NewsInternationalLatin America loses up to 20 per cent of its potato to...

Latin America loses up to 20 per cent of its potato to the drought

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Several experts on potato crops stated in Panama that global warming destroyed between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of Latin America’s annual potato production and that it had become the main threat faced by this crop, even more than the late blight, an aggressive fungus that affects this crop.

“The high temperatures and the erratic rainfall have rendered the late blight into the background. Production is declining between 10 and 20 per cent in the region,” said the president of the Latin American Potato Association (Alap), the Mexican Rafael Mora.

Numbers are not higher, Mora added, because many countries have saved their production thanks to artificial irrigation, a facility that not all producers have.

Climate change also decreases the potato’s quality and causes browning, an abnormal darkening of the foil, said the producer during the opening of the XXVII Congress of the Alap, which is being held this week in Panama City and that brings together experts and farmers in the region.

“By 2050, many glaciers in the Andes will disappear, which will generate a big water problem and an increase in insects that didn’t climb to certain heights because of the cold weather,” warned the director of the International Potato Center (CIP), the Belgian Andre Devaux.

The CIP, which has its headquarters in Lima (Peru), is one of the largest potato research centers, a crop that started to be produced in the Andean highlands more than eight centuries ago and that reached Europe at the end the sixteenth century.

According to Devaux, apart from developing potato varieties that are increasingly more resistant to drought and sudden changes in temperature, it is necessary to improve the supply chains and the post-harvest process.

“Forty per cent of the production can be lost between the time the crop is harvested and the moment it reaches the consumer’s because of the poor organization of the supply chain,” said the scientist.

According to experts, increasing domestic consumption is also necessary. To do this, they must demolish the myth that potatoes make people fat and develop better seeds that provide more nutrients and can help alleviate the food security issue in Latin America.

The United States and Canada are the largest exporters of this crop in America. Currently, there are more than 4,000 varieties of potatoes in the world and, according to the Alap, potatoes are the third most consumed agricultural product in the world, behind corn and rice.

Mexico, the largest producer of potatoes in Latin America, has more than 70,000 hectares planted with this crop and produces more than a million and a half potatoes per year.

Source:  EFE

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