[Resilient Andes in Bolivia] Progress in the revaluation of native potatoes in a context of climate change

Swiss Cooperation held an event on 4 August in the Hall of the Vice-Presidency of the Pluri-national State of Bolivia. It was an opportunity to learn about projects in the region for the reappraisal of biodiversity and the consumption of native potatoes in Bolivia for strengthening food security. The event was attended by authorities, farmers, entrepreneurs and cooperation agencies, who shared their knowledge and identified challenges.

©Cámara de Diputados Bolivia

Héctor Arce, chair of the Chamber of Deputies’ Commission on the Amazon Region, Land, Territory, Water, Natural Resources and Environment, stated that foods such as potatoes, maize and wheat have historically demonstrated their high capacity to tackle food insecurity. He explained that “there are more than 1,500 varieties of potato grown in Bolivia. It is impressive how these varieties have been used in rural areas. They provide food 365 days a year, which no other food products do” he concluded.

Mariana Daza, Manager of the HELVETAS Swiss Inter-cooperation Resilient Territories Sub-programme in Bolivia, highlighted the importance of the joint work between agencies and the fulfilment of the agreements established with HELVETAS. “All the activities are being carried out in the terms of the Inter-institutional Cooperation Agreement with the Chamber of Deputies’ Commission of the Amazon Region, Land, Territory, Water, Natural Resources and Environment and HELVETAS Swiss Inter-cooperation“. She explained that “the event is very important for presenting projects in the region for reappraising biodiversity and the consumption of native potatoes in Bolivia, and strengthening resilient crops adapted to climate change“. The event provided an opportunity to learn about projects and strategic alliances promoted in the region and their importance for drafting legislation in this area.

Paola Flores, National Coordinator of the International Potato Centre (CIP), indicated that there are several factors that affect the loss of biodiversity and have an impact on agriculture, such as “high temperatures that mainly affect potato growing“. She pointed out that Bolivia has high rates of malnutrition and obesity, and there are many ways in which potatoes can mitigate some of these health problems.

For Susana Mejillones, Coordinator of the Papas Nativas project of HELVETAS Bolivia, “Native potatoes are an important part of biodiversity, but they are also a food heritage“. She explained that there are companies in Bolivia that process potatoes, improving the income of rural families, and that it is important to draft legislation regarding this heritage, which would improve the living conditions of thousands of Bolivian families.

The Bolivian Coordinator of the Andes Climate Change Resilient Project, María Reneé Pinto, explained that “to strengthen food systems, the economy needs to be stimulated based on native potatoes, responsibly considering climate change and the need to generate resilient practices for adaptation and timely mitigation“. 

The regional project Andes Resilient to Climate Change is implemented by the HELVETAS – Avina Foundation consortium and supported by SDC. The project strengthens and connects up the capacities of the public and private stakeholders involved in services for improving the resilience and the climate change adaptive capacity of the most vulnerable rural Andean women and men in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. In Bolivia, Resilient Andes is working with HELVETAS Bolivia’s Papas Nativas project in its second year, to expand the use of the climate change resilient technologies that the project is testing to promote resilient production systems adapted to climate change, extending them to more families and communities in the Colomi and Morochata municipalities in the Cochabamba department.

Source: Andes Resilient to Climate Change

Useful links:
Factsheet Regional Project “Andes Resilient to Climate Change”
Brochure Regional Project “Andes Resilient to Climate Change (Bolivia)

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