The humble potato is exalted in the mountains of Peru

Native to the Andes in Peru and northwest Bolivia, potatoes were domesticated more than 10,000 years ago. And yet new varieties are being discovered all the time. Potato banks — like the one in the Pisac region of the Andes that stores seeds in a climate-controlled vault for 1,300 varieties of potatoes — are always searching for new varieties, as are dozens of creative Peruvian chefs on the lookout for wild and unusual indigenous ingredients. Freeze-drying the potato for chuño was just one method used to increase its life after harvest. Running or walking was the chief mode of transportation for most ancient Andean peoples (certainly the Incas); they could easily carry dried potatoes with them and make a quick stew with local herbs, chiles and water from a mountain stream whenever hunger called. Dried potatoes in Peru come in many forms. They can look like pebbles — hard and smooth, in white or purple. They can look like large gravel, with different colors. But they can also be soft, tasting and smelling as funky as fermented bean curd or ripe cheese. Each has a different flavor and texture. More

Peru: Missed opportunities for native potatoes

Image result for Peru: Missed opportunities for native potatoesTruth is that there are many Peruvian products with a huge potential that are being wasted due to a lack of organization. Agroindustrial engineer Ronald Rimari Barzola, a consultant in frozen agricultural exports who has a special interest in the development of the Peruvian native potato industry, recently spoke about such an opportunity. Some weeks ago, during a conference about agricultural development, he recalled that there was a processing plant for native potatoes in the district of Chilca that had managed to export more than half a million dollars of native potatoes between 2015 and 2016. At the beginning of this year, he said, the processing plant had a great opportunity, which unfortunately they had to let go. Rimari considers that, if producers worked together, there could be the possibility of carrying out a commercial project of this magnitude. More

Peruvian potato producers: ‘We have no money to buy seed, to plant potatoes, or to buy fertilizer’

Related imagePotato producers in Peru are threatening to go on an indefinite strike starting April 23 because the government has not complied with the agreements reached at the beginning of February. “We want to be heard [by the government] before going on strike. We are here (in Congress) to ask the new Minister of Agriculture to meet with us so that we can solve this problem,” said Victor Vega Supo, the head of the National Agrarian Coordinators, during a press conference held by the National Convention of Peruvian Agriculture in Congress. “We have no money to buy seeds, to plant potatoes, or to buy fertilizers. We are undercapitalized and have no support. How are we going to guarantee people food if we have no money to produce it?” 90% of potato producers have run out of working capital, he said. (Source: FreshPlaza)

Venezuela’s potato production down 71% because of lack of seed and fertilizer

Venezuela’s potato production has been severely affected this year by a lack of seed and fertilizers. In the first 3 months of 2018, the number of hectares planted did not reach 3,500 hectares in the country, a much smaller number compared to the same period last year. Potato producers planted 12,000 hectares between January and March during 2017. This means there has been a 71% drop in the hectares planted. Gerson Pabon, the general director of Fedeagro, said potato seed was insignificant and that they hadn’t been certified by Agropatria or any other company since 2014 because the State had not awarded them more foreign currency. “All we have is the little seed that is bought in Colombia. In addition, no fertilizers have been purchased. That’s why producers did not plant enough and can’t risk doing it anyway,” he said. More

New World Bank book on Peruvian agriculture highlights native potato value chains

A book on Peruvian agriculture recently published by the World Bank highlights the dynamism of the sector and its impressive growth in the past decade. However, closer analysis shows how the vast majority of smallholders in the Andean highlands and Amazon have seen little progress. Yet there is some good news for Andean farmers, since a growing number have been able to access better-paying markets for native potato varieties thanks to years of work by the International Potato Center (CIP) and partners. The highlands, where potato is the principal crop of more than 80% of farmers, have higher levels of poverty and malnutrition than the national average. CIP coordinated the Papa Andina Program that brought together public institutions, businesses and NGOs in Peru in a project called INCOPA, in order to tap the potential of the country’s approximately 3,000 potato varieties for reducing rural poverty. Sales of native potatoes increased by more than 70% and prices for them increased 150%. The total value of native potato exports rose from US$821,000 in 2010 to US$2.5 million in 2015, mostly from packaged snacks. More

Roots: Study traces the origins of the Colorado Potato Beetle

A new study from a University of Maryland-led team of researchers confirms the long held idea that the Colorado potato beetle, by far the most damaging insect to the U.S. — and Canadian — potato industry, originated in the Great Plains region of the United States. The findings dispel more recent theories that this beetle may have come from Mexico or other divergent populations. The beetle is consistently a major issue for potato farmers in North America and Europe. By determining the origins of this pest and better understanding its genetic makeup, this new investigative evolutionary biology work could advance efforts to develop better pest management strategies that combat the potato beetle’s unique pesticide resistance abilities.  Continue reading

Lay’s-PepsiCo sees ‘huge opportunities’ for premium potato chips in Argentina

Pablo García - General Manager PepsiCo Alimentos ArgentinaWhile Argentina’s salted-snack consumption is low at one kilo per person compared with the nine kilos in the US in 2017, the market has plenty of potential, says Pablo García, general manager for foods at PepsiCo Argentina. Latin America’s southern cone, comprising Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, has large development when it comes to potato chips and the segment represents half of Argentina’s salted-snack market. “Our research shows there is a large group of people looking to try new products from wine to ice-cream and salted snacks,” says García. Taking advantage of this interest, the company launched four flavors in Argentina in 2017 under its Lay’s branding. But, he says, trends in Argentina go beyond flavors. “We’re seeing see huge opportunities in developing the premium segment, because consumers now value texture. In response to that, we launched the first kettle chip in Argentina under Lay’s gourmet line, which has a harder texture compared with other chips”. Report by Foodnavigator-usa.com

Colombia questioned about anti-dumping rules against Dutch potato sector

Image result for Colombia questioned about anti-dumping rules against Dutch potato sectorThe Netherlands has appealed to the European Commission (EC). They want the Commission to address the Colombian authorities about their anti-dumping regulations against the Dutch potato sector. According to the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the Netherlands, Sigrid Kaag: “On 3 August 2017, the Colombian authority instigated an anti-dumping procedure against frozen potato products from the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. In an interim report released on 1 November last year, the Colombian authorities established that dumping is taking place but decided not to adopt provisional anti-dumping measures. The decision concerning definite anti-dumping regulations is expected in the second half of March 2108.” Dutch potato processing companies are of the opinion that the current Colombian anti-dumping procedure has both substantive as well as procedural shortcomings. In Brazil and South Africa, there are definitive anti-dumping regulations against frozen potato products from, among other countries, the Netherlands. More

Andean potatoes take the world stage, but tough times lie ahead

Related imageFor the first time in its history, the World Potato Congress will take place in Latin America, the “birthplace” of the potato. From May 27 to 31 of this year, hundreds of people from around the world will descend on Cusco, Peru, to attend the 10th annual event, organized by the not-for-profit World Potato Congress Inc. It’s timely, really, that the World Potato Congress is meeting in this part of the world at this time. While it’s exciting to learn more about how the modern-day potato evolved from its humble beginnings high in the Andes, it’s also worth noting that climate change could be threatening this ancient crop – and its peoples. Kenneth Feeley, at the University of Miami’s department of biology, and fellow biologist, Richard Tito, a native Quechua Indian from the region, discovered that tough times lie ahead for rural farmers growing the Andes’ staple crops – corn and potatoes. The two recently co-authored a study about this phenomenon. More

New pest and disease resistant potato variety touted as ‘the best in Costa Rica’

Related imageThe Elbe potato variety is said to be the best potato variety bred locally in Costa Rica if compared to other popular varieties, such as the Floresta (white potato), Granola (yellow potato), or Unica varieties (red skin). Elbe was bred over the course of ten years by researcher Arturo Brenes, from the Laboratory of Plant Biotechnologies (LBP) of the Center for Agronomic Research in Costa Rica, and lisenced to Agroservicios del Surco SA. According to Brenes, the variety proves to be largely immune to commonly found pests and diseases in Costa Rica, including late blight and leaf miner, and its resistance will generate significant cost savings for farmers when it comes to output on pesticides and fungicides. Field trials conducted by Brenes confirmed that Elbe wasn’t affected by fungi or soil bacteria either. The variety is said to have a high dry matter content and low levels of reducing sugars, characteristics essential for the potato processing industry. Elbe is high yielding – up to 50 tons per hectare during a 120-day life cycle. More