South, Central America

CIP: Putting the world’s largest potato collection in the deep freeze

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.

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The ‘potato custodians’ in the Andes who are safeguarding this crop’s future

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.

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XAG demonstrates potential of fully autonomous drones for potato farmers

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.

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‘G+ Tools’: A new gender-responsive toolkit for breeding

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.

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‘Nutritional giant, friend of peasants, rulers and sages’: How the humble potato changed the world

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.

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‘Chuno’: An Andean dehydrated potato foodstuff that lasts for decades after preparation

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.

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‘Native potatoes: From forgotten crop to culinary boom and market innovation’

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.”

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Potato cultivation in Peru creates 34 million daily wages for small family farming producers

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.

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Restrain expands in Latin America, appoints Daniel Caldiz as international potato consultant

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.

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Peruvian native potato vodka awarded sixth international gold medal

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.

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UK horticultural centre features pressing of potato plant collected by Darwin in South America

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.

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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.

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Lamb Weston branded french fries arrive in South America

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.

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‘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.

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INIA and Rustikas to cooperate on the development of new Uruguayan potato varieties

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.

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Pandemic pushes Peru

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.

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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 Ram

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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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