International Potato Center (CIP) Delegates Attend COP21

COP 21 Paris, France


Contact: Sara Quinn

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International Potato Center (CIP) Delegates Attend COP21

December 3, 2015, Paris, France—The International Potato Center (known as CIP for its acronym in Spanish) mitigates the impact of climate change on the world’s poor by achieving food and nutrition security on a sustained basis in developing countries through scientific research and related activities on potato, sweetpotato, and other root and tuber crops and through improved management of natural resources. Dr. Barbara H. Wells, CIP director general will lead the CIP delegation to COP21 in Paris, France.


Mitigating and adapting to climate change with potato and sweetpotato – By 2030 an additional 100 million people might be forced into poverty due to climate change according to a study by the World Bank. Agriculture is facing increased pressure from pests and diseases, drought, and rising temperatures. Crop yields are expected to decline by 5% and reach as much as a 30% decline by 2080. Hundreds of millions of people in developing countries depend on potato, sweetpotatofor food security and income, as they can be grown in marginal conditions with few inputs. Sweetpotato are especially tolerant of drought, heat, and poor soil conditions, while the domestication of potato in the Andes, a region where climatic extremes are the norm, confers this crop the plasticity to prosper under different environmental conditions around the world. CIP new varieties feature precocity as an escape strategy, drought and heat tolerance with higher disease resistance and improved nutritional quality.


Roots and tubers and severe weather: the seeds of recovery – Severe weather is expected to increase as a result of rising temperatures. Drought and flooding can wipe out livelihoods, homes, and food supplies. CIP is committed to creating crop varieties resistant to severe weather that can help affected populations. In the Philippines, where CIP works with national institutions, sweetpotatoes have played a crucial role in disaster recovery. When Typhoon Yolanda struck the country in 2013, beneath the fallen coconut trees, and in open fields, sweetpotatoes survived and boosted the local food supply until relief arrived. In Mozambique, a country regularly struck by droughts, CIP developed drought-tolerant, pro-vitamin-A, orange-fleshed sweetpotato varieties that were distributed to over 134,000 households in a two-year effort to mitigate drought’s impact in five provinces. CIP and partners in America and Asia (China) have done work on alternative water management schemes, e.g. the Partial Root-Zone Drying irrigation method where, with half of the amount of water conventionally used, potato yields are not significantly affected— good news for drought prone areas.


Conservation of genetic resources aids development of climate-smart varieties- CIP scientists have screened thousands of those accessions of wild and cultivated species to identify resistance to pests and diseases, and tolerance to frost, heat, drought, and soil salinity. Breeders are using those traits to develop improved varieties with nutritional quality, such as the vitamin-A rich sweetpotatoes, and with better disease resistance and higher salt- and drought tolerance. Material from CIP’s diverse germplasm collection is used by breeding programs in over 100 countries around the world. Conserving the genetic resources of potato and sweetpotato has been a major priority of CIP. The Center’s genebank holds the largest collections of potato and sweetpotato germplasm in the world.

For more information about these CIP’s work please stop by the “Conservation of potato and sweetpotato genetics, breeding for climatic stress conditions, methodologies and tools to evaluate and mitigate the impact of climate change” booth or visit our COP21 page.


About CIP

The International Potato Center (CIP), headquartered in Lima, Peru, was founded in 1971 as a root and tuber research-for-development institution delivering sustainable solutions to the pressing world problems of hunger, poverty, malnutrition and the degradation of natural resources. CIP houses the global in-trust potato, sweetpotato and Andean root and tuber crops collections and contains the world’s largest collection of potato diversity. CIP has regional offices in Peru, Ecuador, Kenya, India and China and is active globally with projects in 30 developing countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America.


CIP is the lead Center in the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), a joint initiative of CGIAR and partners to address these challenges more globally and efficiently. It brings together the RTB crop-related work of Bioversity International, CIRAD, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Potato Center (CIP), and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). CIP is part of the CGIAR Consortium, a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future. CGIAR research is dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources. Donors include individual countries, major foundations, and international entities.