Celebrating Appealing Potatoes
They can be found growing in most countries of the world providing nutrients and variety to diets.
High yields and a good environmental footprint mean that many countries see potatoes as a hugely important crop and are encouraging growers to increase their planting of it. Meanwhile, greater knowledge is leading to higher yields, more nutritional content and reduced environmental impact.
The Americas gave the world two of its major food crops – corn and potatoes. The unique mountain conditions in the Andes allowed a perennial nightshade to develop into Solanum tuberosum, more commonly known as the potato, 6,000 years ago. More than 4,000 native varieties of potatoes have been discovered in a wide range of colors from yellow, to red to purple and black ¹.
They are one of the most versatile crops to grow, thriving at sea level or at heights of up to 4,500 metres above sea level. They also yield much more than other crops, with average world yields at 21 tonnes/hectare, which compares to 6t/ha for corn, 4.7t/ha for rice and 3.5t/ha for wheat ². Some growers regularly get yields of more than 50t/ha.
The yield potential and sustainability profile of potatoes mean that China has pledged to double output of the crop over time – it is already the world’s largest grower producing more than 100 million tonnes a year – more than a quarter of the world’s production. India has also said it intends to increase the 50 million tonnes of potatoes it grows every year.
New research from McMaster University in Canada found that potatoes can be an excellent source of protein. Young women who consumed extra potato protein saw an increase in the rate at which their muscles created protein. This could pave the way for potato protein to be used in improving nutrition rather than animal-based proteins ³.
² UN FAO
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