Resistant varieties make the difference between having enough to eat – or not

“Three years after their formal release, the yield of these two potatoes was about 8-times higher than any of the 150 native potato varieties grown by these communities during this particularly wet season,” explains Stef de Haan, a potato breeder at the Center (known by its Spanish acronym, CIP), adding “it made the difference between having enough to eat or not.”

Pallay Poncho and Puka Lliclla give yields

of around 15-16 tons per hectare, compared to 5 tons per hectare with the traditional native potatoes. In 2010, the late blight resistant variety yields held up, while those of the local varieties was only around 2 tons per hectare, due to high damage from the fungus-like late blight disease.

Back in 2003, CIP joined forces with the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture and Peru’s National Institute of Agrarian Innovation (INIA) to conduct participatory varietal selection after late blight wiped out the native potato harvest of a large farming community in Paucartambo. It was the first time that late blight had occurred at this high altitude.

“The rise in temperature due to climate change makes formerly untouched areas fall victim to the potatoes most feared disease,” says CIP agronomist, Manuel Gastelo, “And each year, late blight has become even worse.”

Twenty Andigena clones with late blight resistance were evaluated and selected by the 200 families in the affected area. After 5 years, and in close collaboration with the community, two clones with the best properties were locally selected and officially released by INIA as the new varieties, Pallay Poncho and Puka Lliclla. The small-scale Andean farmers, averse to risk, grow them along with numerous native varieties. The improved varieties do not replace local ones, but they are used as a sort of insurance in case traditional varieties get damaged by disease.

“Three years after their formal release, the yield of these two potatoes was about 8-times higher than any of the 150 native potato varieties grown by these communities during this particularly wet season,” explains Stef de Haan, a potato breeder at the Center (known by its Spanish acronym, CIP), adding “it made the difference between having enough to eat or not.”

Pallay Poncho and Puka Lliclla give yields of around 15-16 tons per hectare, compared to 5 tons per hectare with the traditional native potatoes. In 2010, the late blight resistant variety yields held up, while those of the local varieties was only around 2 tons per hectare, due to high damage from the fungus-like late blight disease.

Back in 2003, CIP joined forces with the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture and Peru’s National Institute of Agrarian Innovation (INIA) to conduct participatory varietal selection after late blight wiped out the native potato harvest of a large farming community in Paucartambo. It was the first time that late blight had occurred at this high altitude.

“The rise in temperature due to climate change makes formerly untouched areas fall victim to the potatoes most feared disease,” says CIP agronomist, Manuel Gastelo, “And each year, late blight has become even worse.”

Twenty Andigena clones with late blight resistance were evaluated and selected by the 200 families in the affected area. After 5 years, and in close collaboration with the community, two clones with the best properties were locally selected and officially released by INIA as the new varieties, Pallay Poncho and Puka Lliclla. The small-scale Andean farmers, averse to risk, grow them along with numerous native varieties. The improved varieties do not replace local ones, but they are used as a sort of insurance in case traditional varieties get damaged by disease.

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