Albina Nuñez: Upholding her ancestors traditions

Albina Nuñez Marca Valle

“My mom, my grandmother, my great-grandparents all kept native potatoes. I don’t want to lose them. I have seven children, and we all grow them together. We plant all the varieties mixed, all different colors, in chaqru (a traditional way of cultivating different native potatoes in random mixtures in a single plot, rather than solely concentrating on planting a single variety). We boil them morning and night. I like to taste the different flavors. Wherever I go, if there’s a potato variety I don’t have, I try and buy it and that’s how I increase the number of potato varieties I have. They are all different. Some are waxy.  Some are dry. Others burst open quickly. Each one has a different flavor. Sangre de Toro is a floury potato, good for making huancaína, and Huayro is good for making causa. There is one called Beterraga (beet), and it’s just as red as a beet, and you can even use it in a salad like a beet.  In my house, I have lots of sacks of potatoes, but I don’t have a place to sell them. People want to buy things cheap. They want to pay 50 or 80 céntimos ($0.20-0.25) a kilo because they don’t know the value. For the yellow potatoes, they pay more, and those sell quickly. My children go to school in Huancayo and their fare is 3 to 5 soles ($0.90-$1.60) each day.  A kilo of sugar now costs 3.20 soles ($0.98). We need better prices for our potatoes.”