Rich programme of celebrations
Ecuador was one of the first countries to form a national committee for IYP celebrations. Following the declaration of National Potato Day on 26 March, the committee has organized a rich programme of events: a national potato congress and photographic exhibition in Quito in June, cultural exhibitions in the cities of Ambato and Riobamba, and a potato festival in the Andean province of Chimborazo in August.
Bi-national festival for biodiversity
To highlight the importance of Andean potato biodiversity, Bolivia's national IYP committee is planning to hold near the ruins of the pre-Columbian city of Tiahuanacu a bi-national festival with participants from farming communities in neighbouring Peru. Another major event of the year will be a congress of Latin American potato growers, scheduled for August in the capital, La Paz.
IYP committees take shape in Africa
The University of Pretoria in South Africa will host a potato exhibition for the whole month of June as part of the country's IYP celebrations. South Africa is one of Africa's leading potato producers, with production in 2007 of almost two million tonnes. Meanwhile, national activities are being planned in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Rwanda and Uganda.
Outdoor art "inspired by spud"
Every two years, the city of Sydney hosts a one-day "Art in the park" exhibition of contemporary art. Inspired by IYP, the subject of this year's exhibition is the "humble spud". The curator urges local and visiting artists to contribute "artworks inspired by the potato - potatoes as metaphor, potatoes as subject, potatoes as medium". The day's event includes entertainment and workshops for adults and children.
Launch of country-wide campaign
As part of IYP, Bangladesh is launching a nation-wide Potato Campaign. Jointly organized by the country's Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Agriculture and FAO, the campaign aims at promoting the potato in a diversified diet and increasing consumption of the country's 2007 bumper harvest of 4.3 million tonnes. The launch will be followed by initiatives at district and sub-district level throughout the month of May.
First national potato congress
Peru will hold its first ever National Potato Congress in the city of Huancayo, in the country's central highlands, from 20 to 23 May. Organized around the theme of "Science, art and business", the congress will include presentations on potato production, processing, marketing and utilization, exhibits on biodiversity and potato gastronomy, and a visit to the national potato research station at Santa Ana.
Potatoes as haute cuisine
The Cordon Bleu School in Paris holds a one-day course on applying French culinary techniques in the preparation of potato dishes. Working under a chef's supervision and guidance, students will prepare five recipes using different types of pommes de terre (students are free to take home and consume their day's work). Cordon Bleu, a world leader in gastronomic education, first opened in Paris in 1895.
Monument to the krompir
In Slovenia, an association dedicated to pan-frying potatoes with onions will unveil a monument to the potato in the mountain town of Šencur on 25 May. The group's 1 500 members observe two basic rules: to eat sautéed potatoes once a week and to rigorously avoid french fries. In September, Šencur will host the 8th World Festival of Sauteéd Potatoes, with participants coming from as far away as Peru and the USA.
Europatat: 60th general assembly
Europatat, an umbrella organization of wholesale potato merchants in 16 European countries, holds its 60th general assembly in Bern, Switzerland from 29-31 May. Focused on "the potato in the future", the meeting features presentations on the influence of climate change on potato farming, the potential of genetic modification, and the viewpoints of producers and consumers on GMO potatoes.
All about seed systems
The Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands is running a three-week course on seed potato technology, certification and supply systems. The course covers the use of modern technology in both formal and informal seed supply systems in different agro-ecological regions of the world. Relevant examples from the Dutch seed potato industry will be demonstrated and discussed.
"Month of the potato" festival
With an average summer temperature of around 23°C, the mountainous county of Goesan, in the Republic of Korea, is well suited to potato production. In June, the county's potato farmers invite city dwellers to join in the annual potato harvest and participate in cooking contests. It's all part of the annual Month of the potato festival. As well as growing excellent potatoes, Goesan is known for its chili peppers and ginseng.
IYP at FAO conference in Africa
Senior agriculture officials from 48 countries meet in Nairobi for the FAO's five-day Regional Conference for Africa. IYP will be there, informing delegates about the potato's key role in agriculture, economy and food security. Potatoes are grown in Africa under a wide range of conditions - from irrigated commercial farms in South Africa to intensively cultivated tropical highland zones of Eastern and Central Africa, where it is mainly a small farmer's crop.
Potato processing and storage
Top-level experts from the potato science and business communities will deliver presentations at the International potato processing and storage convention to be held in Warsaw in June. Topics range from pest and disease control strategies to trends in food safety legislation, business opportunities in emerging markets, and GMO risks in the supply chain.
Biodiversity awards for Peruvian farmers
The future of world potato production depends on efforts to conserve and use the rich potato genepool in the crop's centre of origin, Peru. To honour those who have contributed to conserving Andean native potato varieties, the Peruvian government and the national IYP committee will award prizes to 35 farmers, farm families and communities in Lima on 25 June, which is also Peru's National Farmer's Day.
European Association for Potato Research
Potato experts gather in Brasov, Romania, in July for the four-day congress of the European Association for Potato Research (EAPR). Lectures, workshops and poster presentations this year will cover advances in genomics and breeding, micropropagation innovations, new insights into crop management, potato product development, climate change, and the changing role of potato in Central Europe.
Italy's national potato meeting
One of the key events of the International Year in Italy is the biennial national potato meeting to be held in Budrio, near Bologna, from 11 to 13 July. The event includes a conference on industrial use of potatoes, a technology expo, an exhibition of vintage potato farming equipment, a tractor race and harvesting contest, and a meeting of officials from the country's patata-producing areas.
Maine Potato Blossom Festival
Every year in July, for the past 60 years, the citizens of Maine - where potato is the No. 1 crop - have celebrated the blossoming of the state's potato plants. This year is no exception: hosted in the town of Fort Fairfield, the festival will feature nine days of sports tournaments, music concerts, mashed potato wrestling, an antique tractor show, and a pageant to select this year's Potato Blossom Queen.
Potato harvest festivals
August is potato harvest time in much of southern Canada and northern USA. To celebrate the end of the season, many towns throw a party in honour of Solanum tuberosum. Among them: the 36th annual potato festival in Alliston (Ontario), Potato Days in Clark (South Dakota) and Barnesville (Minnesota), and the traditional potato celebration in Manhattan (Montana).
IYP conference in Scotland
Scotland's contribution to the Year of the Potato is a major conference on improving potato production, to be held in Dundee on 8 August. Organized by the Scottish Crop Research Institute, the conference will be attended by a high level delegation from China. The conference will follow the UK's largest annual potato field event, "Potatoes in practice", to be held in Dundee on 7 August.
National potato week in Lembang
Indonesia is one of Asia's middle-ranking potato producers, with a 2006 harvest of just over one million tonnes. To celebrate IYP, the Indonesian Vegetable Research Institute is organizing a National Potato Week to be held in Lembang, western Java, an area famous for its fruits and vegetables. IVEGRI is a partner of the International Potato Center in programmes for improvement of potato and sweet potato varieties.
IYP event promotes potato production
On the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Fisheries and the country's Sugar Industry Research Institute will host a potato conference and exhibition on 21-22 August. At the conference, the Ministry will launch an interactive CD-ROM on potato for farmers and extensionists, a map of land suitable for growing potato and a book of potato recipes.
Growers raise funds for women's shelter
The farmers' association Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) will take potatoes to the annual Cornfest in Taber, southern Alberta, Canada, in late August. Over two days, the PGA's potato stand will sell baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, french fries and potato chips to raise funds for a local women's crisis shelter. The shelter provides free food and lodging to women and children who are attempting to leave a life of abuse and poverty.