IPK Leibniz-Institut
EUCARPIA invites you to Leipzig

The European Association for Research on Plant Breeding Cultivation (EUCARPIA) is organising its quadrennial General Congress in Leipzig from 18 to 23 August. EUCARPIA President Andreas Börner, scientist at the IPK, answers the most important questions in a preliminary interview.

How many participants are you expecting in Leipzig?

We are expecting more than 250 participants from 42 countries. In addition to many European countries, the USA, Australia, South Africa and South Korea are also represented. All of this once again emphasises once again the international character of the General Congress.

What is the situation for last-minute registrants? Is it still possible to register now?

Yes, registrations are still possible until 15 July.

Why did you choose Leipzig as the venue?

There were two main reasons for doing so: Firstly, we wanted to offer an excursion to the IPK during the congress, and secondly, Leipzig is not as well-known to many people as Hamburg, Berlin or Munich. With this choice, we also wanted to arouse a certain curiosity about the city, which has a lot to offer and has come back into focus abroad, not least due to the matches at the European Football Championships.

What topics have you chosen to focus on?

Topics include genetic resources, biotic and abiotic stress, bioinformatics and genomics as well as new breeding technologies, which we also use at the IPK and which have recently played an increasingly important role in the public debate in Germany and Europe. 

Which presentation are you personally particularly looking forward to?

My honest answer is all of them, of course. But I suspect you want a rather selective answer. I am particularly looking forward to the presentations by Vania Azevedo, who I have not yet met in person. She is a young researcher and the head of the genebank at the International Potato Centre in Peru. And I'm already looking forward to the lecture by Hans Braun, the long-standing head of the wheat breeding programme at CIMMYT in Mexico. They are two of the ten speakers we have invited to the congress. There will be a total of 90 lectures and just as many poster presentations.

You organised the current congress with your IPK colleague Ulrike Lohwasser, also at the helm of EUCARPIA as Secretary General. How did you divide up the work, and how did that work?

Ulrike Lohwasser did the lion's share of the practical implementation, such as visa issues, invitations, and the organisation of the excursions. Franziska Gläser also supported her from the IPK's Human Resources group. I took care of the scientific organisation of the congress, i.e. the main topics and the speakers. And, of course, it was a great advantage that we had known each other for years and could organise everything centrally from the IPK.

You will be retiring next year after 40 years at the IPK. But that's not all: the congress also marks the end of your four-year EUCARPIA presidency. Isn't this the perfect end to your professional life as a scientist?

I see it as another highlight rather than a conclusion. And there will be no retirement either. I will remain on the EUCARPIA Board as a "Past President" for another four years. 

What is the significance of your presidency for the IPK?

For an institute like the IPK, it is a figurehead, especially as Ulrike Lohwasser and I are the first Germans to head EUCARPIA since the mid-1980s. Many new contacts have been made at numerous conferences and workshops, which could later lead to joint projects.

And what about your successor? Are there already candidates?

Yes, Maria Raffaella Ercolano from Italy is standing for election as the new President in Leipzig. She specialises in tomato resistance research and has been on the EUCARPIA Board as President-designate for the past four years. It is important to note that there is an overlapping system at the top of EUCARPIA. You are president-designate for four years, president for four years and then past president for four years.

With the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, two major crises also occurred during your presidency. To what extent did this limit your room for manoeuvre?

It was anything but easy, of course. At the beginning of my presidency, I had set myself the goal of increasing the number of our members, especially in Eastern Europe. We already had a lot of contacts in Russia, for example. However, this could no longer be realised after the start of the war in Ukraine. As far as coronavirus is concerned, I was elected president in 2020 by an online vote. That's why I'm happy and grateful that we can all meet again in person in Leipzig in August.   

Programme, registration and all information: