Climate threat to small potato farmers, but hope down the line

24 November 2018

Climate change is likely to affect the altitude at which Peruvian potatoes can be grown. There are predictions that temperatures in the Andes will increase by one to three degrees Celsius over the coming decades, though there is considerable uncertainty in the magnitude. This means, for example, that several species of insects will begin to multiply at altitudes where previously they did not exist, transmitting disease. Climate change generating more humidity could also encourage the appearance of late blight, the single most important disease in the potato.

But scientists at the International Potato Center have some good news too: they are working with wild potatoes to develop a solution. These potatoes are inedible in their wild state but are tolerant of heat and drought and resistant to disease. Cross breeding programmes are suggesting that a resilient and edible potato may be developed which will significantly help the livelihoods of small producers throughout the Peruvian highlands


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