Breeding, News March 2024, South, Central America, Varieties

HZPC’s mission in the Andes: Protecting potato diversity and supporting farmers

In the high Andes Mountains of Peru, a significant effort is underway to preserve the rich genetic diversity of potatoes, according to a news story from potato breeding company HZPC.

This region, known as the birthplace of the potato, is home to hundreds of farming families who maintain traditional landraces, contributing to the conservation of nature’s biodiversity. For a long time, these farmers received little recognition or compensation for their crucial role. However, since 2014, a transformative initiative has been in place.

HZPC, in collaboration with the International Potato Centre (CIP), has been working directly with these farmers through the AGUAPAN Association. The primary goal is to safeguard this genetic abundance and enhance the farmers’ well-being. These farmers, acting as guardians, preserve up to 300 old potato varieties each, often under challenging living conditions marked by poverty and limited access to education and healthcare.

The partnership aims to bridge the gap between the private sector and these Peruvian farmers, ensuring direct financial support. This support is seen as a recognition of their vital role in conserving and evolving genetic diversity. The initiative also involves documenting the landraces and addressing legal aspects through various organizations.

HZPC makes an annual financial contribution to around 50 families. Agrico has also been participating for several years, so that another 50 families receive financial support. The farmers decide for themselves what to do with the money. For example, they can buy fertiliser, contract labourers, or use the money for healthcare or education.

It is estimated that there are as many as 3,000 unique varieties in the Andes Mountains. Stef de Haan, researcher at the CIP for the Andean region, wonders if he has enough time to document all these varieties: “A small part of what we have documented so far can be found on WikiPapa, our own Wikipedia of landraces. My dream is that we can create a kind of field guide, but for potatoes, documenting all the old landraces and where they occur.”

Source: HZPC. Read the original article here
Photo: Credit HZPC

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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