Peru’s Potato Guardians

Scientists and farmers work together to safeguard the future of the potato.

As one of the world’s favourite vegetables, the potato has a global history spanning centuries and continents. 

But modern agriculture and its reliance on monocultures is shrinking the genetic diversity of this important food staple, leaving it vulnerable to pests, disease and climate change.

Holding the world’s largest collection of potatoes in the world, the International Potato Centre in Lima, Peru is fighting back. As well as storing 7,000 potato samples in their gene bank, the organisation encourages locals to grow forgotten potato varieties in the Andes.

Russell Beard explores the genetic diversity of the potato and witnesses a local festival celebrating the humble tuber in the Sacred Valley of the Andes.


earthrise can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2230; Wednesday: 0930; Thursday: 0330; Friday: 1630; Saturday: 2230; Sunday: 0930; Monday: 0330; Tuesday: 1630. 

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