According to César Calderón Sotomayor, vice minister of agrarian policy of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (Minagri), Peru has only registered 60 potato varieties of the more than 3,000 varieties that exist in the country.
The Minagri’s challenge, he indicated, was to certify or register the other varieties. To do so, he said, the International Potato Center’s collaboration (CIP) is very important because it is the institution in charge of conducting certification. Such recognition protects the genetic resource in the national and international field against possible acts of biopiracy, he said.
"The Minagri wants to help accelerate this process, maybe by registering five varieties per year,” he said. “That's the idea. Currently, only 30 native potato varieties are known."
Calderón Sotomayor noted that another challenge facing the sector was to increase per capita potato consumption. "In 2005, the per capita consumption was of 65 kilos and in 2013 it was of 85 kilos," he said, noting that the increase in demand promoted the planting and production of said food.
The target for 2020, he said, was to increase per capita consumption to 100 kilos per year. To that end, he said, the MINAGRI is supporting a number of initiatives such as the creation of the National Potato Day, on May 30, or the “I eat potato” campaign; activities that have led to an increase in consumption.
"The Minagri should help the housewives that don’t know about native potato varieties learn about them. There are about 120 varieties of native potatoes and these festivals are looking to push their demand," he said.
Sotomayor also noted that the export of native Peruvian potatoes was still in its early stages. However, he noted that gourmet cooking had made viable the export of these tubers.
He also said he expected there would be an increase in the area of native potato crops, as well as of other crops of economic importance, as a result of the public investment in irrigation and expansion of the agricultural frontier. "There’s going to be a greater production and a greater presence in the export market," he said.
In this regard, he said, the international markets that could demand the native potato were the Peruvian restaurants operating in Europe, the U.S. and Latin America. "They are the natural markets that would have the first shipments of agricultural exports," he said.