On August 25, Potatoes USA sponsored a U.S. demonstration plot at the Panama-hosted Latin American Potato Congress (known as ALAP). In the 2015/2016 marketing year, 77% of all U.S. seed potato exports were to Latin America. The ALAP field day had an audience of 400 participants from Panama, including the Panama Minister of Agriculture, and 24 other countries. The event was held at a research center near Cerra Punta, in the heart of the Panama potato growing region. Potatoes USA sent a dozen varieties of U.S. grower-donated seed potatoes from 10 states to Panama in May 2016 to plant in the demonstration plot. Due to issues at the border, which the U.S. did not face, no other seed exporting country was able to get their seed potatoes into Panama for the field day.
Potatoes USA consultants and staff as well as four U.S. growers/exporters were on hand at the trials to discuss the U.S. seed. As the growers present were also some of those who donated seed they were able to speak about their own seed varieties.
Ahead of the field day, the ALAP Congress held a 3-day meeting of Latin American potato experts, including growers, traders, research scientists and government representatives. The U.S. has a strong presence during this meeting as well. The Potatoes USA seed consultants gave two presentations, one on Potatoes USA and our seed export program and the other on the results we have achieved in other Central American seed variety trials. USDA-Agricultural Research Service potato expert, Dr. Joe Munyaneza, presented his findings on the minimal risk of Zebra Chip disease spreading through fresh potato tuber imports into Latin America. His research is funded in part by grants Potatoes USA received to protect international trade markets.