Potatoes can be used to beat hunger problem
According to the United Nations, the potato could be the answer to the food crisis being felt in different parts of the world, while the costs of many basic foodstuffs staples keep rising.
The potato is so rich in starch that it ranks as the world’s fourth most important food crop, after rice, wheat, and corn. Moreover, its importance is increasing further.
The United Nations has declared the year 2008 as the International Year of the Potato.
Still 15 years ago, it would have been inconceivable that China would be the world's biggest potato producer, while today almost a third of all potatoes are harvested in China and India. Moreover, potato fields are also being cleared in some African countries.
In 2007, a total of 72 million tons of potatoes were harvested in China, while the quantity of potatoes produced in the USA was just over 17 million tons. This means that one in four potatoes in the world is grown in China.
”The nutritional value of the potato is well-balanced in relation to human requirements, which is why its production particularly in developing countries is being promoted”, says Professor Jari Valkonen from the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Helsinki.
Thanks to its clean seed potato production, Finland has been invited to participate in a global project on introducing potato production to developing countries. The project is being conducted by the International Potato Center in Peru.
At present, the project is in its pilot phase, while its funding is being secured.
The International Potato Center asked Finland to participate in the project, as Finnish scientists in the High Grade Seed Potato production zone close to Oulu manage to produce seed potatoes that are free of dangerous diseases or nematodes, and hence they can be grown worldwide.
The Finnish seed potato companies working in the High Grade Seed Potato zone are linked below.
Another important aspect is the export of expert knowledge, says Valkonen.
”It is possible to grow potatoes that require cool circumstances even in southern high-temperature countries, as many such countries also have cool highlands. For example, there are just this kind of regions in Eastern Africa”, Valkonen concludes.
Finnish Seed Potato Centre, Tyrnävä
Kantaperuna - Northern Seed Potato
The International Year of the Potato
International Potato Center