Nairobi puts best foot forward to host 2026 potato congress

Nairobi has secured a bid to host the World Potato Congress in 2026, the Ministry of Agriculture has announced.

The successful bid, orchestrated by the National Potato Council of Kenya and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, was endorsed by a myriad of public and private sector partners. These include notable entities such as the International Potato Centre, SSA (CIP), Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), KenInvest, and others.

State Department of Crop Development Principal Secretary (PS,) Kello Harsama said the event will bring together potato industry colleagues and partners from around the globe.

This marks a significant milestone as it will be the first time this biennial business event is held in Sub-Saharan Africa. The proposed theme for the congress is “Developing Global Potato Partnerships for Enhanced Food Systems, Food Security, and International Trade.”

This theme highlights the importance of collaboration and cooperation in addressing the challenges of food security and sustainable agriculture.

“Holding the Congress in Kenya will contribute towards ending extreme poverty in all forms by 2030 in Africa. Besides contributing towards ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, the congress will provide valuable educational opportunities in promoting sustainable agriculture,” said Harsama.

Potatoes rank as the second most critical food crop in the country, trailing only maize. They play a substantial role in food security, poverty alleviation, and economic development.

However, Africa continues to grapple with food security issues amid a rapidly growing population. This situation presents a vast scope for improved potato yields, better utilisation, and increased income generation along the entire value chain.

“They contribute significantly to food security, poverty eradication, and economic development. By hosting the World Potato Congress, Kenya aims to showcase its expertise in potato cultivation, processing, and innovation,” said Harsama.

He added that the potato crop has substantial room for improved yields, better utilization and increased incomes along the whole value chain.

The congress will offer valuable educational opportunities, promoting sustainable agriculture practices.

It will also create avenues for inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work, particularly for youth and women in the sector.

By bringing together experts, policymakers, and industry leaders, the event will facilitate knowledge exchange, technology transfer, and market development in the potato industry.

The 2026 World Potato Congress is expected to attract over 1,000 delegates to Nairobi.

This gathering will not only foster networking and collaboration but also stimulate the local economy across various sectors.

The influx of international participants will boost businesses, boost tourism, and showcase Kenya’s potential as a hub for agricultural innovation.

President of the World Potato Congress Inc, Peter VanderZaag expressed his excitement over Kenya’s selection, lauding the country as a leader in potato research and development in East Africa. He expressed confidence that the congress will raise the profile and capacity of the potato value chain in the region.

“I am excited that Kenya will host the 13th World Potato Congress in 2026. Kenya is centrally located and a leader in both potato research and development in East Africa. I am confident that this congress will increase the profile and capacity for the potato value chain in this region,” he said.

The 2024 World Potato Congress will be held in Adelaide, South of Australia from June 23 to 26.