Catalina Gago: when we prepare our potatoes they open like a rose

Catalina Gago
Cuculish Community, Laraos,Perú

This year we only harvested a modest amount of potatoes because we were affected by the rain and drought.

Native potatoes are watered only with the rain. Everything is done by hand. We don’t use machines because the space on our (terraced) lands is limited. We sell native potatoes in small quantities because in order to sell in large quantities you need to have large parcels of land.

We probably have about 60 varieties of native potatoes growing in our community.

I love to farm when the potato flowers are blooming it is beautiful, the scent of the flowers and our black earth. We harvest barefoot so that the Terramycin in the soil enters through our feet and gives us good health. We harvest potatoes of all colors. We take our pots to the fields, and we boil them right there. Our potatoes open like roses. Sometimes we take guinea pigs to eat with our potatoes. Our native potatoes are flavorful, not like the improved varieties. Those varieties need a lot of water and a lot of medicine or else they rot.

Global warming has really affected us. The land dried up before the potato plants flowered because the rains arrived late the potato didn’t grow. When the rains arrived, they were harsh, and they never flowered. We now have lots of rains and lots of dry spells. When it should be raining it’s dry and when we are harvesting the rains come and rot our potatoes. Then there are the frosts that inhibit our potatoes to reach their full growth potential.