10th World Potato Congress a tribute to Peru, the origin of modern-day potatoes

 A farmer picks potatoes on community land in the high Andean region of Huancavelica, the area of Peru with the most native varieties of potatoes. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPSPotatoes were first taken out of Peru, their Andean region of origin, 458 years ago and introduced to the rest of the world, and then went on to feed the world, according to a news report by the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency. Half a millennium later, potatoes have spread throughout the planet but there are challenges to preserve the crop’s biodiversity as a source of food security, as well as the rights of the peasants who sustain this legacy for humanity in Peru. The hosting of the 10th World Potato Congress between May 27 and 31 in the ancient city of Cuzco, the centre of what was the Inca empire in the south of the Peruvian Andes, is a recognition of Peru as the main source of potatoes. Peru maintains the largest amount of potato germplasm in the world, and great commercial potential. 

“Peru has 3,500 of the roughly 5,000 commercial potato varieties in the world. Culturally, potatoes are a way of life, a feeling, a mystique in Peru. From the point of view of commercial production, hosting the congress is an opportunity to show the world new products such as flours, flakes, liqueurs and fresh potatoes,” engineer Jesus Caldas, managing director of the National Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA) in Peru, which leads the Organising Committee of the upcoming world congress, told IPS. 

Under the theme “Returning to the origin for a better future” and promoted by the World Potato Congress (WPC Inc), the tenth edition will reflect on biodiversity, food security and business. “The designation of Peru as host of the congress is important; the scientific community involved in the global innovation of potato production will return to the source of its origin and diversity, which is key for food security,” Gonzalo Tejada, national coordinator of Projects of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a member of the Organising Committee of the congress, told IPS.

Read the full story on the IPS website