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John Burke receives World Potato Congress Industry Award

John Burke has been announced as one of the winners of the World Potato Congress Industry Awards. John Burke is one of Ireland’s foremost experts in the area of potato agronomy.

John Burke receives World Potato Congress Industry Award

The award recognises someone who has made a lifetime of contributions to the potato industry. An Awards Ceremony took place as part of the 11th World Potato Congress which is taking place in Dublin, this week from 30 May to 2 June, 2022.

In the 1990s John returned to study to undertake a Ph.D. entitled “The effect of seed source, physiological age and desiccation date on yield and chip colour in a range of potato cultivars”.  John retired from Teagasc in 2007 having worked also on cereal disease control. In retirement he returned to his favourite crop to volunteer with Vita an Irish NGO working primarily in Ethiopia and Eritrea on potato development projects.

John Burke worked tirelessly to maximise the impact of potato, always with a focus on developing farmer’s capabilities and knowledge. He spearheaded local seed potato production on virgin community land in Chencha, Ethiopia to prevent the spread of bacterial wilt and pioneered the production of seed potatoes in mountainous regions in Eritrea to prevent viral degeneration. John has led many workshops and seminars for farmers, agronomists, regulators and extension staff in both countries.

In 2017 John wrote the book “Growing the Potato Crop” initially to capture the lessons from his seminars, but it became a labour of love and expanded in size and scope. The book was published with support from The Irish Potato Federation and in particular the late John O Shea.  It is currently available free of charge to potato agronomists in developing countries as an online resource and pdf. https://www.iverkproduce.com/wp-content/uploads/Growing-the-Potato-Crop.pdf

Accepting the award, John Burke said; “I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Romain Cools and Michael Hoey of the Local Organising Committee for the singular honour that you have conferred on me. While I acknowledge that it is an individual award, I believe that whatever modest success I have achieved it was accomplished because I was part of a gifted team. In the Teagasc years, I received support, encouragement, advice and criticism from fellow Research Staff, from Technical Staff and from Farm Staff.”

He said; “I offer sincere thanks to Vita staff in Dublin for the invitation to become involved in the work in East Africa. In Ethiopia I worked with wonderful Vita colleagues and with Staff from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. Similarly in Eritrea, Vita have a dedicated group of Staff and also I received support and encouragement from Minister Arifaine, from his staff in the Department of Agriculture and also the staff at the National Institute of Agricultural Research.”