M. Scurrah, W. Amoros, G. Burgos, R. Schafleitner, M. Bonierbale
Hundreds of native heirloom varieties of potatoes of unknown origin are still utilized by subsistence farmers in the highlands of Peru, maintaining high levels of genetic diversity; yet these pockets of diversity paradoxically coincide with the highest levels of poverty and malnutrition. At the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, 189 Member States adopted a declaration that synthesized the priorities of the international agenda and reflected the commitments that had been painstakingly negotiated. The Millennium Declaration and the eight goals it identified have become a road map for tackling poverty, instability, HIV/AIDS, gender inequality, and violence in virtually all parts of the world. The International Potato Center (CIP)’s vision is to contribute to the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular those that relate to reducing poverty, hunger, child and maternal mortality, and sustainable development in rural and urban systems. New research with this valuable genetic resource targeting micronutrient levels, production, stress tolerance, and value adding for new markets is invigorating farming communities in the Andean center of origin and diversity of potato. Fe content (on a dry weight basis) is comparable to levels found in some cereals (rice, maize and wheat), but with better bio-availability due to lower phytate and higher ascorbic acid contents. A food intake study was carried out in six locations in Huancavelica to gain understanding of the role of the potato in the Andean diet, with an emphasis on women and children as the most vulnerable to malnutrition. Resulting information is being used to identify varieties with higher levels of Fe and Zn to improve micronutrient intake and simultaneously to assess the potential for enhancing Fe and Zn concentration through breeding and selection. An impressive range of 17–33% dry matter was found in a large number of native varieties, significantly higher than a control group of improved varieties, which contained 22–27% (Amoros et al., 2006). The outstanding organoleptic properties of many of the diploid and tetraploid native potatoes, as well as the relatively high contents identified for Fe and Zn (Burgos et al., 2007) and the antioxidant properties of those with high contents of anthocyanins (Culley et al., 2003.) are aimed at strengthening traditional Andean farming systems and benefiting potato farmers and consumers across the globe.
Scurrah, M., Amoros, W., Burgos, G., Schafleitner, R. and Bonierbale, M. (2007). BACK TO THE FUTURE: MILLENNIUM TRAITS IN NATIVE VARIETIES. Acta Hortic. 745, 369-378
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2007.745.22
Solanum tuberosum, Andean culture, genetic diversity, drought tolerance, nutrition, breeding for increased micronutrients, improving livelihoods

Acta Horticulturae