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The Peruvian Potato: The Answer for Fighting Global Hunger and Poverty, Potato Museum To Open 2nd Half of 2009

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potatoIf you go to the supermarket here in the U.S. most likely you will find maybe three, four, ok…five types of potatoes. Did you know there are thousands of types of potatoes…and one country in the world holds all of them? Yep, all just in Peru! Check out this BBC story about this year’s Peruvian potato boom. Particularly as rice and wheat prices rise around the world, the Peruvian potato is a perfect alternative and even provides nutrition that other products can’t.

The potato originated in the Andean highlands and was first domesticated in the southeast of Peru about 7000-8000 years ago. Spanish explorers brought the potato plant from South America to Spain in the mid-16th century and then spread throughout other European countries.

And if you are planning to visit Peru next year, you might want to check out the Potato Museum which is currently under construction and is expected to open the second half of 2009 at the headquarters of the International Potato Center (Centro Internacional de la Papa – CIP) located in La Molina – that’s just 30-40 minutes away from the main tourist area in Lima, Peru. CIP maintains the largest collection of potatoes in the world, including almost 5000 varieties of about 100 wild species. The collection is maintained in trust under the auspices of the United Nations.

The United Nations named 2008 the “International Year of the Potato” naming the potato a staple food in the diet of the world’s population and calling the need to focus world attention on the role that the potato can play in providing food security and eradicating poverty in support of achieving internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

A whole array of events has taken place this year. In fact, today Sunday, November 30 in Argentina, ALAP 2008 will convene experts from all over the world (including the U.S., Holland, Canada, France, and other Latin American countries) to advance the use and commercialization of the potato around the world. CIP’s Peruvian representatives will be talking about potato biotechnology, genetics, among other topics. There are four more events happening in the UN-FAO’s agenda around the 2008 potato international campaign: a Potato Exhibition in Rome, Italy; the Global Potato Conference in New Delhi, India, a Potato Festival in Kemorovo in the Russian Federation, as well as the 7th World Potato Congress in Christchurch, New Zealand.

And if you are interested in getting into the details of what CIP has planned for 2009-2011, click here (and it’s in English).

For some interesting potato facts, click here, but here is a snapshot:

  • The potato is the most important root and tuber crop in the world.
  • The potato is the 3rd most important food crop in the world, after rice and wheat.
  • The potato yields more nutritious food more quickly on less land and in harsher climates than any other major crop.
  • Potatoes are rich in protein, calcium and vitamin C
  • Potatoes can be harvested in the tropics within 50 days of planting – a third of the time it takes in colder climates.
  • Potatoes contribute to health by providing calories and providing nutrients.

Here are some videos you might want to check out:

  • United Nations video (not CNN as the tag says) on the Peruvian potato, including images of the International Potato Center (the video is 4:30 minutes only, the rest is repeated)
  • United Nations video about the “International Year of the Potato”
  • Fun video on just some of the different types of potatoes
  • Fun ads “Este Pechito Come Papa” (This One Here Eats Potato) by the Peruvian Agricultural Ministry – part 1 and part 2

So now that you know at least the highlights of the Peruvian potato story, hope you stop by at the Potato Museum on your next trip to Peru, whenever you are at the store you can tell your friends where the world’s largest variety of potatoes is, and now you know how you can help the world in fighting poverty by just buying potato — and you will also help generate jobs in Peruvian agricultural families, and share the idea of helping poor countries around the world consume the potato and fight hunger and malnourishment.


One Response

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  1. A wonderful resource for those of us who are promoting the potato. Thank you.



    December 25, 2008 at 6:12 pm

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