The 7th World Potato Conference was held in Christchurch this week. This is the first time it has been held in New Zealand. A large number of scientists from many different countries attended the conference.
New Zealand is a good country to host a potato conference because we grow and eat a lot of potatoes. Each person in New Zealand eats about 65kg of potatoes a year. We sell $6 million worth of potatoes overseas every year; 70% of our potato exports go to Australia for potato chips and the rest of the exports are to the Pacific and Asia. We can grow 50 tonnes per hectare, on average, of potatoes.
However, China is now the biggest grower of potatoes and India is also growing potatoes. Potatoes may be a better food for feeding millions of people than rice or wheat. A growing potato plant doesn’t need as much water as grain. It can grow in most kinds of soil and climate.
Potatoes can be used in many ways: baked, boiled, mashed, or as french fries. A slang word for the potato in New Zealand is “spud”. If you hear someone say they are going to have spuds for dinner, that means potatoes.