The International Year of the Potato is viewed as the first step in a continuing process. It will serve as a catalyst for information exchange and the initiation of medium and long-term programmes of potato development.
In the short term, it will have impact by increasing awareness and support for activities related to the potato. For longer-term impact, emphasis will go to supporting the formulation of national programmes and development strategies. To multiply the effects of that impact, the establishment and subsequent maintenance of IYP committees at regional and national levels is an essential aspect of the International Year.
Objective, strategy and expected outcomes
The main objective of the IYP Plan is to promote the sustainable development of potato-based systems and the potato industry and to enhance the well-being of producers as well as consumers through successful observance of IYP 2008. The immediate objectives are:
- to increase awareness of the importance of potato production and use in helping to achieve Millennium Development Goal 1 (Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger), while ensuring MDG7 (Ensure environmental stability)
- to coordinate and conduct activities at national, international and global levels to celebrate IYP
- to promote the sharing of knowledge and information on challenges and opportunities to improve the efficiency of the potato subsector at global, regional, national and community levels
- to enhance lasting international partnership and cooperation among public, non-governmental and private stakeholders in the potato commodity chain (MDG8)
The strategy for IYP implementation is to engage partners and the entire potato community in developing synergies and initiating combined and mutually beneficial and supportive actions in order to sustainably improve potato-based systems. This will include:
- Disseminating information on potato-based systems
- Organizing and supporting workshops on potato-based systems
- Conducting case studies and producing publications to generate additional information and knowledge on specific aspects of potato-based systems
- Organizing and supporting cultural events, potato research contests, art or photographic competitions and exhibitions on potato and related issues
- Providing technical support in the formulation of strategies, programmes and projects to support potato subsector development and potato-based production systems
The expected outputs will fall into four streams:
- Enhanced profile of the potato leading to heightened global awareness of its role in food security and income-generation, stronger demand, improved returns to producers and producing countries, and recognition and improved understanding of outstanding potato-based agricultural heritage systems
- Enhanced mechanisms for ensuring local empowerment and participatory approaches to resource use for potato development, with environmental benefits in consuming countries
- Enhanced international cooperation through partnership building
- Enhanced appreciation among school children of agricultural, nutritional, environmental and social issues and food systems in general
Key activities and implementation steps
Key activities for IYP implementation will include the following:
End of 2006 - IYP planning
- Consultations with partners and resource mobilization
- Drafting of the IYP concept paper leading to the formulation of an action plan to guide the process
- Creating an advocacy and communication team and a web-based portal
- Organizing the first meeting of the IYP Informal International Steering Committee (IISC)
2007 - Launch of IYP
- Finalizing the IYP concept paper
- Developing concept notes and information materials
- Planning events for IYP and for sustainability beyond 2008
- Producing a major publication on potato and technical position papers
- Organizing an official launching event for IYP
2008 - Observance of IYP
- Providing coordination and media information
- Implementation of activities at national, regional and global levels, involving various partners
- Convening an international conference to mark the observance of IYP
2009 - IYP follow-up
- Wrapping up and evaluation of the impact of IYP activities
- Reporting including a final report to the United Nations General Assembly
- Support to ongoing activities and continuing activities by the international partners for the sustainability and benefit of the potato subsector
Role of IYP partners
- FAO as the facilitating organization will draw on past expertise in potato development and on its experience in facilitating other International Years (Rice 2004 and Mountains 2002). FAO has regional, liaison and representative offices across the world with the infrastructure and capacity to coordinate a global awareness and action campaign.
- UN agencies and other international developmental and research organizations, especially the International Potato Centre (CIP) and its associated research networks will be major IYP partners. CIP and other CGIAR centres provide critical contributions to the development of potato-based production systems through a large number of programmes, agreements, research initiatives and other measures.
- Governments of both potato producing and consuming countries provide the broad political, technical, economic and social framework that foster development. Their public institutions have an important responsibility in ensuring that sustainable strategies and approaches are promoted and facilitated.
- Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) generally enjoy strong relationships with local communities through an array of grassroots projects. They are keenly interested in new means for fostering sustainable development and are very skilled in ensuring that these innovations reach local people.
- Farmer associations and rural communities are essential IYP partners, as they possess local knowledge and practical expertise and can benefit from improvements in potato production.
- The private sector can influence most factors important to potato development, especially with regard to improving the efficient use of production inputs and processing methods. The private sector is engaged in many research and development activities that were previously in the public domain and will be keen to participate in raising public awareness of the importance of the potato through the activities of IYP.
Partners will establish an IYP Informal International Steering Committee that will guide the process of IYP implementation and, in particular, provide guidance to the technical secretariat in facilitating the creation of regional and national IYP committees.
Suggested role for "IYP champions"
The need for all stakeholders to work together during and after IYP 2008 was expressly acknowledged by the United Nations General Assembly when it nominated the major partners to work together for the International Year.
However, the implementation of IYP will require the involvement of key lead countries ("champions") - those with a great interest in potato and with the capacity to play a lead role to making IYP a success. The presence of these "champions" will help generate and catalyse support and resources for the coordination, implementation, observance and follow-up of IYP.