Here’s a photo I took of Ron D. Offutt of Fargo, attending a potato field day at the World Potato Congress in Boise, Idaho, in 2006. At right is Gary Secor, a North Dakota State University plant pathologist, and to the left is Neil Gudmestad, an NDSU colleague. (By the way, this photo was picked up for a painting as part of Offutt’s Rough Rider Award, and is in the main hall at the state capitol.)
I see Dr. Barbara H. Wells, director general of CIP, the International Potato Centre, in Peru, is the latest to be announced a speaker at the World Potato Congress in Beijing, China, July 28-30 in Beijing. Wells will speak on “The Role of the Potato for Global Food Security,” an issue that I think is too often overlooked. Wells grew up in Peru and Bolivia and has a passion to improve the livelihoods of the world’s poor farmers.
I’ve attended two of the World Potato Congress events since coming to Agweek and both were fascinating. They’re held every few years and sponsored by a non-profit organization — the world’s premier potato conferences. The first I attended was in Boise, Idaho, in 2006, and the next was in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2012. In both cases, people in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota attended or were speakers. We have some world-class people here. Neil Gudmestad, a plant pathologist at North Dakota State University, spoke in Scotland and colleague Gary Secor was in Boise, where Ron D. Offutt of Fargo, received an international award.
The Chinese conference includes a tours to places like China’s famous Xisen mini-tuber production base, a potato museum, the SnowValley Agricultural Development Co., as well as storage, chip processing, machinery and planting patterns displays, as well as tours focusing on new variety and technology.
Speakers include the chairman of the Potato Association of China, talking about sustainable development of the Chinese production, as well as the president of the China Agricultural University, talking about the bigger picture for that country.
So often North American farmers are told about how the world is getting set to produce food for 9 billion consumers, up from the current 7 billion. More and more U.S. potato products will find a home in Asian markets. If you or your company are into potatoes, I’m thinking Beijing would be a fascinating place to learn more about it. Maybe the best place in the world.