Saving the World with Potatoes
Potato Product Group of Horticulture New Zealand
31 August 2007
Saving the World with Potatoes
Plans to celebrate next year’s International Year of the Potato were revealed today at the Horticulture New Zealand annual conference. The United Nations has declared 2008 as the International Year of the Potato (IYP), and attendees at the conference were treated to a presentation of plans for next year.
The year is aimed at increasing awareness of the potato as a food in developing nations, and promoting research and development of potato-based horticulture systems to help meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The UN wants to establish potato production in economically challenged countries in order to reduce hunger and poverty, to improve nutrition, and to promote sustainable biodiversity.
A range of activities for 2008 are being planned around the world as well as in New Zealand. The UK and Europe, Latin America, the US and Canada, South Africa, China, Russia, and India are all participating.
Kevin Wilcox, Chairman of the Potato Promotion Committee, which is part of Horticulture New Zealand, says that they are delighted with the UN’s decision to draw attention to the importance of potatoes to the world’s population.
“The potato is a staple food in diets everywhere. Up to 85 percent of the plant is edible human food compared to around 50 percent in cereals. Potatoes are also very good for you – they are rich in carbohydrates, protein, vitamin C and important minerals like potassium.”
The Potato Product Group is planning a huge range of activities for New Zealand during the International Year of the Potato. Activities will be aimed at consumers, food writers, the food service industry, and retailers who will be encouraged to spread the message far and wide about the International Year of the Potato.
Activities planned so far include:
- New resources and recipes will be produced on the theme ‘everything goes with potatoes’
- New cookbooks written by key food writers will be launched, plus a new potato buyers guide and wallet card. Radio and magazine competitions will promote the cookbooks, and a celebrity recipe swap is also planned.
- An international speakers tour will focus on nutrition, potatoes and their role in satiety (feeling full)
- Potatoes will be the major focus of the 5+ A Day campaign in November 2008 with lots of activities for kids including a “Grow Your Own Potato” kit.
“These are just a few of the things we have planned,” says Mr Wilcox. “Through these activities, we’re aiming to raise awareness of the potato as an important and nutritious food crop, both for New Zealanders and for people in other parts of the world.
“Here in New Zealand the activities will push potatoes to ‘front of mind’ which will help growers and retailers reach a wider audience and remind people that potatoes are tasty, nutritious and come in all shapes and sizes. We hope the activities will also draw attention to potatoes as a valuable foodstaple, and the important nutritional role they can play in developing countries. The activities will also show the diversity, tastiness and nutritional value of the potatoes we have here in New Zealand.”
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