Broadcaster: Al Jazeera
Since potatoes were first taken to Europe from Peru by the Spanish, they have become a staple food for large parts of the world. However agricultural practices in the recent past have tended to make crops rather inbred. This 8:37 clip from the Earthrise series shows the combination of modern science and old knowledge to reinvigorate the genetic diversity of potatoes.
Peru is home to the International Potato Centre (CIP). Scientists collaborate with indigenous farmers (the “Potato Guardians”) high in the Andes who provide tubers from wild variants. In return the centre provides them with new genetic varieties to field test; a process they term “repatriation”.
The centre stores dried tubers and potato berries collected by the farmers. In so doing they hope to be prepared for any future environmental difficulties, for example an anticipated shortage of water. Over 7000 samples with desirable traits are archived to preserve the diversity that may prove essential for future generations.
This clip would be of interest to students on botany or agricuture courses. There are sections with subtitles and no audio translation so this might limit potential uses.