We are saddened to hear the news of the death of Paul Van Wymeersch, a colleague and a friend that we had the opportunity to come to know and work with for many years. Paul passed away on 25 October 2020.
Many of us were fortunate to work with Paul and got a chance to see what a great person he was. We will miss him dearly.
Paul had an immediate positive impact when he arrived in PNG 1990 as a Technical Advisor on a regional sweetpotato project. He was a popular and highly engaged colleague, always ready to provide advice and perspective on any issue. He made particularly valuable contributions to sweetpotato germplasm screening and cleaning for known pathogens. He and colleague researcher Elick Guaf were among the first to report and document significant Yield Increases in Sweet potato that had been cleansed of Pathogens.
Paul was also responsible for bringing in good performing sweetpotato cultivars from a number of countries and institutions such IITA and IBPGR. He concluded that the diversity in sweetpotato cultivars in PNG is ‘due to the spontanious germination of true seeds and active selection in the subsistence farming system’.
We would like to take the opportunity to pay tribute Paul who contributed to agricultural research, in particular sweetpotato research in PNG. It is a great loss but he has left a significant legacy including the diverse sweetpotato cultivars that our farmers grow today. We remember the critical role Paul played on sweetpotato germplasm collection and the cleaning process for pathogens.
On behalf of colleagues and the many smallholder farmers now benefitting from his work, we are grateful Paul’s valuable contribution agricultural research.
We are thinking of you, Paul. Rest in Peace.
Dr Sergie Bang
Acting Director General