South, Central America

Pandemic pushes Peru’s vital peasant farmers to the brink

Small scale farmers are responsible for the food that lands on 70 percent of Peruvian dinner tables, officials say, but months of pandemic lockdown and a souring economy have left many bankrupt and questioning whether to plant again. Strict quarantines early in the pandemic made transporting beans, potatoes and other crops to markets difficult. Prices plummeted as demand dropped. Official data shows the price for potatoes dropped at least 30 percent between March and July.

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CIP scientists developing digital tools to optimize irrigation water use in potato production

Potato has good potential to help the world meet that challenge, since it produces more calories per liter of water than other major staple crops. Scientists at the International Potato Center (CIP) are trying to enhance that potential through the development of digital tools to optimize the use of water in irrigation. A team of researchers led by crop ecophysiologist David Ramírez has used a combination of conventional and thermal cameras to study how potato plants react to water stress. They also developed open-access software called Thermal Image Processor (TIPCIP) to analyze those images.

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Researchers find new way to protect plants from fungal infection, including late blight of potatoes

Widespread fungal disease in plants can be controlled with a commercially available chemical that has been primarily used in medicine until now. This discovery was made by scientists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the University of the State of Paraná in Brazil. The team administered acetohydroxamic acid onto the plants, a substance also used to treat harmful bacteria in the human stomach, and which is known to inhibit the breakdown of urea. The acid was also found to be effective against numerous other pathogens which cause diseased plants, for example, late blight in potatoes.

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New study on measuring efficiency in potato landraces: How far are we from the optimum?

A new publication by scientists from the International Potato Center (CIP) highlights the usefulness of combining crop growth model, remote sensing, and plant ecophysiological tools to assess genetic efficiencies in potato landraces. In order to improve potato yield and yield prediction, a better understanding of potato physiology and modeling is needed, especially for the Andean region where climate change is affecting traditional farming practices and where potato is a staple food.

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Key Technology announces multi-million dollar partnership with Brazilian potato processing company

Key Technology, a member of the Duravant family of operating companies, announces they are teaming up with Bem Brasil, the largest potato processor in Brazil, to add a new state-of-the-art potato strip processing line to Bem’s Perdizes facility. This multimillion dollar purchase of Bem Brasil includes six VERYX® digital sorters, an ADR EXOS® automatic defect removal system, three Sliver Sizer Removers and 57 Iso-Flo® vibratory conveyors on a line designed to process 30 metric tons of frozen french fries per hour.

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‘Unsung potato heroes’: Indigenous peoples hold the past and future of food in their hands

August 9 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples – a celebration of the uniqueness of the traditions of Quechua, Huli, Zapotec, and thousands of other cultures, but also of the universality of potatoes, bananas, beans, and the rest of the foods that nourish the world. These crops did not arise out of thin air. For centuries, crop diversity has enriched the world, but has been taken out of the hands of Indigenous people in doing so. That story is only beginning to shift as the rest of the world starts to give Indigenous farmers the respect they are due.

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CIP’s 2019 annual report celebrates a year of discovery, innovation and impact

Technology to accelerate potato breeding in Lima… state of the art tools to diagnose crop diseases in the fields of Uganda… and fresh hearty varieties to boost incomes for smallholder farmers in India. These are just a few of the accomplishments of the International Potato Center (CIP) in 2019, which is commemorating those feats, and others, in its annual report, released this week. The annual report presents compelling snapshots of CIP’s work with 161 partners in 19 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, telling stories about relief work with sweetpotato in Mozambique and simple storage innovations that are putting more income in the pockets of Ethiopian farmers.

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Bayer launches carbon capture program for U.S. and Brazil farmers

Bayer AG launched a pilot program in the United States and Brazil on Tuesday that will pay farmers for capturing carbon in cropland soils, making it the latest agriculture company to capitalize on environmental initiatives. The company seeks to enroll about 1,200 row crop farmers in its Bayer Carbon Initiative in the first season, scale up in upcoming seasons, and ultimately expand to other countries, company executives said.

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TOMRA Food opens new headquarters in Latin America

TOMRA Food has opened a new regional headquarters in Santiago, Chile. This means TOMRA Food and its two sister companies, Compac and BBC Technologies, now all have a strong presence in the region. Michel Picandet, Head of TOMRA Food, commented: “TOMRA Food is growing in Latin America, as it is elsewhere in the world, and Chile is the perfect location for expanding our presence here.

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Farmers Day: Peru among world’s top potato producers

Within the framework of the Farmers Day —which takes place today— Peru managed to consolidate its position among the top 15 producers of this Andean tuber in the world, given the active participation of over 700,000 small producers, who cultivate potatoes in 19 regions across the country. World-renowned as the center of origin of potato, Peru has thousands of native potato varieties.

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What is the value of using crop wild relatives in potato breeding?

It may surprise you to learn that wild potatoes grow like weeds in South America. While farmers in the United States battle weeds like pigweed and lamb’s quarters, farmers in the Andes Mountains have to keep weedy potatoes in check. There are over 100 wild potato species and breeders have just scratched the surface for new variety development. As climate change and a growing population put additional strains on potato growers, we will continue to explore the possibilities offered by this rich genetic resource.

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Peru cements its position among top 15 potato producers in the world

Within the framework of the National Potato Day, which takes place May 30, Peru has consolidated its position among the top 15 producers of this Andean tuber in the world, given the active participation of over 700,000 small producers, who cultivate potatoes in 19 regions across the country. The results of the Andean tuber production confirm the position of Peru as the 14th world producer of potatoes.

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A ‘nutritional giant’ at work: How the humble potato changed the world

A staple food for cultures across the globe, the tuber has emerged as a nutritional giant and the friend of peasants, rulers and sages. Even today, its possibilities are endless, writes Diego Arguedas Ortiz in an extensive and thorough investigation on the history and global influence of the potato. The article was published by the BBC Travel magazine, and we publish a short summary here.

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Strengthening innovation to empower women potato growers in the Andes

The world is faced with a rising demand for food due to population growth, changes in dietary habits and the availability of agricultural resources. As a result farmers need to be more efficient and productive. The story of Gaby Quispe of Patacamaya, Bolivia, is typical and gives a simple illustration of how to achieve gender equity and the empowerment of rural women through the use of climate-smart technologies in potato production.

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CIP researchers designed a smartphone app for potato irrigation monitoring

Recent research by scientists and students from CIP and the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, in Peru, confirmed that images from infrared (a.k.a. thermographic) cameras can be used to detect water stress in potato crops, and thereby guide more efficient water use. CIP scientists recently developed a new, more user-friendly version of TIPCIP for the smartphones.

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CIP and partners publish a ‘Manual for seed potato production using aeroponics’

The full title of this new book, authored by scientists working at CIP, INIAP, and CORPOICA in Latin America, is Manual for seed potato production using aeroponics. Ten years of experience in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Aeroponics is a technique for producing potato minitubers (corresponding to the pre-basic seed category) in formal seed systems. aeroponics is part of an integrated proposal of CIP and its partners to manage seed potato degeneration.

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The Peruvian potato: A starchy spud that can adapt to every eco-system

The humble potato was cultivated during the Inca Empire and for thousands of years before. When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century, they encountered the potato and brought it to Europe. Today it is grown almost everywhere and considered a top food staple along with rice, corn and wheat. By the year 2050, the global population is expected to[Read More…]

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Argentina: Field trials with non-browning CRISPR-edited potatoes start

In a study published recently in the Frontiers in Plant Science magazine, scientists from Argentina and Sweden reported they have edited a polyphenol oxidase gene in potatoes (Solanum tubersoum L.). After successfully editing the gene, they obtained tubers free of enzymatic browning. With the approval of the National Agricultural Biotechnology Advisory Commission, field trials began that “will … generate data to register[Read More…]

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Good yields but high costs for Argentine potatoes

Before the imminent start of the new potato harvest in the southeast of Buenos Aires, engineers Sergio Costantino (director of Argenpapa) and Ricardo Bergonzi (private advisor) analyzed the profitability of this crop, which hasn’t yielded positive figures for farmers during the last two campaigns. According to them, “in this campaign, there will be average yields that can significantly exceed those[Read More…]

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Concern in Peru as Bolivia decides to stop imports

The Bolivian horticultural product marketers’ decision to cease importing agricultural products to prioritize their national production has generated concern among Peruvian farmers, mainly among potato and onion producers. This decision is part of the Family Agriculture Policy measures that the Ministry of Rural Development and Land of Bolivia implemented last year, that seek to promote plans so that producers improve[Read More…]

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Potato war: Colombia takes anti-dumping measures against European frozen french fries

In October of last year, the European Commission (EC) lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about the import tariffs Colombia has imposed on frozen french fries from Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. According to the European Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, the European Union (EU) considers this South American country’s anti-dumping measures to be ‘entirely unjustified’. The dispute[Read More…]

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How Peru’s potato museum could stave off world food crisis

th a climate changing faster than most crops can adapt and food security under threat around the world, scientists have found hope in a living museum dedicated to a staple eaten by millions daily: the humble potato. High in the Peruvian Andes, agronomists are looking to the ancestral knowledge of farmers to identify genetic strains which could help the tubers[Read More…]

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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