The potato of the future will be more drought tolerant and disease resistant, more environmentally sustainable and climate smart, and meet the needs of producers and consumers. It will add value and help drive the transformation of international food systems. And China’s role in driving this process will be vital.
Highlighting the versatility of the potato, Barbara H. Wells, Director General of the International Potato Center (CIP), spoke about its potential to address global challenges and drive inclusive sustainable economic growth during the forum that opened the 2019 China International Potato in Beijing. “It can be grown in a wide range of agro-ecologies, requires less land and water than other major crops to produce similar amounts of food, and can be used to develop a range of other innovative products, from noodles to plastic bags,” she said.
As the world grapples with the challenges posed by climate change and rapidly increasing populations, the potato can be part of sustainable food systems that generate income for farmers, provide nutrients that reduce anemia and stunting and help recuperate degraded resources.
“More than 15 billion US dollars are generated annually through global trade in potato, and the potential for sustainable growth, particularly in Central Asia and Africa, is significant,” Wells said.
In a speech that largely centered on the ‘potato of the future’, she based the auspicious forecast on achievements made with targeted scientific research. “New advances in crop conservation, genomics and improved data analysis are enhancing our ability to use agrobiodiversity for the development of more productive, resilient varieties that the future demands,” she explained.
Wells also congratulated Qu Dongyu—who is China’s Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, a CIP Trustee for the last three years and potato expert—on his recent election as the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Today the China International Potato Expo, now in its tenth edition, closes its two days of exhibitions, forums and seminars on an array of topics under the theme of “Let the World Hear the Voice of Potato”. CIP’s “Imagine a world without potatoes” campaign featured largely for the more than 4,000 participants from China and countries around the world.