The fourth most important food crop consumed globally.
Potatoes originate in the Andes where around 180 wild potato species can still be found. It’s estimated that potatoes were domesticated about 7,000 years ago – slowly transforming the gnarly, bitter and somewhat toxic tuber into the smooth, fleshy tuber enjoyed today. The plants can be grown at any altitude and with little water, and a hectare of potato can yield two to four times the food quantity of a grain, making it an ideal mountain crop.
There are more than 4,000 varieties of native potatoes, coming in a variety of colors. Today, in developed countries, most potato production goes to ‘value added’ products, such as fries, chips, potato-based snacks, ready meals and potato starch as an ingredient.
China is currently the world’s top potato producer, followed by India, Russia, Ukraine and then the US. The global significance of the potato is such that 2008 was declared the international year of the potato.