This spring, Trias was one of the highlights at the World Potato Congress in Peru. The contacts made during this event with various partners have been fruitful.
Every three years, the World Potato Congress brings together thousands of researchers and professionals from the global potato sector. For this spring’s edition, Congress President Romain Cools booked in a presentation of the projects Trias has carried out together with a number of local farmers’ organisations in the Andes, the birthplace of the potato.
Generator for freezer room
‘During the event, we met some interesting people’, explains Lieve Van Elsen, regional director of Trias Andes. ‘Take for example seed and fertilizer sellers. In the past, these companies were not interested in small farmers from Conpapa or Coopagros. But during the World Potato Congress, they discovered the potential of these farmers’ organisations and their members. That is interesting for the farmers as the companies also offer technical assistance.’
Significantly, the national governments in the Andes countries have been enthused. In Peru, the government was so impressed by the new freezer
room of Coopagros’ potato growers that they immediately made a generator available to provide the installation with electricity, making the freezer room operational. However, the quality of the freeze-dried potatoes still needs to be optimized, which is why Trias has started a partnership with the ILVO, Unversity College Ghent, the University of Andahuaylas and the International Potato Center in Peru.
In Ecuador, agriculture minister Rúben Flores unveiled ambitious plans after the World Potato Congress. ‘We got the chance to speak to the minister’, says Van Elsen, who is excited about the 500,000 dollars that Flores has just freed up for the country’s potato sector.
‘The potato sector in Ecuador will get an extra impulse with investments in informing companies, monitoring the quality of seeds and building new storage warehouses. The model for this is Conpapa’s warehouse, which was built several years ago with the support of Trias Andes and our Flemish partners. Furthermore, the Ecuadorian government will subsidise a crisp factory run by Agropapa, another farmers’ organisation which Trias works with’, explains the regional director.
Trias Andes’ Flemish partners are also keen to keep up the good work. Siebe Moeyaert is currently in Ecuador, designing a weighing and packing add-on for Conpapa’s potato growers as part of his master’s in electromechanics. The add-on will be coupled to the washing and sorting machine that was constructed two years ago with the support of Boerenbond, Belgapom and VTI in Torhout.
This new add-on will serve as the basis for detailed designs that students at the VTI will do this autumn as part of their final year.
In the last decade, Trias has built on the Flemish coalition supporting potatoes in the Andes. In 2008, Belgapom was brought on board as part of the International Year of the Potato. Since then, partnerships have been forged at different points in time with Rotary, the VTI, the VLTI, the ILVO and the Province of West Flanders.
Although Peru and Ecuador are currently middle-income countries, it is still difficult for the millions of farming families in the Andes to enjoy a standard of living that we consider ‘normal’. Most of their villages are isolated, and a long way from high-quality, basic healthcare and education services. Mining is the most important sector in production value terms, but it is agriculture that provides jobs. The low incomes and limited infrastructure mean that many people leave rural areas.
Support Trias’ potato projects in the Andes:
Potatoes with added value in Ecuador
Freeze, leak and sun-dry