Ireland hosts the World Potato Congress (WPC) in Dublin between May 30 and June 2 this year.
The latest Tillage Edge podcast features a preview of the event.
Potatoes are the world’s third most important crop, after wheat and rice. There are over 300 million tonnes of potatoes produced annually, consumed by over one billion people worldwide.
The international potato industry spends a lot of money every year on research and development. So it is important that these developments are communicated to the widest possible audience.
The upcoming congress will attract delegates from Europe, North America, South America and Asia.
Teagasc’s Michael Hennessy spoke to Liam Glennon, from the Irish Potato Federation, about the significance of the event. Teagasc potato breeder Denis Griffin also took part in the podcast.
According to Glennon, there had been a strong commitment from all stakeholder organisations to push for the 2021 WPC, as far back as 2017.
“The event seemed tailormade for the country even back then,” he said.
“Covid-19 put paid to the event happening in 2021. However, it was subsequently agreed that Ireland would retain the right to host a WPC at the earliest opportunity.
“This is why we are gathering at the RDS in Dublin at the end of this month.”
Glennon referred at length to the history of the potato in Ireland, referencing – in particular – the impact of The Great Famine.
Ireland fought off competition from a number of countries, including Australia and the Netherlands, in order to secure Dublin’s hosting of the WPC.
The focus of the event is to bring the global potato community together. The overarching theme for 2022 is the ‘changing world of the potato’.
Denis Griffin confirmed that Ireland’s agriculture minister, Charlie McConalogue will be present at the official opening of the WPC, adding:
“The EU’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, will give an address on the EU’s new Green Deal.
“A major boost for the conference will be the attendance of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Director General QU Dongyu.
“He will be officially opening the event with an address that will put the potato in context as a driver of food production around the world.”
According to Griffin there is a huge interest in developing countries regarding the possibility of using the potato to deliver food security.
“With a resurgence in plant-based diets, it is very probable that we will see a significant growth in potato consumption throughout the developed world as well,” he said.