CIP was one of the institutions especially invited by Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the address given by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, during his official visit to Peru, on February 10. It was Our Deputy Director General for Research and Development, Dr. Óscar Ortiz, who expressed the protocol greeting and our institution’s thanks for the support received from Ireland.
Ireland’s cooperation with CIP dates back a good many years. Through its development cooperation agency, Irish AID, the country is funding projects for potato and sweetpotato breeding in Africa, mainly in Malawi and Ethiopia.
“Ireland’s contribution is very important because it enables us to carry out research for development using the potato and sweetpotato to reduce malnutrition, increase the incomes of poor farmers, and altogether improve food security in Africa”, said Dr. Ortiz at the end of the ceremony.
The potato is of great historical significance for Ireland. Between 1845 and 1849, the Irish Potato Famine occurred, due to the sudden appearance of late blight that decimated the potato fields. This crop was the main food eaten by the poorer families at that time. More than two million people are believed to have died from the famine, which also led to a mass exodus from the country. Although it had devastating economic and political effects, in biological terms it gave rise to the beginnings of modern phytopathology, thanks to the discoveries made about the Phytophthora infestans that causes the disease.
This is the first time for an Irish president to visit Peru. The visit aims to reinforce diplomatic ties and cooperation between the two countries. The address delivered by President Higgins was entitled “An indispensable way of seeing things: Roger Casement’s legacy to mankind in his humanitarian and universal vision,” where he highlighted the figure of this Irish diplomat as a defender of human rights, in particular those of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Region and of the Congo.