That 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 first time that the Congress will be held in Latin America.
The 9th World Potato Congress is about to take place in Beijing, China, on July 28-30. Previous congresses have been held in North America, Europe, South Africa and New Zealand. Wells will accompany Peruvian authorities in a ceremony at the Beijing WPC on July 29, when Peru will officially accept the honor of hosting the next Congress.
The 10th World Potato Congress is expected to attract more than 800 potato scientists and industry representatives from around the world. It will be held in the Peruvian city of Cusco, high in the Andes. The former capital of the Incan empire, Cusco lies in a region where people have been growing potatoes for thousands of years.
Peru’s designation as host was the result of a six-month nomination and lobbying process that included site evaluations by a team from WPC Inc. 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.”
Maurer observed that while Peru’s potato heritage played an important role in its proposal, WPC representatives were also interested in what Peru is doing with its potatoes today. They were impressed by the fact that Peru is Latin America’s top potato producer, and its promotion of native potatoes and potato products internationally. He added that there was initial concern about Peru’s capacity to organize such an event, but the WPC board was assured by the country’s successful hosting of the UN Climate Change Conference COP20 in December 2014.
“This is the result of a long process and very good team work,” Maurer said. He explained that the team that nominated Peru, and will help organize the event, includes representatives of CIP, INIA, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Peru’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, and its leading agronomy university: the Universidad Agraria.
On the last day of the 2018 Congress, delegates will be able to participate in field trips to INIA’s Andenes Experimental Station, where native potatoes are cultivated on Incan terraces, or the Potato Park, where six indigenous communities are working to preserve native potato biodiversity and cultural practices. The closing dinner and awards ceremony will be held at Cusco’s Coricancha: an Incan temple that Spanish authorities converted into a Catholic church during the colonial era.
“We think that this will be a great opportunity to show the world all that Peru has to offer,” said Maurer. “We’re going to start working now to ensure that this will be the best Congress in the event’s history.”