Peru’s Potato Guardians

  • 20/11/13
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By Fergus Walker

Do you love your potatoes? They really are an amazing plant, and a staple Scottish crop, but most of us hardly give them a thought.  Through the influences of fast food culture and bargain basement supermarket monopolies, the humble potato has become defined by that most unflattering of sayings “cheap as chips”, and the taste and texture of the few varieties that you can find in the supermarkets are hardly something to celebrate. Yet in the Andes, the potato’s homeland, they are revered.

In Peru, up to 4000 varieties are being protected thanks to the help of the International Potato Centre (CIP) in Lima who are working with farmers in the Andes. This is the safeguard of the future of this vital crop – the potato is now a staple across the world due to its incredible resilience and high yield, and it was the main crop that fuelled the industrial revolution in Europe.

There is amazing work being done in preserving and developing the potato, in an exemplary partnership between scientists at the CIP and the Andean indigenous peoples.

I learnt all this from a video by Al Jazeera – there’s a really good series called Earthrise – you should have a look.


Potatoes in Peru