The first APA Conference in Kenya focused on seeking ways to popularize potato as a food crop in Africa as in those days it was not yet popular as such. It proved to be a suitable crop to stop the food crisis on the continent as it is fast-growing, cheap and adaptable. The potato could be used efficiently as a main crop in the kitchen-garden, or intercropped with cereals, legumes or other root crops as is often the case in traditional agricultural set-up. So the first Conference in Kenya focused on seeking solutions to various problems plaguing the Potato Industry and also to discuss where APA would go from here.
The focus of the second Conference lay on breeding and selection, seed production and diseases. Researchers from the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, the USA, and Peru presented the latest technological achievements in these fields. Their knowledge and experience were transferred to the African context in order to address food-issues and help alleviate food shortage in Africa. The Conference was held concurrently with a workshop on the production, post-harvest technology and the utilization of potato in the warm tropic. It was sponsored by the International Potato Center (CIP), Mauritius Sugarcane Industry Research Institute (MSIRI) and the African Potato Association (APA).
The fourth APA Conference offered the opportunity to share latest trends and developments in potato and sweet potato research and production in Africa. Research papers during this Conference were concerned with scientific studies in agronomy, biotechnology, breeding, entomology, pathology, post-harvest, seed production, true potato seed and virology.
“Potatoes for Poverty Alleviation”
The fifth Conference of the African Potato Association dealt with the causes of poverty in agricultural systems, which include low production, poor communication and distribution, and low education of the farmers. It was recognized that the communication between researchers and the public (policy makers, famers) had to be improved for making knowledge available and applicable to farmers. Also, the role of the private sector in production systems was to be reinforced to strengthen economic aspects of potato production. Papers were concerned with topics within the fields of biotechnology, crop improvement and production, seed production, agronomy and varietal dissemination, diseases, and socio economics.
“Research, Development, Innovation for Income Generation”.
The sixth Conference was still much influenced by the challenge of poverty and hunger. Cooperation among countries was to be strengthened and research projects were to be encouraged for a sound development. The wellbeing of many small farmers in Africa depended on a flourishing potato industry which should strategically be pursued. Papers were grouped according to the following management categories: management of potato chains, in vitro multiplication, microtubers, minitubers and potato seed management, crop improvement and production and fungal/bacterial diseases management.
“Potato, Sweetotato and Root crops improvement for facing poverty and hunger in Africa”.
The seventh APA Conference aimed at developing an agenda for the future cooperation among African countries. Next to the production of high-quality seed and pest control, an effective marketing approach and technology transfer should be encouraged. Elite scientists from different parts of the world shared their experiences to improve and increase potato and sweet potato production to cover the demand of fast-growing populations in Africa.
“Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes, the Driving Force Behind Food Security in Africa”
The eight APA Conference was aiming to find new ideas to make potatoes and sweet potatoes the driving force behind food security in Africa. Innovation, technology development and technology transfer were regarded the means to achieve this ambitious goal. Potato and sweet potato were regarded to lead the way towards a sustainable food production, which was affordable, nutritious, and safe for a growing population.
The latest world economic crisis and its impact was still felt and forced world leaders to pay more attention to world food security. Potato and sweet potato are one answer to food security as they are two of the world food security champions. Development and research on these crops are the means to achieve the UN Millennium goals that focus on hunger, poverty, malnutrition.
“Transforming Potato and Sweet potato value chains for Food and Nutrition Security”
The key role of potato and sweet potato regarding food production, but also its promising economic potential attracted representatives of the private sector from Europe, Asia, America and Africa to the ninth APA Conference. The interest in African agriculture and agribusiness from foreign investors and investment funds was unprecedentedly high. Besides the scientific presentations, fruitful discussions and informal interactions took place between researchers and private sector players.
As past APA conferences have been dominated basically by African based researchers with little private sector presence, this time private sector actors from Europe, Asia, America and of course Africa were presented in good numbers.
“Growing Wealth and Health”
The APA Conference was organized by the Ethiopian Institute Agricultural Research (EIAR) with the support of the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoANR) and the International Potato Center (CIP).
It was held from October 9th to 13th, 2016 at the UNECA Conference Center, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. More than 300 participants from 34 countries attended, out of which 37 participants were from non-African countries. It was also the first time at an APA Conference that the private sector had been given a slot to meet, network and discuss on the way forward concerning commercialization of potato and sweet potato in the African market and the challenges faced. Research for Development reached a new practical dimension through this meeting, when the various stakeholders necessary for promoting this development had the opportunity to meet and profit from the various experiences especially from other African countries in this respect
“Leveraging Potato and Sweetpotato’s Contribution to Sustainable, Nutritious Food Systems”
Held from 25-29 August 2019 at Marriot Hotel in the capital Kigali, the 11th APA conference was organized by the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) and the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) with support from the International Potato Center (CIP). There were 331 participants in total from 22 African and 10 non-African countries. One-quarter of the participants were women. The conference had 7 keynote speakers, 102 oral presentations, 124 poster presentations, and 20 exhibition booths. A highlight was the participation of the President of the World Potato Congress and there was a substantial increase in farmers attending the meeting who were able to network with researchers. On the last day of the conference, participants joined one of five field trips looking at different aspects of sweetpotato and potato value chain work on-going in Rwanda.