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Kenya to host the 2026 World Potato Congress

The World Potato Congress Inc. has chosen Kenya as the site for its 2026 World Potato Congress.

State Department of Crop Development Principal Secretary (PS,) Kello Harsama, said that this will be the first time this globally significant biennial business event will be held in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the event expected to draw potato industry colleagues and partners from all over the world.

Speaking from Kilimo house while making the announcement, Harsama said that the successful bid, led by National Potato Council of Kenya and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, was supported by Council’s many public and private sector partners including, but not limited to International Potato Centre, Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), KenInvest, Pest Control Product Board, Kevian Kenya Ltd, Corteva AgriScience, Agriculture Sector Network (ASNET), Bayer East Africa and Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable agriculture.

The PS said that potatoes are the second most important food crop in Kenya after maize and it plays an important role in food security, poverty eradication, and economic development.

Yet Africa faces a great challenge with food security as population growth continues at a fast pace.

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

“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,” explained Harsama.

The PS said that Kenya prides itself as a mature and vibrant hospitality industry with a globally renowned world class chain of hotels, offering first class conference and accommodation facilities.

Harsama said that the country has an established Information and Communication (ICT) infrastructure, which is among the leading in the continent in terms of coverage and network connectivity in sea, road and air transport.

He highlighted that the 2026 World Potato Congress is expected to attract over 1,000 delegates in Nairobi for the week, stimulating the local tourism economy.

“Besides the trade show component and congress, Kenya has a lot to offer delegates for the three days’ event in late July 2026. Plans are in place for a pre-conference golf tournament and networking reception,” said the PS.

He added that post-conference activities will include technical tours to large seed and potato growing operations, researchers, packers and processors as well as an opportunity for delegates to visit one of Kenya’s many national parks.

“Delegates wishing to extend their stay will have the opportunity to witness the 8th Wonder of the World, the world’s largest Wildebeest migration, which occurs in the months of July and August,” said Harama.

World Potato Congress Inc. President and CEO, Peter VanderZaag, in a quote read on his behalf by PS Harsama said that.

“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 as well as provide an opportunity for networking, investment, and trade relationships across the entire potato sector.”

National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK) CEO, Wachira Kaguongo, said that the competition was high and when the assessors came to Kenya they were coming from Israel and what impressed them most is that Kenya was bidding as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) that is the government and the private sector.

NPCK Chairman, John Nderitu, said that the PPP has been there for over 10 years and they have achieved a lot working together with the government.

“We also fought hard as a country to get one of our own into the World Potato Congress that is our CEO Mr. Wachira and that is why we are able to lobby from within and push agendas to progress the Kenyan potato sector into the world arena,” said Nderitu.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

 

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