Highlights: September-December

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Peru celebrates "bread of the Andes"

La papa, pan del mundo Andino - or, "Potato: Bread of the Andean world" - is the title of an exhibition at Lima's Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia that runs until 31 December. On display are exhibits on the potato's pre- and post-Columbian history, its biodiversity, nutritional value and role in Andean culture, and a series of paintings of Andean farmers by Japanese artist Tadayuki Noguchi.


Government leads celebrations in Nepal

To organize IYP celebrations in Nepal, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has created a committee representing the ministries of health and water resources, departments of agriculture and food technology, the National Agriculture Research Council and the National Potato Development Programme. Activities will include TV spots, school essay contests, and regional trade fairs in Narayanghat, Dhulikhel and Pokhara.


Festival at heart of China's potato industry

The city of Guyuan, in the mountainous Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of northwest China, hosts in September the country's biggest annual potato fair. Guyuan and surrounding rural counties are the centre of China's rapidly expanding potato industry, with production of more than 2.5 million tonnes a year. The city's 2 000 potato processing companies ship potato products throughout China and to markets in Japan, South America and Europe.

5-21 September

Art-bulba exhibition in Minsk

Belarus' State University of Culture is organizing in the capital, Minsk, an art exhibition dedicated to the bulba. "It must be true art when people grow plants purely for pleasure," says the university's gallery director. "Just as the Japanese enjoy watching cherry trees blossom, Belarusians love to plant potatoes in May and dig them up in September". Belarusians eat more potatoes per head than any other country - an estimated 337 kg a year.

5-7 September

57th Posen Potato Festival

Polish immigrants who settled in the town of Posen, in the US state of Michigan, brought with them their national passion for potatoes, which grow well in the area's deep, sandy soils. For more than 50 years, the end of the harvest season has been celebrated at the Posen potato festival which features free concerts, children's entertainment, a potato cooking contest and selection of the Miss Posen beauty queen.

6 September

World Festival of Sautéed Potatoes

Gourmets from Europe and the USA will attend the 8th World Festival of Sautéed Potatoes to be held in Crna na Koroškem, in northern Slovenia. The annual event brings together cooking teams who pan-fry tonnes of potatoes with a variety of ingredients, including goose liver, ostrich, sour cream and walnuts. The festival is hosted by a Slovenian association dedicated to enjoyment of the country's national dish, pražen krompir. (details here...)

10-11 September

PotatoEurope 2008

Billed as Europe's "most significant potato industry convention", PotatoEurope 2008 will be held in Villers-Saint-Christophe, northern France, on 10 and 11 September. More than 3 000 visitors are expected for the event, which features workshops on potato genetic resources, agronomy, soil conservation, crop optimization and sustainability, and demonstrations of innovative harvesting and post-harvest technologies.

11-21 September

Sagra della patata in Lombardy

In Italy's rural areas, September is the time for festivals (or sagre) that celebrate the fruits of the agricultural year. In potato-growing areas, visitors and locals get together in village piazzas for concerts, antique markets and sporting events, all accompanied by tasty potato dishes, such as gnocchi. One of the oldest running potato harvest festivals has been held since 1968 in the town of Oreno, in Lombardy.

13 September

Potato dumplings celebrated in Thuringia

The German state of Thuringia is famous for its potato dumplings and the potato dumpling museum which opened in 1999 in the town of Heichelheim. In September, the Heichelheimer Potato Foundation will host the state's annual potato festival, where celebrities will harvest tubers, and visitors can enjoy a range of attractions, including a photography exhibition, a competition for the longest potato peel - and lots of potato dumplings.

19-21 September

A potato-shaped hot air balloon

The annual Spokane ValleyFest in the US state of Washington will honour the potato with a variety of activities, including the launching of a potato-shaped hot-air balloon and a community "hunger run" to raise money for the Spokane Valley Food Bank. The Washington Potato Commission is donating half a tonne of potatoes for sale at the festival. In 2007, Washington's potato harvest was 4.6 million tonnes, a quarter of total national output.


Potato harvest day in Anatolia

With its hot, dry summers and cold winters, Anatolia's central plateau is Turkey's most important potato producing region. It is also the site of the country's National Potato Research Institute, at Niğde, which is responsible for potato breeding, producing virus-free seed potatoes, conducting research projects and training potato farmers. In October, as the region's potatoes are being harvested, the institute will host a field day in honour of IYP.

2 October

"Potatoes today and in the future"

Peru's embassy in Helsinki celebrates IYP by hosting a potato photography exhibition, a sampling of potato dishes and a lecture on "Potatoes today and in the future", to be delivered by Jari Valkonen, an award winning plant virologist at Helsinki University. The event is co-sponsored by Finland's Ministry of Agriculture and FAO. In 2007, Finland produced 680 000 tonnes of potatoes, including a celebrated local variety, lapin puikula.

2-7 October

Irish potato famine remembered

During the Irish "potato famine" of 1845-1850, more than 4 000 female orphans were shipped to British colonies in Australia to work as servants. To commemorate the 160th anniversary of their arrival, an Irish-Australian historical society is hosting a week-long event entitled "Far from famine" in Galong, near Canberra. It includes workshops, Irish music and dancing, a tree planting ceremony and a commemoration service.

4-10 October

Potato science links Europe, Latin America

The 3rd Spanish-American Congress on Potato Research and Development will be held in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, in October. The congress, which aims at forging closer ties between the potato sectors in Latin America and Europe, will address recent developments in genetic improvement, genetic engineering, micropropagation of seed potatoes, industrial processing and quality marketing. The congress is being held as part of "Potato week".

7 October

Living with potatoes

To raise awareness of the importance of the potato for world food security, the College of Agricultural Science and Technology at California State University Fresno hosts an international symposium on "Living with potatoes" on 7 October. The event will provide a global forum for potato growers, researchers, processors and equipment suppliers who are interested in promoting sustainable potato production.

7-9 October

The latest on potato pests and diseases

The European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) and Ukraine's plant quarantine service have organized a European phytosanitary conference on potato and other arable crops in Chernovtsy in October. The meeting will review the latest EPPO standards for potato, and discuss major pest and disease threats, including wart disease and cyst nematodes. It will also examine emerging pests of the Solanaceae family of plants.

16 October

Potato celebrated on World Food Day

Rwanda's national IYP committee will celebrate the International Year in conjunction with World Food Day in the potato-growing district of Nyabihu on 16 October. Rwandans have much to celebrate: the country is among sub- Saharan Africa's biggest potato producers, with the 2007 harvest totalling more than 1.2 million tonnes. The country's potato consumption stands at a high 125 kg per capita per year.

Russian Federation
18 October

Harvest festival in Vurnary

The district of Vurnary, in the Russian Federation's Republic of Chuvasia, hosts a potato harvest festival on 18 October. The annual event, which is sponsored by local authorities, a seed potato producer and a manufacturer of crop protection products, includes tasting of home-cooked potato dishes, children's games and sporting events. As well as growing potatoes, Chuvashia is the Russian Federation's leading producer of hops and is famous for its beer.

25 October

Sausages with mashed potato

People in Lincolnshire county, in the east of England, are so proud of their distinctive "Lincolnshire sausage" that they are seeking to register the name to protect it from imitations. And since the sausages are usually served with mashed potatoes - and Lincolnshire is one of the UK's biggest potato producers - the organizers have decided to celebrate both foods together, at the Lincolnshire Sausage and Potato Festival on 25 October.

Dem. Rep. of Congo
29 October

Big day in Mbanza-Ngungu

IYP in the Democratic Republic of Congo culminates on 29 October with a potato festival organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO in Mbanza-Ngungu, in the province of Bas-Congo, from where potato farmers supply markets in Kinshasa. During 2008, the national IYP committee publicized the International Year with TV spots and radio programmes, and made a video on potato cultivation.


Potato food festival by Lake Titicaca

The city of Puno sits by the side of Lake Titicaca in Peru, at the centre of origin of the cultivated potato. To celebrate the International Year, Puno's Regional Agricultural Department is sponsoring in November a food festival at which special guests of honour will be the potato and tunta, a dehydrated potato product. Activities include a contest among the city's restaurants for the best potato dish.

30 November - 5 December

Latin American potato congress

The Latin American Potato Association, which links producers, researchers, extensionists and processors, holds its 23rd annual congress in Mar del Plata City from 30 November to 5 December. Sponsored by Argentina's National Agricultural Technology Institute, the congress aims at disseminating research results and technological innovations and fostering ties between private and public sectors in the region.

Dec. 2008-Jan. 2009

Potato on display at FAO, Rome

As lead agency for observation of IYP, the Food and Agriculture Organization ends the International Year with a potato exhibition in its glass-domed atrium. The exhibition consists of three separate displays - one, in Italian, "The magic voyage of the potato", provided by Italy's Fruili Venezia Giulia region, CIP's travelling exhibition, "Odyssey of the potato", the winning entries in the IYP World Photography Contest, and paintings of Andean farmers by Tadayuki Noguchi

1 December

Prizes for potato quality

Winners of the Belgian Potato Quality Award will receive their prizes at Belgium's Interpom trade fair in Kortrijk in December. The awards are made each year to potato farmers and processors who have improved the public image of agriculture in general and potatoes in particular. This year's Interpom event also features exhibits covering the entire production chain, from crop protection to processing.

9-12 December

Global conference marks end of IYP 2008

The challenge facing potato scientists is to enhance productivity, quality and value addition at a time of diminishing availability of land and water, new biotic and abiotic stresses, and fast changing consumer preferences. Those challenges will be addressed at a Global Potato Conference organized in New Delhi by the Indian Potato Association, India's Central Potato Research Institute and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

16 December

National Potato Day in Algiers

Algeria celebrates the International Year of the Potato in Algiers on 16 December with a photographic exhibition, the projection of documentaries on the potato and its cultivation, and a national cookery contest. The day's events have been organized with the participation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, FAO, research institutes, NGOs, the potato industry, Algerian television and radio, and the Embassy of Peru.

New Zealand
22-25 March 2009

Potato 2009: the story continues...

The biennial World Potato Congress will be held in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2009. With the theme "Nourishing our future", the four-day congress will review the latest developments in crop management, environment and energy issues, food and non-food processing, and food safety and quality. More than 500 delegates, representing the potato industry in both developed countries and developing countries, are expected to attend.