being held in Edinburgh, Scotland from 27-30 May.
“If there was such a thing as the United Nations of potato industries, this would surely be the event given that it attracts potato industry leaders from around the world,” said AUSVEG Manager – Special Projects, Christopher Ritchie.
AUSVEG is the National Peak Industry Body for Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.
The World Potato Congress, which was first held in 1993, takes place every three years with the aim of bringing together individuals from potato industries in both developing and developed countries to share information, network and discuss issues of mutual concern.
“The event is an invaluable opportunity for attendees to compare and contrast the practices and policies of their own country with those of other nations,” said Mr Ritchie.
“Given Australia’s relative geographic isolation from other potato producing nations, and the fact we are ranked 35th internationally in terms of potato production, the World Potato Congress is an important forum through which we can glean information for our own industry’s improvement. The knowledge gained spans across international research and technological advancements, market developments, global and consumer trends, and ways to eliminate pests and diseases,” said Mr Ritchie.
Among the Congress speakers – which include researchers and leading industry officials from the U.K., U.S.A., New Zealand, South Africa, The Netherlands, Canada and China – will be Australia’s Dr Kevin Clayton-Greene and Dr Doris Blaesing who will lead discussions on plant health, diseases and pests, and resource use efficiency respectively.
“One of the most anticipated presentations is that from Scotland’s Dr John Kerr who will examine the role that seed certification plays to produce healthy and profitable potatoes and the development of an on-line database for seed suppliers. Another distinguished speaker is Stephanie Race from the San Francisco-based Earth Analytics Group, who will discuss how satellite technology can be used as a crop monitoring systems to help growers improve agronomy practices and make more efficient use of resources,” said Mr Ritchie.
Other topics which will be discussed include: food security and water supplies, how the potato can be a health-enhancing food and help to combat obesity, ways in which the supply chain can meet carbon reduction targets, consumer trends during the global economic downturn, the potential of the potato genome, and emerging markets.
Importantly, attendees on an AUSVEG led growers’ tour to Belgium and the UK will head to Scotland for the World Potato Congress as the highlight of their programme. The tour is funded by Horticulture Australia Limited levies raised from the potato industry together with matching funds from the Australian Government.
“Australian growers in attendance will be a part of a world-class event and gain invaluable experience, which they can then pass on to their fellow countrymen and co-workers upon their return to Australia,” said Mr Ritchie.