Sunday, 20 July 2008


The other day on Landline I watched a great piece about potato growing in the Andes, in Peru. Here are some people taking full advantage of creative thinking so secure their food supplies into the future. It is a beautiful exposé of a life we rarely see. But also it features work done by the International Potato Centre, in Lima where they are preserving the biodiversity of thousands of potatoes with the idea of using potatoes as the food security crop of the future, for the world's poor, taking the place of wheat and rice and corn.

Please watch the clip by clicking on the video link on this Landline site, and fast forwarding a few seconds to the beginning of the segment on the Andes.

The gist of the whole how many times have I used that phrase on this blog??...I do like to read stuff and then talk about the gist.....anyway, the gist of it is that while wheat, corn and rice are traded globally potatoes are not. They are generally grown fairly locally and are not a global commodity.Therefore the prices are not affected by global pressures such as rising transport costs, international shortages or massive crop failures due to disasters etc. Moreover, there are still thousands of varieties being grown worldwide and they are a very diverse plant, with just about everywhere being able to grow potatoes of one sort of another.

This Landline segment is an acknowledgement that globalisation is not in the best interests of the poor (or anyone else), as I see it. People need to grow food and be able to supplement this with other locally grown food. Sure, if humanitarian aid is required, they need to receive it but there are so many other, smaller, more beneficial options and the global market just is not the solution. Potatoes provide an opportunity for sidestepping grains as the staple they have become in recent times (another topic for another day soon...) in favour of a nutritious vegetable grown by the people who need it most.
There is another interesting piece here, from the Cusco potato conference which I found on the excellent Bioversity International site.

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