Winnipeg is gearing up to host the annual gathering of North America’s premier potato research organization this summer.
The 103rdannual meeting of the Potato Association of America will take place July 28 to Aug. 1 at the Delta Hotel in downtown Winnipeg, Man. It’s never been held in Manitoba before, and organizers are looking forward to hosting what’s considered the premier educational event for the North American potato industry.
“It’s the most academic type of potato meeting that we have, and it tends to be the event of the year in North America for potato researchers,” says Darin Gibson, who’s president of the Manitoba-based potato and vegetable research firm, Gaia Consulting Ltd., and a member of the organizing committee for the 2019 PAA annual meeting.
“It’s the first time it’s ever been here in the history of PAA which goes back over 100 years, so it’s a big deal for our industry and our province,” Gibson says. “I think it’s a real feather in the cap of the Manitoba potato industry to have it here.”
Vikram Bisht, an industry development specialist, potato and horticultural crop pests, with ManitobaAgriculture, is co-chair of the PAA meeting organizing committee. He says the event will showcase whatManitoba is doing in the potato sector “and how we have a huge processing industry and also a very strong fresh market industry. We are a very important player in Canadian potato production.”
A non-profit organization dedicated to promoting potato health and use worldwide, the PAA has more than 500 members. They’re primarily from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Latin America but another 30 countries are also represented in the PAA membership.
It’s hoped that more than 250 PAA members will attend this year’s meeting in Winnipeg, says Bisht, adding there will be people coming from all the major potato-producing nations in Europe and Asia, including the Netherlands, India and China. “It attracts people from all over the world,” he says.
The PAA conference, which typically touches on a broad range of topics including plant breeding, crop protection, agronomy, and potato utilization and marketing, offers updates on the latest research developments as well as presentations from industry representatives. One of the feature events at this year’s meeting in Winnipeg is a symposium on Changes and Challenges in the Potato Marketing Sectors.
Gibson says PAA annual meetings he’s attended in the past were all definitely worthwhile. “I know I’ve found them very beneficial for meeting with colleagues and discussing research that we’re all conducting and learning new things,” he says.
Bisht says while PAA annual meetings are mostly held in the United States, they do come to Canada every four to six years. The last one hosted in Canada was in Quebec City, Que., in 2013.
Bisht says those attending the 2019 PAA annual meeting will get to see what the city known as the “Gateway to the West” has to offer visitors.
“Winnipeg is known for many unique historic places like the Exchange District, The Forks and the Canadian Human Rights Museum, so there are very good places to visit,” he says, adding that during the conference, time will be set aside for a trip to the city’s Assiniboine Park Zoo to see the acclaimed polar bear exhibit. This year’s PAA meeting will also feature a tour of the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centrein Winnipeg.
More information on the 2019 PAA annual meeting agenda, registration, and accompanying persons program can be found at paaevents.org.
Editor’s Note: Don’t miss PAA meeting coverage in upcoming issues of Spud Smart.