Farmers' Rights
About FR
State of FR
Legislation database
How to realize FR
Best practices
FR internationally
The FR Project


The Peruvian Potato Park

Conservation activities, the sharing of technology and information and access to propagation material are all non-monetary types of benefit sharing. In the following example from Peru, these benefit sharing mechanisms are all present to some degree. The Peruvian Potato Park conserves a substantial amount of potato varieties, thereby also ensuring access to a wider range of propagating material, and the re-introduction of lost varieties through virus-free seed potatoes is a way of sharing the technology and information of modern scientific institutions with local communities.

Even though most of the potatoes produced in the world today belong to one single species with a few varieties, estimates suggest that there exist approximately 6,500 potato varieties worldwide. It is only in the Andes region, the place of origin for the potato, that a wide diversity of species and varieties is still cultivated and used. This enormous diversity represents a gene reservoir of inestimable value for global food security. Even in this centre of diversity, however, there has been a dramatic decline in the cultivation of traditional varieties in recent decades, and some are on the verge of disappearing.

It was in this context that six Quechua communities in Peru came together to create the Parque de la Papa, the Potato Park. This Park covers more than 12,000 ha, situated between 3,150 and 5,000 metres above sea level. It was the Quechua-Aymara Association for Nature and Sustainable Development (ANDES in Spanish) which brought together these six Quechua communities, some of which had been struggling for land tenure for years, in this conservation project. The objective is to preserve the landscape and the traditional way of life of its inhabitants. Around 1200 different potato varieties are identified by name and used in the region, and a typical family farm grows 20 to 80 potato varieties. (About 750 varieties of native potatoes are grown in the Park, most of them unique to this habitat.) In addition to preserving this rich biodiversity, the Park is also being used to re-introduce varieties that have already disappeared from the region. For this purpose the International Potato Center (CIP) made an agreement with the Park and has to date contributed 410 virus-free native potato varieties. These are already in full production and, according to CIP, yielding 10% to 30% more than varieties that have not been cleaned of viruses.

CIP's contribution is part of an agreement, signed in December 2004 with the authorities of the Potato Park and ANDES, addressing the repatriation and restoration of potato diversity and aiming to promote both the potato as a crop and the use and conservation of the Park's great variety of native potatoes. This collaboration also guarantees that the indigenous knowledge, ancestral technologies and intellectual property rights related to the Park's varieties remain under local control. The Potato Park is one of the few conservation initiatives in the world where it is the local people themselves who manage and protect local genetic resources and traditional knowledge.

The Peruvian Potato Park. Photo: Maria Scurrah de MayerMost potatoes in the Park are produced for the consumption of the Park's inhabitants, while a small part of the produce is exchanged for other products through a barter system not involving any money. To ensure the continued existence of the project, possibilities for an increase in income are being developed and efforts are being made to further the awareness among producers and consumers of the importance of potato diversity. The development of agro-tourism, a visitors' centre with a potato exhibit and restaurant, better storage options and the sale of colourful potato mixes at the local supermarket chain are meant to contribute to this.

The greatest success of this project is that it has been possible to repatriate such a large number of potato varieties that otherwise would have been gone from the fields. The fact that these varieties were disease-free contributed to an increase in the yields. Among the factors which brought about the success is the increased popularity of the older potato varieties, achieved due to marketing efforts and increased attention.

One lesson from this example is that gene banks can contribute to repatriating large amounts of plant varieties if farmers are willing to invest in them. Creative marketing efforts can also be useful, particularly if there is a potential for tourism. In addition, the Peruvian Potato Park has demonstrated how local communities can take the lead in conservation efforts and be in charge of the maintenance and utilization of their plant genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. Once again it has also been shown how scientists of international institutions like CIP can play a positive role in relation to Farmers Rights' by sharing their knowledge and technologies.

(This text is based on information from an article written by Dieter Nill (2007) and a Press Release published by CIP 28 April 2006. Additional information has been provided by Maria Scurrah and Willy Roca.)

Pages in this sub-section:
   Creating incentive structures from the ground in the Philippines
   Community seed fairs in Zimbabwe
   Community gene banking and on-farm conservation in India
   Dynamic Conservation and Participatory Plant Breeding in France
   Participatory plant breeding adding value in Nepal
   Capacity-building for seed potato selection in Kenya
   The Peruvian Potato Park
   Rewarding best practices in Norway
Top top
 In this section:
  What is a 'success story' of FR?
  Success stories from the realization of the right to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed
  Success stories on traditional knowledge related to agro-biodiversity
  Success stories on benefit-sharing measures
  Success stories on participation in decision making
  Common features

Photo: Pratap Shrestha, Nepal