CIP Shines at the World Potato Congress
The International Potato Center’s (CIP) presence is being felt at the World Potato Congress (WPC). Not only was Barbara Wells, CIP director general, a keynote speaker at the 9th WPC in Beijing last July, but Peru is poised to host the next congress in 2018. Scientists and industry leaders from all sides of the potato production and processing spectrum attend the congress. More than 800 attendees made the trek to Beijing and a similar number is expected to attend the next congress in Peru.
“We have a tool in the potato to fight hunger and under-nutrition and lift people out of poverty,” Wells said in her speech as she encouraged participants to find synergies between the public and private spheres to provide pro-poor varieties of potatoes and market opportunities to the more than 1 billion people living on less than a dollar a day.
“What is different in 2015 is the playing field for potato has changed,” Wells said. “The world is producing and consuming potatoes more than ever before. The opportunities to provide pro‐poor varieties and technologies where potato already exists are clear.”
Wells challenged attendees to work together to “connect the dots between what you do and these opportunities. No matter what your role in the industry is, there is a place for you to contribute to food security around the world.
The triennial event is organized by the non-profit World Potato Congress (WPC) Inc., which is dedicated to supporting the global growth and development of the potato. The designation of Peru as host country marks the WPC’s first congress on Latin American soil. It will be held in the Peruvian city of Cusco. The former capital of the Incan empire, Cusco lies in a region where people have been growing potatoes for thousands of years.
CIP played an important role in that effort as one of six institutions in a team that convinced the WPC board to choose Peru. CIP researcher Miguel Ordinola, who represented CIP in that process, explained that Peru’s selling points included the fact that it lies within the potato’s center of origin and holds the world’s greatest potato biodiversity, with approximately 3,000 varieties.
“This is an opportunity for Peru to show its potato biodiversity to the world,” he said. “Those native potatoes hold solutions for many of the problems that potato farmers face around the world.”