Andean Roots and Tubers
In addition to the cultivated potato (Solanum spp.), and sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) conserved in the CIP-genebank, there are nine other genera (from nine different families) of lesser-known Andean Root and Tuber Crops (ARTCs) domesticated throughout the Andes. These ARTCs play an important role in nutrition, health, and food security for thousands of smallholder farmer families in the Andean highlands. Although none of the ARTCs are listed as an Annex 1 crop in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), they are included in the in trust agreement between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the CGIAR Centers. International distribution and use of ARTCs is however restricted due to a lack of protocols to certify the material is phytosanitary clean in order to meet import permit requirements. Therefore, a priority for the genebank for the ARTC collection is initiate research programs to develop phytosanitary tools for the diagnosis of viruses in ARTCs.
Most ARTCs are clonally propagated (achira, arracacha, oca, mashua, mauka, ulluco, and yacon) and are conserved in the CIP-genebank as in vitro plantlets while the other two ARTCs are maintained as seed (ahipa and maca). Accessions that are not maintained in vitro and those undergoing characterization are conserved or grown in greenhouses and farmer fields, specifically in a rural community (La Libertad) located above 3,800 masl in the department of Junín (11º49 ‘S and 75º18’ W). Maca and ahipa are the only crops conserved as seeds in cold chambers (-20ºC).