Not for 8,000 years have we seen such a threat on the potato cultivation... and there's an ache growing in my Irish, hot chip loving heart!
Climate change is the biggest threat to the cultivation of potatoes in Peru, after years of resilience. Warming temperatures are forcing farmers to find higher altitudes to grow their crops, however they running out of land to do this.
This Andean staple food is now at grave risk... and the loss of potato cultivation has the potential to cause famine and also effect folklore customs in indigenous communities.
VICE news states that there is hope in the Incan heartland, five Quechua-speaking villages are working with modern science to deter the impacts of climate change.
There are 6,000 families have created a "Potato Park"... which is a 9,200-hectare (22,700 acre) living laboratory. Residents and scientists are working together and testing the tolerance of various potato varieties against severe drought and frost.
The "Potato Guardians" of the Incan heartland combine efforts with the land and research 700 varieties for signs of climate change adaptation.
Since 1997, the year of the project's birth, 12 drought resistant potato types have been identifies, with up to another 64 signs of adjusting to increasing seasonal temperature and precipitation changes.
And in the capital city Lima, the International Potato Center (IPC) has created a potato gene bank. They have about 70 percent of the world's 4,500 total varieties. They have cloned and cryogenically frozen them, and sends plants around the world to be planted at varying elevations and different climate conditions and monitored for results.
According to VICE,
"The mountains are pyramids. The higher you go, the slenderer the land becomes, as do your growing possibilities," the Peruvian, who's handled 60 percent of the collection, said. "In approximately 40 years there could be a catastrophe.
Temperatures range between 5 and 24 degrees Celsius in summer, and -20 and -5 in the winter, and little else grows there except for potatoes and grains, such as quinoa.
However, the consumption of potatoes is also starting to lessen, from 265 pounds in 1950 to 187 pounds in 2014. This is the result of a change in diets, as people opt for rice more. At the same time, plantings have fallen from 740,000 acres to 593,000 acres, the IPC said. Because of a decreasing demand, workers are leaving the fields for mining jobs.
Thus, as the climate changes and society alters, the potato vitality in Peru is threatened.
If the world's temperatures rise any more, the potato, the worlds third most consumed crop could be in a lot more trouble... all over the world.