In 1993, the first World Potato Congress (WPC) was held in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. This first congress became the launchpad for what has become 30 years of triennial congresses and trade shows, providing networking opportunities to potato industry representatives from around the world.

In its current governance format, the WPC functions as a nonprofit organization operated by an elected volunteer board of 10 international directors. The WPC board receives additional guidance from a group of eight appointed international advisors, who are respected by the board as having the pulse of the potato industry within their regions of the world.

As we look back on this thirtieth anniversary, we see how the WPC has evolved into much more than just holding the (now biennial) congress. Recognizing that the potato is the third most important food crop globally, it’s feeding communities and providing much needed income for farmers across all nations. Over the years, partnerships between WPC and various countries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been formed to collaborate on addressing food insecurity. These relationships include the bringing together of global knowledge, resources and expertise, which in turn provides educational opportunities in such areas as seed production, pest and disease management, and the potato value chains. WPC has also added, through funding of sustaining partners, scholarship opportunities for delegates to attend the congress. Success stories are shared on the WPC website and include reach into Ethiopia, China, Philippines, Kenya, Peru, and more. Through additional initiatives by the Irish Aid, funding was offered for over 40 delegates to attend the 2022 congress.

WPC President Peter VanderZaag notes that “fostering partnerships allows combining experiential, communications and financial resources to assist in our goal of greater food security for those vulnerable environments caused by war, climate change or other extraordinary circumstances. We are not just engaging the NGO’s, we are engaging a group of Sustaining Partners whose funding provides supports to these global issues being addressed by WPC.”

Over nine months of the year, virtual educational opportunities exist via WPC webinars initiated by WPC Vice-President Nora Olsen. Topics cover all sectors of the potato value chain including pest and diseases, production, and marketing and are presented by a globally diverse group of experts. Examples of recent speakers include one of our international advisors, Julio Kalazich, an agronomy professor at Universidad le Los Lagos in Chile speaking on potato breeding programs in the South American cone countries, Alison Lees, a potato pathologist at The James Hutton Institute on potato skin blemish diseases, International Transport and the Global Potato Value Chain by EasyFresh and World Potato Output and Trade by Cedric Porter with World Potato Markets. We look forward to a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) discussion panel in May, led by WPC Director and Board Secretary Nigel Crump of Australia. Many more can be found on the WPC website.  Directors Jaap Delleman, chief editorial director for Potato World Magazine and André Devaux, a scientist emeritus at the International Potato Center, will be carrying this initiative forward in 2023.

Devaux and other directors also work closely on behalf of WPC with various international bodies including the UNECE and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on various initiatives, most recently formulating a proposal which, if approved by, will launch the first ever International Potato Day.

As we look ahead to the next congress and trade show, WPC is excited to see the programming come together for Adelaide, Australia in June, 2024. The planning and programming has ramped up for this event over the past few weeks, and is expected to include a two to three day tour through the South Australia potato country post-congress.

WPC looks forward to welcoming you to Australia in June 2024. For more information on the Congress, webinars, and our sustaining partner program visit our website.

Past congresses have included:

  • P.E.I. in 1993
  • Harrogate, UK in 1994
  • Durban, South Africa in 1997
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2000
  • Kunming, China in 2004
  • Boise, Idaho in 2006
  • Christchurch, New Zealand in 2009
  • Edinburgh, Scotland in 2012
  • Yanqing, China in 2015
  • Cusco, Peru in 2018
  • Dublin, Ireland in 2022
  • Adelaide, Australia in 2024

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