World Potato Congress: more than 1,000 delegates present

More than 1,000 delegates and 60 guest speakers are expected to attend the World Potato Congress (WPC) at the end of the month, which will be held in Ireland for the first time.

The 11th WPC will take place from May 30 to June 2 at the RDS in Dublin and will hear guest speakers and experts from around the world share their knowledge and views on the industry.

There will be three full days of presentations and discussions on key issues dominating the industry, such as international trade, sustainability and nutrition. The fourth day of the event will see delegates visit a number of potato farms across the country.

Over 60 speakers will take part in the event, including EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski, Dr QU Dongyu, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and Professor Paul Struik, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Topics will include the role of the potato in a changing world; the impact of the war in Ukraine on the global potato industry; potato research in sustainability; and fresh produce consumption trends. There will also be a presentation by Canadian motivational speaker Chris Koch.

The Irish Potato Federation (IPF) competed with several other countries in 2018 to win the right to host this year’s four-day event. To date, the WPC has taken place on all seven continents, with previous host countries including Canada, China, Peru, the United States and New Zealand.

The event was originally scheduled to take place in 2021 but was postponed due to covid-19 restrictions. However, IPF President Michael Hoey said the delay presented opportunities to make the event even better:

“In many ways, the event has become even more relevant as the global agribusiness industry grapples with issues such as food safety, global supply chain issues and the continued trend towards systems more sustainable food production.

Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue welcomed the opportunity to host a unique event such as the WPC and said it was “a great privilege for the ‘Ireland”.

“To see world potato industry leaders come to Ireland is a testament to the industry we have here. The potato industry has undergone changes and challenges over the past few years, but at the heart of our sector’s success is our commitment to quality and our dedication to excellence.

“The World Potato Congress provides an excellent opportunity for global potato professionals of all kinds to come together to do business and benefit from shared learnings.”

Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia, stressed that the potato has long been synonymous with Ireland and that the opportunity to host such a prestigious event will allow Ireland to showcase its knowledge and expertise in potato production.

“It will be an opportunity to leverage networking opportunities for knowledge transfer and sharing between countries, which is invaluable at a time when the agribusiness sector is facing immense challenges of sustainability, inflation and global supply chain issues,” she concluded.