The widest variety of potatoes in the world grows on Peruvian soil. More than 3,000 types to be precise. Reason enough for Peru to appear on the list of leading producers of this wonderful – and ancient – tuber.
In fact, according to a report issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (Minagri), Peru positioned itself as the leading potato producer in Latin America in 2019, recording an annual production of 5.3 million metric tons. It also ranked 14th in tuber production worldwide.
“Peruvian potato production is the annual result of intense activity on 815 thousand acres of crops, spread across 19 regions, mainly high Andean areas," according to the report issued by Minagri.
It also noted that the regions with the highest potato production are: Puno, Áncash, Huánuco, La Libertad. Similarly, Cajamarca, Junín, Apurímac and Huancavelica are geographical areas where the largest native potato harvest is found.
The cultivation of tubers has significantly impacted the regional and local economy of the areas in which they are grown.
"The average potato yield exceeds 16.1 metric tons/hectare (2.5 acres), which has generated more than 110 thousand permanent jobs, mainly for families in areas located over 10,000 and 13,000 feet above sea level," reads the Minagri report.
Fact: 711,313 families work in potato production. Ninety percent of potato production takes place in mountainous regions.
Greater opportunities for producers
To date, through the Competitiveness Compensation Program (Agroideas), Minagri has contributed over 13 million soles to increase potato production and trade. For their part, agricultural organizations contributed a sum of 3.8 million soles. The results have been positive. If that’s not enough, let’s see what people eat in Peruvian homes: Lomo saltado, chicken broth, papa a la huancaína… all based on this wonderful product that once saved Europe from famine.
Also known as Solanum tuberosum, this product accounts for 8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and comes in several varieties. Among these are the yellow, white, canchán, red, black, perricholi, humanatanga, peruanita, tarmeña, tomasa and yungay potatoes.
In each one of its forms, a high dose of antioxidants can be found – especially anthocyanins and polyphenols – which repair the cell damage caused by free radicals. At the same time, it is an ideal ally for keeping the immune system in top condition.
Added to this is the presence of minerals such as iron, which maintains healthy levels of hemoglobin, and phosphorus, which is necessary for the growth (and strengthening) of bones and the bone system (its consumption helps prevent diseases such as osteoporosis).
The potato, in its natural state, is a sacred ingredient on Peru's gastronomic scene. But it can also be found in various forms: flour, flakes, liquors and dyes.
Did you know that...?
Potato consumption per person reaches 176 pounds per year. It is estimated that by 2021, the year of the Bicentennial of Peru’s Independence, this figure will increase to 203 pounds.
Potatoes are available to diners all year round.
National Potato Day is celebrated on May 30th.
Sources: Andina/ Gestión/ Minagri/ Lima Chamber of Commerce.