Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

Page 102

mentary to the ongoing effort to breed new varieties. For a subsistence farmer, reduction of risk overrides all other factors. If a crop is dependable, he will probably prefer it to something that has a high yield only in “good” years.16

Other Developing Areas. In recent decades, the common potato has become a glowing success in the highlands of Central Africa and the Himalayan region. The Andean experience suggests that, with research, certain native varieties can compete successfully with the common potato. Thus, in time, these little-known potatoes could also be good contributors to the welfare of Africans and Asians.

There could well be localized environments where even now the lesser-known species may prove superior to common potatoes. The heat-tolerant Solanum hygrothermicum, for instance, is native to a climate that is almost inimical to most varieties of the common potato. Also, some of the extremely cold-tolerant species may find valuable niches high on African or Asian mountainsides where few other crops can survive. Expanded research to evaluate such possibilities could open new vistas.

As noted, some of the species are valuable sources of germplasm for enhancing the common potato's culinary quality, productivity, and resistance to pests, disease, and harsh environments.

Industrialized Regions. In the United States, specialty vegetables are becoming a driving force in the multibillion dollar produce industry, and commercial interest in unusual potatoes is rising. Golden and purple potatoes are already selling at premium prices, and demand for more striking variants is probably endless. All the lesser-known potatoes should be intensively investigated and the adaptable cultivars promoted. A few cultivars of pitiquiña and phureja potatoes are currently being grown in Western Europe and North America. In North America, andigena potatoes would appear to be ideally suited to the specialty market.17

In the Andes, most of these species are cultivated at fairly high altitudes, so the cool autumn weather of high latitudes (in Europe, North America, or Australasia, for instance) may pose little problem. However, the long daylength of summer poses a giant problem. The Andean potatoes come largely from equatorial latitudes and tuberize

16 It has been said that a new high-yielding, frost-resistant potato cultivar could do more for the political and economic stability of Bolivia than any other single factor.
17 One interesting marketing strategy would be to maintain the diversity inherent in these species and raise them as multicolored and multishaped populations. Baskets of rainbow-colored potatoes would be a trendy produce-marketer's delight.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement