World Potato Congress recognizes industry leaders
By Potatoes in Canada
Aug. 18, 2015, Charlottetown – The closing ceremonies of the World Potato Congress featured presentations of the triennial industry awards, recognizing outstanding personal contributions and leadership in the development of the global potato industry.
By Potatoes in Canada
The awards were presented by David Thompson, president and CEO of World Potato Congress Inc. (WPC), and John MacQuarrie, WPC vice-president and interim chair of the awards committee.
This year’s recipients were Dr. Kevin Clayton-Green (Tasmania, Australia), Dr. Neil C. Gudmestad, (United States), Kees van Arendonk (The Netherlands), Albert T. Wada (United States) and Dr. Yili Chen (China).
Below is a brief summary of the citations for each award recipient:
Dr. Kevin Clayton-Green received his Ph.D. from Melbourne University in 1982. He then played a leading role in developing the country’s blueberry industry during his time as a chairman of the Australian Blueberry Council. In 1993 he joined a leading Tasmanian fresh vegetable exporter, Harvest Moon, where he played a major role introducing and developing new potato varieties for the Australian industry. He was also responsible for introducing the major processing variety for McCain Foods. Clayton-Green continues to work on improving the Australian potato and horticulture industry. He initiated the formation of a Tasmanian seed potato group to ensure Tasmania’s industry and biosecurity matters are addressed and represented. Most recently, he assisted in the formulation of future R&D programs to benefit the industry.
Dr. Neil C. Gudmestad obtained a Ph.D. in plant pathology in 1982 and joined the department of plant pathology at North Dakota State University in 1985. His 30 year research career at NDSU has focused on pathogen biology and diversity and on potato disease management. The diseases he studies affect the potato plant from seed tuber to storage. All of his efforts are aimed at solving real-world problems facing the potato industry. This “one foot in the furrow” philosophy – making certain that his science finds solutions to practical problems – has guided Neil’s research throughout his career. In January, he was named the Neil C. Gudmestad Endowed Chair of Potato Pathology. This position is the first fully endowed faculty position at NDSU and it is the first time a current faculty member has had a position named in their honour.
Kees van Arendonk completed his studies at the Agricultural University in Dronten and the University of Nyenrode. He began his career with the potato co-operative Agrico in 1973. In 1986 he became general sales manager for seed potatoes, and in 1989 he was promoted to commercial director. However, most people know him as CEO of the Cooperative Agrico Group. Under his leadership Agrico became one of the key players in the international potato world, especially in new seed potato varieties. In 1999 he oversaw the merging of the Dutch potato organizations into what is now the Dutch Organization of Potato Merchants (NAO) trade association. He was subsequently elected president of the NAO. Since 2009 he has also served as the president of the European Potato Trade Association (Europatat).
Albert T. Wada is the chairman of Wada Farms Inc., an agricultural enterprise in Idaho growing fresh and processing potatoes, seed and commercial wheat, corn, alfalfa and malt barley. Wada Farms grows crops on approximately 30,000 irrigated acres and includes a trucking company, a potato packing plant, and a potato, sweet potato and onion marketing company. As the founding chairman of United Potato Growers of Idaho and the United Potato Growers of America, Wada helped to educate the industry on supply, demand and price. He helped lead the United Potato Growers of Idaho co-operative members into ownership of Idahoan Foods, a dehydrated potato processing company. He has received wide recognition for his efforts, including Potato Man of the Year and Top 25 Produce Leaders from The Packer, Idaho Potato Grower of the Year, the Idaho Governor’s Award for Marketing Innovation, and induction into the Idaho Potato Expo Hall of Fame.
Dr. Yili Chen graduated from the Northeast Agricultural University in 1970. His career contributed to potato genetics and breeding, and related research and teachings. As a potato breeder, he has released more than 10 new potato varieties, which have being widely planted in China. As a supervisor, he guided six Ph.D students and 30 M.Sc. students. Most of these students now play important roles in China’s potato industry. As the secretary general of the China Potato Association, he has successfully organized 15 China Potato Congresses since 1999. In order to push the potato industry forward, he participated in drafting regulations and standards and served as a consultant for several potato companies. He also ran a number of training courses for potato farmers related to potato production. He has worked as the editor-in-chief the Chinese Potato Journal for over 20 years and published more than 30 books. Chen has been recognized for his huge contribution to the potato industry in China, receiving more than 10 awards from different levels of the industry.