FAO Releases End-of-Year Review on the International Year of the Potato

International Year of the Potato: New Light on a Hidden Treasure

15 December 2008: Marking the end of the 2008 International Year of the Potato (IYP), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in collaboration with the International Potato Center (CIP), released a book entitled: “International Year of the Potato: New Light on a Hidden Treasure.”

The book reviews IYP achievements, underscores its essential message

that the potato is a vital part of the global food system, describes

the history of the potato, and includes the most recent FAO statistics

on potato consumption and production. The book also summarizes IYP

conferences and workshops around the world, many of which stressed the

impacts of climate change on potato production and associated

challenges for breeding new potato varieties that are adapted to

climate change.

The book includes an interview with Marco Bindi, University of

Florence, Italy, and lead author of the Fourth Assessment Report of the

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, on the effects of climate

change on global potato production. Bindi states that, while increases

in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels can significantly increase yields,

these gains will be offset by the negative impacts of rising

temperatures, water scarcity due to changing precipitation patterns,

and higher pressures through pests such as late blight in certain

regions. Regarding adaptation options, Bindi noted: anticipating

planting dates; using improved varieties; increasing soil water supply

in dry regions; and shifting potato production to higher altitudes and

latitudes as temperatures rise. The book's conclusions stress, among

other issues, the need to conserve genetic diversity as basis for

breeding new varieties adapted to climate change. [The Book] [IYP Website] [CIP Website]