Cusco’s Potato Park (otherwise known as Peru’s potato museum) sprawls over 90 square km of varying altitudes (3400-4900 masl), allowing a diverse set of native tubers to thrive.
“By sowing potatoes at different altitudes and in different combinations, these potatoes create new genetic expressions which will be very important to respond to the challenges of climate change,” Alejandro Argumedo, founder of Asociación Andes, told The Guardian. The NGO supports the park.
Of the more than 4,000 potato varieties found in Peru, the Potato Park preserves 1,367 varieties. Using the time-tested techniques and knowledge of local farmers, agronomists are working towards identifying genetic strains in the potatoes that could help fight off the consequences of harsh changes in climate (droughts, frosts, floods).
Though extraterrestrial potato farming to fuel life on Mars has been going on for years, farmers are currently struggling to have crops adapt to the climate on Earth. As pests migrate upwards due to the increased temperature of the soil, the tubers are having to be planted further uphill in the potato park.
And though potatoes have adapted well in the past, the crop can’t keep up with the pace of climate change.
“That’s why we need the diversity, because the diversity is what we use when we breed new plants which can tolerate new climates,” Marie Haga, the executive director of the Crop Trusts, commented in the article.
Source: The Guardian
Cover photo: Photo: Global Crop Diversity Trust/Flickr
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