After rice, the potato is the main Peruvian crop. Only last year, this tuber represented around 10.4% of the Gross Value of Agricultural Production (VBP) with S/5,525 million, as reported by the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation (midagri). It is also the livelihood of 711,313 families distributed in 19 regions of the country. The agricultural areas with the highest production are Puno, Huánuco, Cusco, Cajamarca, Huancavelica and Junín.
According to official data, just last year, this crop generated around 27 million workdays. This after achieving more than 6 million 21,000 tons of production, with a harvested area of 340,866 hectares.
However, close to celebrating National Potato Day this May 30, the tuber situation does not look good. So far this agricultural season (2022/2023), the cultivation area has been reduced by 8.7%; that is, about 24,700 hectares less than what was planted in the same period of the previous campaign. Likewise, production decreased by more than 17%.
Nearly 24,700 hectares less were planted than the previous campaign, according to Midagri. Photo: diffusion.
This is as a result of the shortage of fertilizers and the prolonged drought that affected the main producing areas last year during the planting season. Low production has meant that, so far this year, the potato price has reached record levels, even exceeding S/8 per kg in the case of yellow potato in the markets.
Currently, prices remain stable because, despite the fall, it is still the big harvest season, says Freddy García, president of Conveagro Junín. “In the coming months, the potato will go up,” he warns.
In addition, it mentions that as a consequence of the climate change the plantations have been affected by the ‘rancha’ and other pests, which will decrease their yield. At the moment, the farm price in the case of white potatoes is around S/0.70 per kg, which barely covers the cost of production. Native potatoes are marketed between S/1.50 and S/2 per kg on the farm.
For his part, Gregorio Condori, president of Conveagro de ayacuchohighlights that the only producers that have a good result in this campaign are those that have an irrigation system.
“The production of rainfed farmers has practically failed because they were unable to sow due to lack of rain,” he laments.
Meanwhile, Miguel Quevedo, coordinator of the Midagri Potato Chain, mentions that the current contraction in potato planting is similar to that registered in 2021.
However, it is worth noting that after the arrival of the rains, between December and February, planting increased. “These late sowings could compensate for the production between the months of June and July,” he mentions.
From farm to industry
On the other hand, the National Potato Day It is also a good opportunity to highlight that this food, thanks to its versatility, has given rise to various enterprises and industries. One of them is promoted by the company De Cajón, which produces vodka using the distillate of Peruvian potatoes.
The initiative that emerged in 2021, in the midst of a pandemic, produces around 3,600 bottles of Russian-born liquor per month. Each 750 ml jar is made with an average of between 8.5 and 9 kilos of potatoes. “We are talking about 12 kg per liter,” underlines Marko Polo Sánchez, general manager of De Cajón.
To produce this volume they use around 24 tons monthly native potato and conchán. Its main suppliers are peasant communities of Topala and Tarma in Junín.
Another example is Pio’s Chicken, which is one of the two chicken chains that only work with Peruvian potatoes. They use the white and native varieties, says Wilmer Olaya, the company’s marketing manager. He adds that they use potatoes from Acobamba (Huanvacelica).
Finally, potatoes are also the mainstay of large companies such as PepsiCo Peru, which annually consumes 29,000 tons of this tuber to make its Lay’s Clásica, Lay’s Ondas Queso, Lay’s Ají Panca potatoes, etc. Its suppliers are from Arequipa, Lima, Junín and Ica. “With them we implement regenerative practices on their hectares in order to restore the land, obtain crops and key ingredients in a sustainable way,” the company highlights.
Road to International Potato Day
Midagri reported that the Agriculture Committee of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) announced its support for the Peruvian initiative to establish May 30 as International Potato Day.
After this acceptance, the proposal will go to the Council of the FAO and later to the United Nations General Assembly for final approval, hoping that the world will celebrate International Potato Day for the first time on May 30, 2024. It is estimated that in the period of the sessions of the FAO, in July of this year, the world declaration of this celebration will be made official.
Miguel Quevedo, coordinator of the Midagri Potato Chain
“We are helping farmers affected (by the droughts) with the Catastrophic Agrarian Insurance. We also give them financing through agroperu with an annual interest of 3.5%”.
Festivity. This year, the main celebration for National Potato Day will be held in the Plaza de Armas in the city of Huacho. The Midagri owner, Nelly Paredes, will attend.
Concentration. Conservationist potato producers from Áncash, Huánuco, Pasco, Junín, Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Lima will also participate. Likewise, there will be the organizations of producers of native potatoes of the Association of Guardians of the Potato.
Alia is a professional author and journalist, working at 247 news agency. She writes on various topics from economy news to general interest pieces, providing readers with relevant and informative content. With years of experience, she brings a unique perspective and in-depth analysis to her work.