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13 June, 2024
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UN marks first International Day of Potato

Potato family is diverse, with over 5,000 varieties


Today is the first UN International Day of Potato, an effort to celebrate and promote the potato's critical role in improving global nutrition, fighting hunger and poverty, and tackling environmental issues. The UN hopes this day will highlight the cultural and social importance of the potato, driving global efforts to boost its production and impact.

The potato, which originated in the Andes region of South America over a millennium ago, made its way to Europe in the 16th century and has since spread worldwide. This versatile crop is now key in providing accessible, nutritious food and improving livelihoods, particularly in rural areas where resources are limited and costs are high. Its ability to grow in various conditions makes it a reliable choice for farmers.

Potatoes are also climate-friendly, producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to other crops. In the past decade, global potato production has risen by 10%, boosting jobs and income. However, much work remains to fully leverage the potato’s potential to end hunger and malnutrition.

The potato family is diverse, with over 5,000 varieties and 150 wild relatives, many unique to Latin America. These varieties offer traits like pest and disease resistance and adaptability to different environments, crucial for the crop's ongoing genetic improvement amid changing conditions and consumer needs.

Globally, the potato is one of the top five food crops, essential for food security. Small-scale and family farming, especially by rural and women farmers, significantly contributes to reducing hunger and poverty while promoting biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.

The UN General Assembly's decision last December to designate May 30 as the International Day of Potato aims to highlight the potato's nutritional, economic, environmental, and cultural value. This day underscores the potato's role in global nutrition, economic stability, environmental sustainability, and cultural heritage. As the world celebrates, the UN's goal to double the potato cultivation area by 2050 will need continued advocacy and action, with future World Potato Days marking progress in this effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

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