The 43rd session of the FAO Conference, held in Rome, witnessed a significant moment for potato professionals worldwide. The World Potato Congress (WPC) was not only honored with an invitation, but also took the opportunity to emphasize the global importance of the potato.
Spotlight on Biodiversity and Global Importance
André Devaux, WPC Director, delivered a compelling address at a side event organized by the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture (MIDAGRI). The event, titled “Photographic Exhibition: The Biodiversity of Potatoes and Its Contribution to Food Security and the Global Economy”, saw participation from esteemed personalities including FAO Director General, Dr. Qu Dongyu, Ambassador Eduardo Martinetti of Peru, and Mr. Christian Barrantes, Vice Minister of MIDAGRI, Peru.
Championing the International Potato Day
The event’s primary focus was to shed light on the potato’s value in ensuring food and nutritional security, promoting sustainable agriculture, and preserving food diversity. Moreover, it accentuated the potato’s potential in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in hunger eradication. The gathering also served as a platform to champion the International Potato Day (IPD) resolution, which received approval during the FAO conference.
Collaborative Efforts for a Global Celebration
For the past two years, the WPC has been at the forefront, collaborating with FAO and an international coalition of countries, including Peru, Ireland, Canada, Belgium, Australia, and China. Their collective efforts are inching closer to the formal resolution of celebrating International Potato Day on May 30th annually. The final nod for this initiative is anticipated during the UN General Assembly meetings in New York this September.
The Potato’s Potential in Global Agriculture
The potato, often considered a humble crop, is now being recognized for its adaptability and resilience. As global challenges like climate change, pandemics, and economic fluctuations become more prevalent, the importance of sustainable and efficient crops like the potato becomes paramount.
As Director Devaux stated, “The potato is a resilient crop. With a short maturity, it is one of the most productive food crops in terms of yield of edible energy and proteins per unit of area and unit of time. It is adaptable to various agro-ecological conditions and can be cultivated at sea level as well as at more than 4000m altitude. The potato crop requires much less water than other food crops such wheat, rice and corn. It is as high-quality food with rich and balanced nutrition, and it plays a dual role in family farming economy providing first food for home consumption and, as a cash crop, providing incomes.”
A Unified Vision for the Future
The efforts of the WPC, in conjunction with various international organizations and countries, underscore the collective vision of a world where the potato is celebrated not just as a staple food but as a symbol of global unity and sustainability. The push for an International Potato Day is more than just a celebration; it’s a movement towards recognizing the role of agriculture in global development and the potato’s place at the forefront of this change.
Engaging the Potato Community
As preparations for the International Potato Day 2024 gain momentum, the WPC encourages potato professionals, farmers, researchers, and enthusiasts to join in the celebrations. Workshops, seminars, and exhibitions are expected to be organized globally, offering a platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration.
The 43rd session of the FAO Conference in Rome was not just an event but a testament to the growing significance of the potato in the global arena. As the WPC continues its endeavors, the world watches with anticipation, marking the calendar for May 30, 2024, a day that promises to be a milestone in the history of the potato industry.
Source: World Potato Congress Inc. (WPC)
Photo: From left to right: Mr. Julio Eduardo Martinetti, Dr. Qu Dongyu, Dr. André Devaux and Mr. Christian Barrantes visiting the potato exhibition at the Conference in Rome