23 Mar 2009

Conference hears prediction of increased potato demand

1:48 pm on 23 March 2009

The chair of the World Potato Congress, being held in New Zealand, says producers will need to be ready to meet increased international demand and New Zealand in particular has room to do so.

The seventh congress opened in Chirstchurch on Monday - the first time the event has been held in New Zealand.

Canadian potato grower Allan Parker, who is chairing the congress, is growing potatoes in Russia because of the opportunities there to expand production.

He says New Zealand also has good opportunities to increase potato exports. The world's biggest producer of potatoes is China.

The last congress was held in Idaho in the United States and this is the first time the event has come to New Zealand.

Expert on Maori potatoes to visit South America

Meanwhile, Nick Roskruge from Massey University, an expert on Maori potatoes, met the Peruvian delegation to the congress over the weekend to finalise plans for his trip to South America for this year's harvest season.

Mr Roskruge, who chairs the Maori organic growers collective Tahuri Whenua, told Waatea News the visit will explore whether the two countries grow similar varieties, and whether there is a language connection over the names of the potatoes.

He says the Peruvians take seriously their role preserving the birthplace of the humble tuber.