Innovation for Development:
The Papa Andina Experience
T e c h n o l o g i c a l i n n o v a t i o n f o r s u s t a i n a b l e d e v e l o p m e n t
Seed systems for native potatoes in Bolivia,Ecuador and Peru: Results of a diagnostic study
Oscar A. Hidalgo, Kurt Manrique, Claudio Velasco, André Devaux and Jorge Andrade-Piedra
The Papa Andina Initiative of the International Potato Center (CIP) and its partners inBolivia, Ecuador and Peru promotes technological, commercial and institutionalinnovations along the potato chain to link small-scale farmers to new urban markets,taking advantage of potato biodiversity. Markets are responding and demandingsignificant volumes of high-quality native varieties. In order to meet this demand,farmers are challenged to improve the yield and quality of their crops, but one of themain limiting factors is availability of seed. A diagnostic of potato seed systems inthese three countries was carried out in early 2008. Main conclusions:
The availability of most native varieties in the three countries depends onsmall farmers, who preserve these varieties in situ.
In most cases, seed of native varieties is produced and distributed throughinformal or mixed systems, rather than through formal seed certificationsystems.
Seed of native varieties is mainly consumed on the farm where it is grown.
Factors causing seed degeneration are well understood for improved varieties,but not for native varieties.
Many projects and organizations are currently helping farmers improve theirseed quality.
Sustainability of a seed system depends on the quality requirements of theconsumption potato market, which becomes the driving force for thedevelopment of a market for quality seed.
Mixed and informal seed systems are more likely to be able to meet the seedrequirements of small Andean farmers than are official seed certificationsystems.
The potato is a staple food in the Andean countries. Hundreds of native varieties arevery well appreciated by farmers and their families because of their excellent culinary
1 Presented at the 15th Triennial Symposium of the International Society for Tropical RootCrops, 2009.