SUSTAINABILITY, biodiversity, food safety and business generation are the major themes being explored at the 10th World Potato Congress which started in Cusco, Peru this week.
While Peru is regarded as the home of the commercialisation of potato production, it is the first time the country has hosted the Congress.
More than 800 scientists, researchers and businessmen from 50 countries, including Australia, have come together to meet in Cusco to talk about biodiversity, food security and business generation around the tuber.
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In a boost for both the Congress and the potato’s profile itself, Peruvian president, Martin Vizcarra, officially opened the event.
In his address, Mr Vizcarra highlighted just how much of a critical crop potatoes are to his country with 10 per cent of the total population living on potato crops.
"The potato is linked to the history of Peru, the history of a complex, diverse, extensive country, of many realities, but in all regions the potato is grown, and that reality represented in the potato that manifests the diversity of Peru,” he said.
“It forces us to work in a decentralised way, thinking about what the country and its regions require, taking care of their needs.”
Several speakers reiterated that the potato is considered the third most important crop in the world, behind grain and rice.
Peru boasts the widest variety of potatoes with more than 3000 types of native potatoes.
The event is also hosting the 28th Congress of the Latin American Potato Association (ALAP). The WPC is held every three years at the international level.
Previous editions took place in China, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Canada and the United States, among other countries.
In the past 15 years, per capita consumption of potatoes in Peru has gone from 60kg to 85kg, as a result of different alliances between the public and private sectors that have helped to strengthen the value chain, in which the key participants are the small producers.
National Potato Day (May 30) will also be celebrated while the Congress is on to be held on May 30, with more than 200 varieties of native potato to be exhibited with farmers talking about their crop.
- Ashley Walmsley travelled to Peru with assistance from the Crawford Fund and with financial support from DFAT Council on Australia Latin America Relations.