Feb. 28, 2000
FREDERICTON (CNB) - A New Brunswick delegation, led by Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Milt Sherwood, will take part in one of the world's premier scientific potato conferences which begins today in Havana, Cuba.
The Latin American Potato Association biennial conference is expected to attract about 500 delegates from more than 20 countries in the Americas and Europe.
"This is a great opportunity for us to showcase our potato expertise to a large audience, not only in Cuba, but throughout Latin America," Sherwood said.
The New Brunswick delegation, with the assistance of the Canadian Embassy in Cuba, has lined up a full agenda for the week-long mission including meetings with Cuban government officials and companies.
A New Brunswick display booth at the conference trade show will provide delegates with information on the province's potato varieties and export capabilities. A new video on the New Brunswick potato industry will be shown for the first time at the trade show.
The highlight of the New Brunswick mission will be the hosting of a field day for conference delegates at Matanzas, the rural site of an ongoing New Brunswick potato demonstration project.
"We have more than 20 varieties growing in demonstration plots in Cuba," Sherwood said. "Delegates will be able see a full demonstration of our potato varieties which are just about ready to harvest right now. It's a great opportunity to present our seed potato industry to many other Latin American countries."
The New Brunswick delegation has chosen the theme 80 Years of Friendship for promotional materials at the conference to honour eight decades of seed potato trade with Cuba.
Agri-food exports to Cuba have risen dramatically in the past decade, led by the trade in seed potatoes. In November and December 1999, New Brunswick exporters shipped seed potatoes to Cuba valued at about $6.7 million.
"In recent years, both tonnage and market share for our seed potatoes have increased, to the point where in each of the past three years we have supplied almost two-thirds of the entire Cuban market," Sherwood said. "That's why it is imperative that we have a strong presence at this conference."
The New Brunswick delegation includes representatives of seven New Brunswick seed potato exporting companies, officials from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and several other New Brunswick companies hoping to expand trade opportunities in Latin America.
MEDIA CONTACT: John White, director of communications, Agriculture and Rural Development, 506-453-5451.