Nicaragua Peru Roumania Turkey
In Nicaragua grows a plant called MALANGA. It grows in humid places and along small streams.
The roots are eatable and are served cooked and mashed or fried.
Peru is not only the country of origin of the potato, it is also the country with the largest number of varieties. Apparently, there would be more than 4000 !
The number of peasants producing potatoes is estimated to be around 600.000.
The total cultivated surface being 300.000 ha.
National production is about 3,7 million tons per year.
Each Peruvian eats about 80 kg of potatoes per year.
Native potatoes are still today the most important cultural aspect of the highlands (around 3 to 4000 m high).
Their nutritional value is important. Their shape, interior and external color, their flavor and texture form the basis of the andine culture.
These native potatoes are grown following a very traditional pattern. The fields are small and situated on the slopes of the mountains. A family sometimes grows up to 300 varieties.
The cultivation is done using traditional utensils. Like for instance the « chakitaqlla », or andine spade.
It makes it possible to work on the very steep slopes.
The andine potatoes are an important biodiversity potential.
The CIP (centro internacional de la papa) in Lima has around 4000 potato varieties.
The Peruvian potato
Whilst on a recent visit to the CIP (Centro Internacional de la Papa) in Lima, Peru, we learnt the following interesting facts:
There are around 187 different species of wild potato growing in Latin America.
They are actually found growing along a narrow strip of land starting in the south of the United States going all the way down through Central America, along the chain of Andes Mountains and into Chile and Argentina (see the map and list of countries below).
Most of these plants have very small tubers. We have scale models of them at the Potato Chip Museum in Bruges.
About twenty of these plants however do have much bigger, in some cases, very much bigger, tubers.
These are the varieties that over time were cultivated by the local populations living in the Andes.
There are 8 species but more than 4,000 varieties of cultured potatoes.
One of their characteristics is that they contain more than 36% of dry matter, whereas potatoes grown in Europe only contain around 22%.
These native potatoes contain pigments. The colour yellow is principally due to the presence of carotenes whereas the colours red, purple and blue are due to the presence of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants and help to prevent cancer.
If we compare the tenor of a blueberry to that of a potato, we obtain a ratio of 1 to 20.
There are 8 species of which 6 are sweet and 2 are bitter:
- the YURAQ WAÑA
- and the AZUL KANCHILLO
They can be made fit for consumption by exposing them to the sun during the day and to frost at night time for a period of about one week. This is how you get a black chuño.
The white chuño is obtained by soaking the black chuño in, for example, river water for about two weeks.
The papa seca dulce
A papa seca dulce is obtained by cooking sweet potatoes which are cut into small pieces and then dried in the sun.
The Mistura Food Exhibition
Every year the Mistura Food Exhibition celebrating Peruvian gastronomy is held in Lima in Peru.
More than 300,000 visitors come to the fair where Andean farmers exhibit their local produce side by side with industrial groups and the chefs of famous restaurants.
The different varieties of potato (4,000 in Peru) are on display there along with a wide range of other tubers.
We visited the stand of Mr. Edilberto Soto Tenorio, President of CORPAPA (Coordinadora Nacional de Productores de Papa del Peru).
The producers had brought for exhibition 20 different types of potato out of the 450 that grow in the region of Ayacucho.
The president told us “We also grow more and more types of tubers such as the OCA (40 varieties), the MASHUA (50 varieties) and the OLLUCO (20 varieties)”.
He also told us about another type of naturally lyophilized product, which is not the Chuño.
This other product is called GAYA and made with the tuber of the OCA ROSADA.
In addition there is also the CHULLUCCE, made from the OLLUCO, which is cooked, cut into pieces and dried.
On another stand we met Felimon Paukar Patamoros de Huánuco.
He told us that for making chuños a variety of potato known as SIRI is often used.
He personally uses the variety known as WALLER the TOKOSH for producing a different type of chuño.
This particular potato is left to ferment for one year in a large dip hollowed out in a small stream so that a trickle of water constantly runs over it.
The potato ferments and in doing so it produces penicillin.
After one year the fermented potato is prepared as it is, but it has a very strong smell.
For presentation at the Mistura Food Exhibition, the fermented potato had been dried and peeled to remove the black skin. Prepared like this it is known as TOKOSH.
The future of potato and sweet potato
The CIP genebank.
It is the largest in vitro genebank in the world.
Breeding new varieties of food crops is essential to maintain and increase world food supplies. Developing these varieties depends in part on the biodiversity conserved, documented, characterized and studied in genebanks. Genebanks conserve living samples of the world’s huge diversity of crop varieties and their wild relatives.
They ensure that the genetic resources that underpin our food supply are both secure in the long term and available for use by farmers, plant breeders and researchers.
The greatest threats to biodiversity are desertification, deforestation, disease, pests, erosion, urban sprawl, monoculture farming and climate change.
Conserving the biodiversity of potato and sweetpotato has been a major priority of the International Potato Center (CIP) since its founding in 1971.
The Center holds the largest collections of potato and sweetpotato in the world, held as global public goods under the auspices of an FAO International Treaty.
CIP’s genebank holds 7392 accessions of potato (2785 of them wild species and 4235 native Andean varieties), 8103 accessions of sweet potato (of which 1265 are wild) and 1618 accessions of Andean root and tuber crops. Endemic native cultivated potato varieties include 2700 from Peru and 900 from Bolivia and Ecuador and the rest from other Andean countries, and come in a huge varieties of shapes, sizes and colors, ranging from white to red to black.
About 80 percent of the native cultivars and 80 percent of the wild relatives targeted for protection have already been collected and are now safe.
The status of many others, however, is still in doubt.
The Model Genebank – a secure vault to house a priceless collection.
The CIP’s genebank is, believe it or not, earthquake resistant and features state-of-the-art conservation chambers and associated facilities, including in vitro germplasm laboratories, an herbarium, pathogen testing and elimination, cryopreservation and germplasm distribution facilities. The complex houses the largest in vitro genebank in the world and first to obtain an international Standards Organization ISO 17025 Accreditation. The genebank uses barcode technology resulting in a laboratory that can operate “without pens and pencils”.
Depending on the region it is either the bread (with an average consumption of 97 kg per inhabitant), polenta or potatoes which constitute the basis of the daily food.
Hereby some photographs of the potato harvest in Cartisoara near Brasov.
At the occasion of a short vacation we took these photos in Anatolia of the potato harvest.
Well lined up bags and good looking potatoes.