A group of researchers from a project funded by the Fontagro organization, which includes the participation of a Bolivian university and associations that seek to safeguard the species, is looking for seeds of native potato varieties in Colombia, with the help of small farmers, to prevent their disappearance.
In the Carmen de Carupa region, extreme temperature changes and heavy rainfall, as a result of climate warming, pushed many farmers to stop planting potatoes. "There are 38 native or ancestral potato varieties being grown in the fields that have a 'genetic heritage' that makes them more resistant to droughts or high rains. However, the markets prefer more conventional tubers," stated Professor Maria del Pilar Marquez - an integral part of the project together with researchers Ismael Villanueva and Adriana Saenz.
“It's possible that we've already lost some varieties, but we want to rescue these potatoes that were sown by ancient cultures,” Saenz stated.
Farmers from Carmen de Carupa and the surrounding area - a region where, faced with the loss of crops and the lack of access to the market, farmers opted for livestock - heeded the researchers' call to obtain the few seeds of potatoes in danger of extinction.
Colombia has some 60 native varieties and 30 commercial ones, although very few reach the markets, Marquez stated. "Supermarkets should sell all the different potato varieties and there should also be other fairer marketing channels for farmers," she added.
Source: AFP / semana.com