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Dec 28, 2011

CIP's Conservation Efforts to Restore & Maintain Potato Germplasm in Indigenous Communities

Parque de la Papa, Cuzco, Peru
Photo: Secretaria General, Comunidad Andina, Peru
On 28 December 2011 SciDev.Net reported on how an estimated 500 potato tubers were shipped to Parque de la Papa (Potato Park) as part of a conservation effort to restore and maintain native potato seedbanks.  Parque de la Papa is a conservation initiative of six Quechua-speaking communities of Cuzco in southeastern Peru.  The exchange was initiated as part of a "repatriation" exchange initiated by both the International Potato Center (CIP) and Parque de la Papa.  The goal was to strengthen and promote an exchange between scientific and indigenous knowledge groups.

The potato tubers were repatriated "in vitro" or in test tubes.  The fact that Parque de la Papa was able to receive these genetic specimens in this format demonstrates that the indigenous people have learned the skills to handle germplasm in this manner.

Maria Scurrah, breeder and project coordinator of the NGO Yanapai, working with the community Chopca confirmed that the initiative is beneficial.  However, she expressed doubts about long-term success of repatriating tubers in vitro throughout the Andes where people are most comfortable with their traditional agricultural methods.  

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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