The potato is currently a worldwide star. The United Nations declared 2008 as “The International Year of the Potato”, with the goal of calling global attention to the important role of this nutritious plant. Only in Antarctica is the potato neither cultivated nor consumed.
The potato was domesticated by pre-Colombian farmers eight thousand years ago from species that grew in the wild near Lake Titicaca. For the residents of the Andes, the potato represents an irreplaceable product in their daily diet and, during many centuries, they selected potatoes based on their flavour and resistance against the adverse climate of the Andes. However, it’s not just that: the vegetable is a part of their culture and way of life, being integral to certain legends and traditions.
The International Year of the Potato is raising awareness of the key role played by the "humble tuber" in agriculture, the economy and world food security. The potato should be a major component in strategies aimed at providing nutritious food for the poor and hungry. This “food of the future” is ideally suited to places where land is limited and labour is abundant, conditions that characterize much of the developing world. The potato produces more nutritious food more quickly, on less land, and in harsher climates than any other major crop. Over the next two decades, the world's population is expected to grow on average by more than 100 million people a year. Over 95 percent of that increase will occur in developing countries. The potato will surely be an important part of efforts to meet those challenges.