Peru To Aid Potato Farmers
President Alan Garcia says his government will offer emergency microcredit to poor farmers to alleviate rising costs and low potato prices.
Garcia also urged Peruvians to eat more potatoes to increase demand and raise prices of the tubers.
High fertilizer and fuel costs have affected the prices of wheat, corn and rice, but potatoes have remained inexpensive.
Thus the potato is being pushed as a solution to global hunger, Reuters reported earlier this year. A growing world population, rising prices for staple foods such as wheat and rice, rising costs for fertilizer and diesel, and biofuel production are all heightening concerns about the world’s food supply.
“The shocks to the food supply are very real and that means we could potentially be moving into a reality where there is not enough food to feed the world,” said Pamela Anderson, director of the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru.
The Peruvian government has encouraged its citizens to eat bread made from potato flour, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. “We have to change people’s eating habits,” said Ismael Benavides, Peru’s agriculture minister. “People got addicted to wheat when it was cheap.”
The World Bank predicts that the rise in global food prices will not be temporary. Potatoes now offer an inexpensive alternative to suddenly costly grains.
The United Nations has even declared 2008 the International Year of the Potato to raise awareness of the food, and CBS News reports that the potato’s reputation as an unhealthy food is undeserved.