December 24, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
The UK’s leading potato producer, Branston Ltd, has marked the start of the International Year of the Potato by donating £9,000 to establish a Potato Park, in the south of the country, near Cuzco, to help the repatriation of potatoes native to Peru.

The International Year of the Potato was officially launched at the United Nations headquarters in New York last month. Its aim is to raise awareness of the important role potatoes play around the world in overcoming hunger and poverty.

Potatoes originated in Peru, with the Spanish bringing them to Europe in the 1500s. Since then the Peruvian potato industry has suffered decline due to disease, changes in government policy, a move away from traditional farming techniques and the effects of large scale conflict.

Thanks to Branston’s donation and the efforts of the International Potato Centre in Lima, specialised facilities for development and propagation will be constructed early next year.

These facilities will provide Peruvian potato experts with the equipment needed to cultivate 300 varieties of potatoes, all of which are facing extinction. Once re-established, the seed of these rare potatoes will be distributed among the Potato Park farmers who can once again start growing some of the world’s oldest types of potatoes.

Branston’s Dr David Nelson is behind the company’s donation. “Our company wouldn’t exist without the potato and the potato wouldn’t exist without the people of Peru,” he says. “This project gives something back to the communities who gave to the world one of its most versatile and nutritious foods and which remains, even today, such an important centre of genetic diversity.

“Branston’s donation and the building of the Potato Park appears to be kick-starting a number of other initiatives within the Potato Park communities including a Potato Museum and specialist restaurants serving traditional potato based dishes. The region is already well visited by tourists on their way to nearby Machu Pichu, and the history of development of the humble potato could well form part of many tourist itineraries in the years ahead.”

For further information please contact Matt Hammerton at Lava on 01522 842 800/ or