Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has officially opened the 11th World Potato Congress (WPC) under the theme ‘The Changing World of the Potato’ at the RDS venue in Dublin today (Monday, May 30).

Minister McConalogue welcomed European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski and Dr. QU Dongyu, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), who will speak at the congress.

Referring to the changing and challenging world of the Irish potato sector, Minister McConalogue, at the official opening of the congress, said:

“Ireland is synonymous with the potato. It’s part of our history, our very identity. No food or item has left such an indelible mark on the identity of people than the potato has done in Ireland.”

The minister said the Irish potato sector is one of the most technologically developed in the world, with a cohort of professional growers and packers who supply premium local food to consumers.

The congress will cover key issues in the industry today including international trade; sustainability; food security; consumer trends; health and nutrition; innovation; and development. 

The four-day event will feature more than 60 speakers and is set to be attended by over 1000 delegates from over 60 countries. The department has provided €100,000 in funding to enable 50 delegates from developing countries to attend the WPC.

Minister McConalogue said this provides unique networking opportunities and the platform to share knowledge, enabling businesses across the world to work together and create more sustainable communities.

The department has an exhibition at the WPC that highlights its work supporting Ireland’s high plant-health status, the development and protection of potato varieties, and its long-term commitment to supporting developing countries.

Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Pippa Hackett said:

“The 11th WPC provides an opportunity for collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst global potato professionals. Some of the learnings shared across this week will help contribute to our climate and sustainability goals.”

Minister McConalogue and the minister of state last week announced funding of €3m to support the seed potato sector in recognition of the challenges faced by farmers in the industry.