China is currently the world’s largest producer and consumer of potatoes, with some 5 million hectares installed. The potatoes are valued there for their nutritional contribution and minerals, such as iron and zinc and vitamin A, and are a way of life for the people.
According to Mei Xurong, the vice president of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences of China (CAAS), the potato saved the Chinese population in the great famine of 1960, at which point its cultivation became popular in China.
In that sense, China is marking a precedent, considering that tuber consumption has stagnated in industrialized countries, such as the United States and Europe.
“The potato has been a fundamental food. It was fundamental for the Andes and Europe during the Industrial Revolution and now it is essential for Africa and Asia,” said Oscar Ortiz, the deputy director of research for the development of CIP.
Today China is focused on developing varieties that are tolerant to drought, since its production is focused on irrigation, says Ortiz.
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