24 March: The official closing ceremonies of the 7th World Potato Congress (WPC) at Christchurch, New Zealand, were highlighted by the presentation of the triennial Industry Awards. The awards recognize outstanding personal contribution and leadership, related to development and progress of the global potato industry.
The awards were presented by World Potato Congress Inc. President and CEO, Allan Parker, and Awards Committee Chair, Douglas Harley. Four individuals were presented with symbolic plaques to commemorate the occasion.
The 2009 award recipients are Mr. Ron Gall, New Zealand; Mr Gregg Halverson, United States; Mr. Hardev Singh Sangha, India; and Mr. Joop N. Stet, The Netherlands.
Ron Gall - New Zealand
Ron Gall has used his knowledge and experience to create a proactive and effective organisation lead by growers and working for the best interests of the potato industry in New Zealand. He is totally committed to the industry in which he works and a very strong advocate for the industry and growers. Ron has encouraged the NZ potato industry to become more involved in international issues, which lead to his being appointed to the WPC International Advisory Committee and culminated in the World Potato Congress being held in Christchurch NZ in 2009. Other initiatives where Ron has played a leadership role include: The NZ Potato industry R&D programme including collaboration with Australia;establishment of the Vegetable Research and Innovation Board; and development of the NZ GAP (Good Agriculture Practice) scheme that provides third party assurances to buyers (now widely used across the NZ horticulture industry).
Gregg Halverson - USA
Gregg Halverson is President and CEO of Black Gold, headquartered in Grand Forks, ND, a company that he founded and built. The multi-state potato growing company has grown to over 15,000 acres of potatoes, with ten individual farms in ten states. Black Gold is known internationally for its adoption of advanced technology in the area of chip potato production and handling. Under Gregg's leadership, Black Gold has received Global and National Supplier Innovation awards from Frito-Lay and Cavendish Farms in recognition for supplier innovation and leadership. In 2002, Black Gold instituted a systematic approach to potato production in the Peoples Republic of China, where they introduced the country's first successful bulk handling and transport system of chip potatoes. Gregg has been involved in leadership positions on the Research Committee of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association as well as the Environmental Affairs Committee of the National Potato Council. He is presently Secretary/Treasurer of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association. Under Gregg's leadership, Black Gold is honored to be a recipient of the 2009 National Potato Growers "Environmental Stewardship" Award.
Hardev Singh Sangh
Hardev Singh Sangha was among the first, in India, (1960's) to adopt the CPRI protocols for seed multiplication and start commercial seed production. "Seed Plot Technique." His greatest achievement was establishing Punjab grown potato seed in most of India's potato growing states which was earlier supplied by Himachal Pradesh. Gradually, he expanded his operations and established the "Lease-land Farming Model" in the Punjab. In the 1970's, Hardev Singh Sangha became known as the "Potato King" among the potato community and in the media. He has been the largest producer of seed potatoes in Asia for more than 40 years. Now producing over 60,000 tons of high quality seed potatoes annually under a Limited Generation Seed Program on an area of 6000 acres, preserving it in self-owned Refrigerated Storage and supplying it to various states in India. The seed program is supported by a Tissue Culture Facility & a Plant Pathology Laboratory for disease testing including ELISA testing for 6 viruses.
Joop N. (Johannes Nicolaas) Stet
J.N. Stet has been one of the most remarkable figures in the European potato business. As son of a Dutch potato and vegetable grower, he succeeded in creating a new trade company, one of the few individual private breeding companies which created some very successful new potato varieties such as Timate, Donald, Columbus, Bellini and Exquisa .
After his active career in business J.N. Stet assumed responsibility by taking the lead in European business associations via the presidency of Europatat, the European Union of the Potato Trade and CELCAA, the European Liaison Committee for the Agricultural and Agri-Food Trade. J.N. Stet has been recognized for his career in the potato sector by the Dutch Queen Beatrix with the title of "knight in the order of Orange Nassau" in 1998.