1st APA Conference, 1987 in Kenya, 82 participants from 17 countries
The first APA Conference in Kenya focused on seeking ways to popularize potato as a food crop in Africa as in those days it was not yet popular as such. It proved to be a suitable crop to stop the food crisis on the continent as it is fast-growing, cheap and adaptable. The potato could be used efficiently as a main crop in the kitchen-garden, or intercropped with cereals, legumes or other root crops as is often the case in traditional agricultural set-up. So the first Conference in Kenya focused on seeking solutions to various problems plaguing the Potato Industry and also to discuss where APA would go from here.
2nd Conference, 1990 in Mauritius, 136 participants from 26 countries
The focus of the second Conference lay on breeding and selection, seed production and diseases. Researchers from the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, the USA, and Peru presented the latest technological achievements in these fields. Their knowledge and experience was transferred to the African context in order to address food-issues and help alleviate food shortage in Africa. The Conference was held concurrently with a workshop on the production, post-harvest technology and the utilization of potato in the warm tropic. It was sponsored by the International Potato Center (CIP), Mauritius Sugarcane Industry Research Institute (MSIRI) and the African Potato Association (APA).
4th Conference, 1997 in South Africa, 111 participants from 24 countries
The fourth APA Conference offered the opportunity to share latest trends and developments in potato and sweetpotato research and production in Africa. Research papers during this Conference were concerned with scientific studies in agronomy, biotechnology, breeding, entomology, pathology, post-harvest, seed production, true potato seed and virology.
5th Conference, 2000 in Uganda, 211 participants from 38 countries
“Potatoes for Poverty Alleviation”
The fifth Conference of the African Potato Association dealt with the causes of poverty in agricultural systems, which include low production, poor communication and distribution, and low education of the farmers. It was recognized that the communication between researchers and the general public (policy makers, famers) had to be improved for making knowledge available and applicable to farmers. Also the role of the private sector in production systems was to be reinforced to strengthen economic aspects of potato production. Papers were concerned with topics within the fields of biotechnology, crop improvement and production, seed production, agronomy and varietal dissemination, diseases and socio economics.
6th Conference, 2004 in Morocco
“Research, Development, Innovation for Income Generation”.
The sixth Conference was still much influenced by the challenge of poverty and hunger. Cooperation among countries was to be strengthened and research projects were to be encouraged for a sound development. The wellbeing of many small farmers in Africa depended on a flourishing potato industry which should strategically be pursued. Papers were grouped according to the following management categories: management of potato chains, in vitro multiplication, microtubers, minitubers and potato seed management, crop improvement and production and fungal/bacterial diseases management.
7th Conference, 2007 in Egypt, 160 participants from 20 countries
“Potato, Sweet Potato and Root crops improvement for facing poverty and hunger in Africa”.
The seventh APA Conference aimed at developing an agenda for the future cooperation among African countries. Next to the production of high quality seed and pest control, an effective marketing approach and technology transfer should be encouraged. Elite scientists from different parts of the world shared their experiences in order to improve and increase potato and sweetpotato production to cover the demand of fast growing populations in Africa.
8th Conference, 2010 in South Africa
“Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes, the Driving Force Behind Food Security in Africa”
The eight APA Conference was aiming to find new ideas to make potatoes and sweetpotatoes the driving force behind food security in Africa. Innovation, technology development and technology transfer were regarded the means to achieve this ambitious goal. Potato and sweetpotato were regarded to lead the way towards a sustainable food production, which was affordable, nutritious and safe for a growing population.
The latest world economic crisis and its impact was still felt and forced world leaders to pay more attention to world food security. Potato and sweetpotato are one answer to food security as they are two of the world food security champions. Development and research on these crops are the means to achieve the UN Millennium goals that focus on hunger, poverty, malnutrition.
9th Conference, 2013 in Kenya, 287 participants from 38 countries
“Transforming Potato and Sweetpotato value chains for Food and Nutrition Security “
The key role of potato and sweetpotato in regard to food production, but also its promising economic potential attracted representatives of the private sector from Europe, Asia, America and Africa to the ninth APA Conference. The interest in African agriculture and agribusiness from foreign investors and investment funds was unprecedentedly high. Besides the scientific presentations, fruitful discussions and informal interactions took place between researchers and private sector players.
As past APA conferences have been dominated basically by African based researchers with little private sector presence, this time private sector actors from Europe, Asia, America and of course Africa were presented in good numbers.