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Biodiversity

Preserving Peru's potato power

Knobby, round, smooth, oblong, purple-mottled - Peru is home to thousands of potato varieties. Researchers are teaming up with local farmers to exchange know-how to protect the country’s diversity of spuds.

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Project goal: preserving the diversity of potatoes and securing food supply

Implementation: The International Potato Center collects, analyzes and conserves seeds and plants of all potato varieties in the world by relying on farmers’ knowledge. The documented genetic diversity of the potato is meant to help identify robust varieties that can withstand different weather conditions

Biological diversity: Peru has more than 4,000 potato varieties. In addition, there are a further 1,000 varieties from other countries

Brownish grey, knobby and no-frills - that’s usually what potatoes are like, right? Not in Peru where the tuber comes in all colors and sizes and, at times, in curious shapes. The country is home to more than 4,000 potato varieties. Potatoes are one of the most important foods worldwide. The tuber was first imported to Europe by Europeans traveling from Peru - though only a few varieties grow here. The International Potato Center (CIP) wants to save this diversity of tubers as climate change increasingly demands more resilient varieties. The potatoes of the future are currently stored in the cool storage rooms and gene banks of the CIP while their counterparts are flourishing in the high mountains of Peru. Researchers are working closely with the local population by providing them with purified seeds for better harvests. In return, the scientists are drawing on local knowledge about potatoes and which varieties are best suited to changing soil and weather conditions.

A film by Katja Losch

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