In the Andean plateaus of Puno, Peru and Bolivia, ancient Waru Waru agricultural techniques, dating back 2,000 years, are being revived to combat climate change. These rectangular, raised planting beds, surrounded by water to create microclimates, protect crops like potatoes and quinoa from drought and frost. In 2023, during a severe drought, they enabled farmers to sustain food production and maintain their rural livelihoods.
South, Central America
Ecuador is experiencing an agricultural rebirth in the highlands, focusing on native potatoes. With 250,000 tons produced in 2021, small farmers are key. Partnerships between INIAP, CIP, INALPROCES, and AGROPAPA have innovated the market with colored potato chips under the Kiwa brand, leading to 80% export-driven sales increases and economic stability for farmers. This initiative supports local biodiversity and spotlights the need for continued public-private collaboration for industry growth.
‘From Pampas to Progress’: Argentinian crop specialist shares insights into ecologically intensified cropping systems
In the latest Yara Crop Nutrition podcast, the presenters delve into the heart of modern agriculture with Dr. Fernando Garcia, a renowned expert in soil fertility and crop nutrition, and Free Professor at the College of Agricultural Sciences of the National University of Mar del Plata, Argentina. Dr Garcia highlights several innovative practices that are being developed and implemented in Argentina, such as precision agriculture, drones, and satellite imagery to monitor crop health and optimize inputs.
Argentinian scientists develop first Latin American genetically edited potato to prevent enzymatic browning
Argentinian scientists from INTA are set to release Latin America’s first genetically edited potato, developed using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. This innovation, part of Dr. Matías González’s doctoral thesis, aims to inhibit the gene causing enzymatic browning, a process that affects potatoes’ flavor, texture, and nutritional value. The edited potato could significantly reduce food waste and financial losses for farmers and retailers.
Vicentina S.A., a trailblazer in Uruguay’s potato industry, celebrated its legacy and innovation at the annual Vicentina Potato Day. The event highlighted the company’s global impact, advancements in seed potato production, and commitment to sustainable practices. “Our ambitions transcend national boundaries, fostering growth regionally and globally on the bedrock of innovation, sustainability, collaboration, and trust,” says Alessandro Mietto, co-founder and partner of Vicentina S.A.
Hugo Campos, roots, tubers and banana breeding lead at CGIAR, discusses the global challenge of anemia, especially in children, in a recent article published by The Des Moines Register. Highlighting the higher prevalence in low-income countries, Campos emphasizes the potential of biofortification. The International Potato Center’s development of iron-enriched potatoes aims to combat anemia. These potatoes can provide essential iron, especially in regions with high potato consumption. This innovation offers a sustainable solution to address iron deficiencies and improve global health.
In Chile’s lush landscapes, the Contreras family’s “Papas Arcoiris” or “Rainbow Potatoes” are revolutionizing the culinary world with their vibrant hues. The company was founded by Boris Contreras Kusch along with his father, Andrés Contreras (1943-2014). Boris is also the founder of NOVASEED and PatPot Chips (Patagonian Potato Chips). He envisions a potato that transcends its staple status to become a gourmet delight. His vision is not just to create new varieties, but to elevate the potato to a gourmet ingredient, worthy of the finest dining experiences.
In the Andes, “seed guardians” are striving to protect the diverse range of over 1,300 potato varieties, deeply tied to the region’s culture and traditions. The Potato Park in Peru, established in 2002, works to preserve the potatoes’ genetic diversity and the traditions of their cultivators, while researching resilience to climate change. Efforts at the Potato Park form part of a global initiative supporting the in-situ conservation of vital food plants against climate change and other threats.
The International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru introduced a new potato variety, CIP-Matilde, designed to resist late blight disease of potatoes. Late blight caused a global loss of $6.7 billion in 2022. CIP scientists have delved into the genetic makeup of wild crops to develop this blight-resistant variety. CIP-Matilde offers hope to farmers, especially in the Andes. Its benefits extend beyond Peru, with its derivatives being shared in African countries like Kenya, aiding millions in their livelihood.
‘From stress to strength’: How salicylic acid can help to shield potato plants from water deprivation
Researchers from Brazil and Colombia studied the effects of salicylic acid (SA) on potato plants under water deficiency (WD). WD, a form of abiotic stress, leads to oxidative damage in plants, primarily due to reactive oxygen species (ROS). SA, known for its protective properties, was found to counteract the negative impacts of WD. The study revealed that SA application reduced cellular damage, enhanced nutrient uptake, and improved antioxidant activity in potato plants.
In Bolivia’s high-altitude Potosí region, erratic weather and climate changes threaten the staple potato crop, essential for local families. Historically resilient, potatoes have thrived here for 8,000 years. However, a recent “heat dome” raised temperatures to 45°C, causing Bolivia’s highest winter temperature. Potosí faces severe drought, reducing water flow significantly. Many lack daily water access, hindering crop irrigation. Silvia, a local farmer, lost most of her potato yield, leading to increased food expenses. The looming El Niño may worsen the climate crisis impacts.
The global frozen potato market is projected to grow from $60.30 Billion in 2021 to $92.70 Billion by 2031, driven by rising disposable incomes, especially in emerging economies. China’s increasing purchasing power and the expansion of fast-food chains in Latin America play significant roles. However, developed countries are witnessing a shift towards healthier food alternatives. The growth of quick-service restaurants offering budget-friendly frozen potato options further propels the market.
A study by researchers at the International Potato Center focused on improving potato resistance to late blight (LB) by incorporating LB resistance from wild potato species into cultivated potatoes. The research involved techniques like rescue pollination and sexual polyploidization to transfer beneficial traits from wild potatoes to cultivated ones. The study resulted in the development of promising sexual and tetraploid hybrids with desirable traits such as high dry matter and LB resistance. These hybrids offer potential for future potato breeding strategies but further research is needed to validate their resistance and address any undesirable traits.
Farming communities in Peru recover 226 potato varieties using ancestral practices, sustainable farming methods
Peru’s ancestral practices and sustainable development training have revitalized 226 potato varieties in high Andean regions, boosting food security and resilience against climate change. This achievement, financed by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by UN’s FAO, blends new agricultural technology with traditional methods. The initiative also empowers women, with Kusikui spearheading a digital platform for product sales.
On National Potato Day in Peru, Minister Nelly Paredes reported that processed potato exports have expanded to international markets, including the US, Canada, and Germany. The variety of products made from Peruvian potatoes, such as chips and vodka, is due to small producers’ innovation. In 2022, potato by-product exports reached 6,530 tons, worth $8 million. In Peru, she said, the potato crop is produced by 711,313 families across 19 regions.
Dutch-German company Pulsemaster continues to innovate in potato processing with its Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) systems, offering higher yield and quality in French fries and potato chips production. Pulsemaster’s PEF systems are increasingly in demand worldwide, making even tough produce like sweet potatoes easily processable.
Sprout AI Inc., in partnership with the Agriculture Innovation Institute of Panama (IDIAP), has successfully cultivated the first potato seed of the ‘Karú’ variety using its proprietary fogponics system in controlled environments in Panama. This breakthrough aims to replace imported potato seeds, predominantly from Germany, with domestic production, boosting Panama’s food security.
The twenty-ninth edition of the Latin American Potato Congress is scheduled to take place from March 28 to 31, 2023 in Puerto Varas, Los Lagos Region, Chile. The Latin American Potato Association (ALAP) and the Chilean Potato Association (ACHIPA) have jointly organized this event, which aims to bring together attendees from all sectors of the potato industry.
Lamb Weston invests $250 million in Argentina’s potato industry – with an eye on the international processing market
U.S. headquartered Lamb Weston is making significant strides in constructing a big potato processing plant with an investment of $250 million in Argentina, according to a news report by Hector Huergo for Clarin. The construction of the new plant began a year ago and is progressing on schedule in the Mar del Plata Industrial Park. The entire production of the plant will be earmarked for the international market.
Dozens of furrows lie barren in a dusty field on the Bolivian highlands. It should be replete with potato plants ready for harvest, but a deadly combination of drought and frost proved too much for the crop. “In the Bolivian highlands, we are fully experiencing the effects of climate change,” said loacel NGO Cipca technician Orlando Ticona.
Pulsemaster, a leading provider of Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) systems for the potato processing industry, earlier today announced the appointment of Ben Lemieux as Key Account Manager responsible for the Americas region. Mr. Lemieux joins Pulsemaster with 28 years of experience in the food processing industry. He is based in Canada’s New Brunswick province.
Harnessing the power of wild potatoes to feed a climate-challenged world, while reducing agrochemical use
Scientists in South America are tapping the power of wild potatoes to breed disease-resistant and resilient varieties. The recent release of the International Potato Center’s (CIP) disease-resistant CIP-Matilde variety in Peru is the result of years of work and investment in conserving and studying potato wild relatives and using them to breed potatoes that combine characteristics that consumers want with the wild potatoes’ ability to cope with diseases and climate extremes.
Though wine is most often made using grapes, Winemaker Magazine explains that a plethora of other fermentable ingredients can be used as a base for your bottle of wine. But, as Nick Johnson reports for The Daily Meal, arguably the most unexpected wine base is a peculiar potato indigenous to Peru. VinePair notes that high in the Andean mountains, a man named Manuel Choqque [also called the ‘potato whisperer’] is transforming tubers into wine.
Towards decarbonizing the production of potatoes: Yara wants to turn potato chips climate friendly in Argentina
Yara has signed a memorandum of understanding with El Parque Papas to deliver fossil free green fertilizers to the biggest potato farmer in Argentina. This marks an important step towards making one of the most popular snacks in the country climate friendly, Yara says in a press release. El Parque Papas is the biggest singular potato farmer in Argentina. They supply 14,000 metric tons of potatoes every year to the Argentinian potato industry, including production of some of the most popular chips in the country.