Congress brings global industry together
EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Allan Parker, president of the World Potato Congress Inc., can't tell you where in the world the next congress will be. World Potato Congress Inc. is based in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, the first of eight ...
EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Allan Parker, president of the World Potato Congress Inc., can't tell you where in the world the next congress will be.
World Potato Congress Inc. is based in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, the first of eight congresses was held there in 1993. Parker has been president for eight years, and during that time, the organization has hosted congresses at Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2009, and most recently in Edinburgh, Scotland. The organization operates with a half-time staffer. The board of directors and an international advisory council are all volunteers.
Nearly 50 countries were represented this year, Parker said, taking a breath after a long conference.
"We're looking forward to the ninth, and we're not sure where that's going to be," Parker said. The organization has gone to mature production regions of the world, but areas that are developing -- places such as China, for example -- have generated significant interest. "That's where the industry tends to want to go -- places that are up and coming, as opposed to areas where they have all of their needs taken care of for equipment, storage and agronomy."
Parker, 64, was born and raised in P.E.I., and worked 23 years in potatoes, with the Prince Edward Island Potato Board. He was responsible for basic seed potato production and for promoting P.E.I. potatoes in the Americas and Western Europe.
Then he started advising a potato growing operation in the Moscow region in Russia. He is a partner in a 4,000-acre farm called DokaGene Group, which in turn is part of the so-called Vegetoria Group. He spends up to four months a year in Russia, mostly at planting and harvest time.