This is a story about a spiritual journey made by Quechua farmers from the village of Chahuaytire, located in the Sacred Valley, who travel to Norway where they make a visit to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, “a fail-safe seed storage facility built deep inside a mountain on a remote island, halfway between Norway and the North Pole.”
They bring their sacred seeds to this special location so that they can be saved for future generations, for the benefit of all humanity. It should come as no surprise that the diversity and number of potato varieties in the Andes is quickly shrinking while farmers abandon their traditional lifestyles, start growing new more profitable crops, and give in to the pressures of large agricultural companies that are taking control over the industry.
The film starts with a beautiful prayer sung in Quechua:
I have searched in the memories of my ancestors. / In the house where my family name was born / mother earth I offer you respect / Sacred mountains I ask for your blessing / to walk this journey bringing your endangered children / far away in the place where the ice reins to stay in a safe place / and now arriving here I feel broken / because here I leave my family.
About potatoes in Peru and genetic diversity
The Potato Park is a unique place in Peru because it is believed to be the very place where humans first domesticated the potato. Though at one point there used to be more than 4,000 varieties of potatoes within the Americas, there are now less than half of that amount. In addition to other factors mentioned above, climate change is affecting areas where potatoes grow, which puts a greater threat to their biodiversity.
If those visiting the Sacred Valley are interested in making a visit to the Potato Park, it is not so difficult to reach. This special area is located in the mountains above the Sacred Valley, about a half of an hour away from Pisac by car. To find out more about this unique area, check out this article.
Cover photo: Flickr
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