Fried, baked, or mashed, potatoes are prevalent in most Westerner's diets. But they're more than just a side dish to Peru's indigenous communities; the starchy tubers are an essential part of society. But with climate change threatening the valued crop, local potato farmers are scrambling to save the imperiled plants.
Potato Park in Cusco, Peru
Asociación ANDES
"The encroachment of dry lands is a big concern," says Alejandro Argumedo, a plant scientist at the linkurl:Potato Park; in Cusco, which is home to 1,500 of the region's potato varieties and more than 6,000 local farmers. As temperatures climb, farmers are forced to plant their crops higher and higher in the mountains. "As this trend continues, we won't have land to plant potatoes. The future doesn't look that bright if we don't do something."To circumvent a potentially catastrophic potato crash, Peruvian farmers are sending seeds from heirloom varieties of the root vegetables...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?