The Spud Diaries – Entry 13 – The Top Spud Comes to Town

The Spud Diaries – Entry 13 – The Top Spud Comes to Town


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TOP SPUD: President of Peru, Martin Vizcarra gets up close with a native potato on his visit to the World Potato Congress in Cusco.

TOP SPUD: President of Peru, Martin Vizcarra gets up close with a native potato on his visit to the World Potato Congress in Cusco.

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It's high security and polished shoes at the World Potato Congress as the president of Peru pops in.

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DISASTER strikes on the first day of the World Potato Congress.

The ball comes out of my deodorant applicator. It could be an altitude pressure thing.

Before contacting the Australian Embassy for help though, I assess the situation and manage to fix it.

Though they mightn't know it, Congress delegates have been saved from Australian body odour.

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The WPC has attracted between 800 and 900 people from 50 different nations. There are a lot of different languages being spoken as I make my way into the main auditorium at the Centro Convenciones Cusco.

Security is heavy, including police with riot shields. You'll have to take my word for this as I didn't attempt to take a photograph.

The reason for the heavy presence is that the president of Peru, Martin Vizcarra, is coming to open the Congress, along with several other political heavies.

It's a tremendous show of support for the Peruvian potato industry.

It makes me wonder if an Australian horticulture conference or meeting would draw such political significance?

Without upsetting anyone, it seems to have become tradition to have the "Minister for…" or even "Assistant Minister for…" to do the opening task.

It's something for all those hort bodies back home to think about anyway.

With the president comes a massive media contingent, which can't help but focus on potatoes. It's great coverage and the Congress starts trending on Twitter, which is big plus for organisers.

From the opening speaker sessions, certain themes emerge. It is clear that potatoes have more to offer the world than they currently do, and they already offer so much.

DISASTER: The plastic ball came out of the deodorant applicator, possible due to the change in pressure, putting all congress attendees at risk of BO stink-out.

DISASTER: The plastic ball came out of the deodorant applicator, possible due to the change in pressure, putting all congress attendees at risk of BO stink-out.

Collaboration between public and private research organisations , between government and private businesses, and between growers themselves, is strongly indicated as the way forward.

It sets the stage for what is sure to be an interesting few days.

The Mayor of Cusco, Luis Flórez, takes a few moments to basically spell out every Peruvian potato dish prepared in the region, and how it's made.

"We eat it with the skin on and a little dirt. We love our potatoes and we love our Inca past," he said.

Perhaps my favourite line is not potato-related at all but comes from the president of the World Potato Congress, the man with almost a rapper's name, Romain Cools.

He's upbeat in his welcome and encourages everyone to engage with each other and make the most of it.

He rounds off his speech with: "May the force be with you."

I suspect he may have recently seen the new Star Wars movie, Solo, but I don't get the chance to confirm this.

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  • Ashley Walmsley travelled to Peru with assistance from the Crawford Fund and with financial support from DFAT Council on Australia Latin America Relations.​ 
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