Bolivian potato farmers are responding to the threat of climate change by combining the experience of previous generations with climate-smart technologies and practices. This process includes reviving native varieties that are more resistant to cold and drought. Growers in Patacamaya – a municipality in La Paz department’s Altiplano region – have been working during the pandemic on native potato varieties, looking at their properties. These potato varieties are produced for subsistence purposes and date back many generations have been on a sharply downward trend relative to fast-growing commercial species.
According to Santiago Velez, representative of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in Bolivia, his nation has more than 1,500 varieties of native potatoes and many of them are able to adapt to climate variations. Velez said it is important to rediscover traditional values and knowledge, such as respect for lunar cycles, as part of the process of adapting to climate change.
In that regard, he stressed the need to learn about Bolivia’s native potato varieties and combine them with “climate-smart” cultivation techniques.
Velez said climate-smart agriculture implies a “host of practices” that merge science with ancestral knowledge and which can help establish which species are most appropriate for planting in areas with specific altitude, humidity, temperature and soil characteristics, while also taking into account cultural aspects.