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May 30, 2024

May 30 has been designated the International Day of Potato by the United Nations. The potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is a key crop contributing to food security to millions of people around the world; it is a millennia-old crop rooted in the cultural identity of ancestral indigenous peoples in the Andes of South America.

Peru is the center of origin of potato; its cultivation in the Andes of Peru goes back to at least the fifth millennium BC. It is the most important subsistence crop for most Peruvians, and it is cultivated mainly by small-scale farmers at altitudes between 2,500 - 4000 meters above sea level. In the Colca River Valley, one of the top touristic attractions in Peru, potato is one of the main stable crops. Farmers have an opportunity to increase the profitability and sustainability of this important crop by growing it using certified organic production practices, but awareness of factors such as how to meet nutrient needs or control pests in organic potato systems in this region is lacking.

The Arequipa Nexus Institute Phase III project, Building soils, communities, and profits with organic farming systems, is seeking to help potato growers in the Colca Valley overcome this challenge through 1) identifying specific barriers to the adoption of organic farming practices and conducting targeted training programs to help farmers overcome these barriers, 2) identifying soil and crop management practices that will optimize the productivity, quality and safety of their crops, and 3) developing more effective ways to produce high-quality compost.

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