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Celebrating the Year of the Potato

20 November, 2008 - by Gerry Kelly

Sinn Féin Junior Minister Gerry Kelly MLA, joined representatives from across the potato supply chain today at a celebration of the United Nation's (UN) International Year of the Potato.

The UN International Year of the Potato focuses global attention on the key role of the potato, and agriculture in general, in fighting hunger and poverty, contributing to sustainable development, and safeguarding the natural environment. The International Year of the Potato has highlighted the contribution that the potato is already making in providing food security and eradicating poverty in support of achieving internationally agreed development goals.

The Minister said:

"Today's event provides an opportunity to celebrate the United Nations International Year of the Potato. It will focus on some of the future challenges and opportunities facing the local potato industry; and, highlight ongoing DARD and AFBI support services for the potato industry.

"The exhibits demonstrate how DARD has worked closely with the potato industry over the years. One tangible outcome of collaboration between trade and DARD is our freedom from serious quarantine diseases that affect potatoes."

On show at the event were several key displays from the history and origin of the potato; potato breeding programmes and variety testing programme; agronomy development work at Greenmount Campus; the NI Seed Potato Certification Scheme and the importance of health; the potato blight forecasting service aspects of disease and pest control and the DARD Chip Initiative.

The Minister added:

"Whilst the potato industry faces many challenges - there are also opportunities to be grasped. It is important that we all work together in partnership to address challenges, exploit opportunities and ensure the future sustainability of our potato industry." ENDS

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