Andean Roots and Tubers

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).

Current and traditional uses of ARTCs
Crop Family Scientific name Habitat altitude (masl) Edible part Current uses / Traditional proccessing Number of Accessions - Cultivated Number of Accessions - Wild Relatives
Oca Oxalidaceae Oxalis tuberosa 3000-4000 Tuber Boiled, baked / Kaya 881 154
Ulluco Basellaceae Ullucus tuberosus 3000-4000 Tuber Soups, stews, salads / Lingle(chulqui) 548 25
Mashua Tropaeolaceae Tropaeolum tuberosum 3000-4000 Tuber Boiled, baked / Tayacha 216 4
Achira Cannacea Canna indica 1000-3300 Root Baked, boiled, industrial starch / Flour 51 16
Yacon Compositae Smallanthus sonchifolius 2000-2900 Rhizome Syrup, flour, chips / Sugar, juice 50 1
Arracacha Apiaceae Arracacia xanthorrhiza 1300-3300 Root Boiled, baked, soups, stews, fried, puddings, baby foods / Kawi 42 2
Maca Fabaceae Lepidium meyenii 3900-4500 Hypocotyl Salads / Liquor, juice 157 291
Ahipa Brassicaceae Pachyrhizus spp. 1500-3000 Root Baked, salad, juice / - 82 -
Mauka Nyctaginaceae Mirabilis expansa 2300-3200 Root Boiled, stews, soups, fried, puddings / - 4 2
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Ivan Manrique
Andean Roots and Tubers Crops Curator