The International Potato Center (CIP) is conserving the future of potato genetic diversity in the world’s largest potato cryobank and setting new standards to transform the way that other priority clonal crops like sweetpotato and yams are held in safe storage. These innovations ensure we have an essential backup collection of the clonal crops that 300 million smallholders in developing countries depend on – for their food security and livelihoods.
South, Central America
In the Peruvian Andes, “potato custodians” are preserving hundreds of varieties of our humble tuber. In this CNN video, aired a couple of days ago, you will meet one of the hundreds of Latin American “custodians” of indigenous potato varieties. There are about 4,000 native potato varieties in the world, and most of them are grown in the Andes. Only a handful are available in supermarkets around the world. Climate change is threatening agricultural systems, making this kind of diversity an insurance policy for our future food security.
Climate change is making it harder for farmers to grow enough food to feed their families. A new potato variety called CIP-Matilde, developed by the International Potato Center (CIP) with support from the Crop Trust, is the latest example of using the wild relatives of crops to adapt our agriculture to new threats. CIP is preparing to release CIP-Matilde in Peru.
Flying into the Andes mountains of Ecuador, XAG Agricultural Drones are recently introduced to a series of on-farm spray trials for high-altitude specialty crops. The demonstrations on potato fields have presented the high potential of fully autonomous drones in reducing labour cost and agricultural pesticide exposure. The agile agricultural drone would be a powerful tool to promote sustainable farming in Ecuador’s 3.2 million hectares of cultivable soil.
In response to the challenges of climate change, growing demands for food, and persistent malnutrition, crop breeders across the Global South are developing more resilient, productive and nutritious potato varieties. The G+ Tools – a new gender-responsive toolkit for breeding developed by the International Potato Center and the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas – promises to address this barrier by advancing a holistic framework to evaluate what traits men and women, farmers and consumers want in their potato, sweetpotato, cassava, and other crop varieties.
How could an Andean tuber persuade the world, in just a few centuries, to adopt it so completely? Diego Arguedas Ortiz explains in this great article: What made the potato so irresistible was its unrivalled nutritional value, its relative easiness to cultivate as compared to some major cereals, its ability to easily navigate wars and tax censuses due to its knack for hiding underground from collectors, and in particular, its camaraderie with working men and women in the fields.
‘In time of test, family is best’: How food system sustainability relies on the potato’s ‘wild relatives’
Looking ahead to the next 50 years, potato researchers and farmers have significant concerns about producing enough food under the stressors of climate change. However, a potential solution exists within the potato “family”, the International Potato Center (CIP), based in Lima, Peru says in a recent blog post. We republish the full post below.
Chuno comes from the indigenous Aymara word ch’unu. It is also practiced in Peru, but its origins are uncertain. Archeologist Jedu Sagarnaga believes this conservation method was developed “probably during the Formative Period” from around 2,000 to 200 BC. It may be even older, as 2017 tests on chuno dug up in Peru showed it was more than 5,000 years old. After it is prepared, this foodstuff lasts for decades.
Once neglected by urban consumers, Andean native potatoes are now essential ingredients for some of the most sophisticated gastronomy of the world, according to the authors of this article, published in Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues. André Devaux, Guy Hareau, Miguel Ordinola, Jorge Andrade-Piedra, and Graham Thiele write, “from colored chips to delicacy vegetables and even liquors, new products are making their way into high-income market niches.”
Potato cultivation has become a notable driver of regional and local economy in the potato producing areas in Peru. It generates intensive labor in Peru, which means around 34 million daily wages per season for small family farming producers, the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation (Midagri) reported. “Although potato cultivation generates more than 110,000 fixed or permanent jobs, the most remarkable aspect is the creation of the intensive temporary jobs nationwide,” Midagri’s potato chain specialist Juan Miguel Quevedo says.
Restrain, the well-known manufacturer of anti-sprouting systems for potatoes, is expanding its business in Latin America. Since April 1, the company has been receiving assistance on the continent itself. International potato expert and agronomist Daniel Caldiz has joined Restrain as an international potato consultant. Caldiz was associated with the University of La Plata, Argentina as an agronomic researcher for more than twenty years. He then worked in research & development at McCain Foods between 2000 and 2020.
The first Peruvian vodka made from Andean native potatoes was awarded its sixth international gold medal at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, one of the most important competitions in the United States, the State-run Innovate Peru (Innovate Yourself, Peru) Program reports. It says that Vodka 14 Inkas obtained this distinction for the third consecutive year – a celebration of the intensive research and development work done to achieve a high-quality product that meets international standards.
It’s a £160million showcase for gardening science and a treasure trove of secrets. Now the Royal Horticultural Society’s new state-of-the-art Hilltop centre is preparing to welcome visitors for the first time. Prized items include a potato plant brought back by Charles Darwin from South America – preserved as a pressing. Darwin collected it on an island off Chile in 1835.
The ‘Phoenixes’ in our food systems: Women farmers in Peru safeguarding the survival of potato biodiversity
Women farmers are key leaders in the survival of potato biodiversity. During a research trip to Peru hosted by the International Potato Center (CIP) in September 2019, the author of this article – Margaret M. Zeigler – observed how they live and labor in terraced fields at extremely high altitudes, cultivating crops that face threats from frost and pests. They play a central role in native potato conservation.
Lamb Weston recently announced the arrival of Lamb Weston branded french fries in Mercosur. This was made possible through a joint venture with Sociedad Comercial del Plata in Argentina, called Lamb Weston Alimentos Modernos S.A. (AMSA). These two globally renowned companies have come together to bring the Lamb Weston brand to Foodservice in the region.
As the global population approaches 10 billion by 2050, agricultural production will need to increase by 60%. Yet with every 1
As the impacts of climate change intensify
‘Fight the blight’: CIP developed an app to help potato farmers in developing countries reduce agrochemical use
Late blight disease remains the biggest threat to potato farming globally, causing USD billions of crop loss each year. In most areas, farmers can only grow potatoes if they regularly apply fungicides, which control the highly destructive pathogen but pose risks to the environment, farmers and their families. Scientists at the International Potato Center (CIP) have developed an easy-to-use decision support tool to help farmers optimize their fungicide use.
The National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA) in Uruguay recently signed an agreement with the local agrobiotechnology company Rustikas to work together on the selection, evaluation, validation and production of seeds of new potato varieties of Uruguayan origin. The alliance will work towards a continued genetic improvement of new potato varieties. The partners will also strive to bring about an efficient Uruguayan based seed production system and supply a national multiplication network. It will be the first time that a company in Uruguay uses aeroponic technology to offer minitubers to farmers and seed growers.
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.
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 Ram
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 Paran
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.