Plant Production and Protection

FAO joins Coldiretti farmers’ organization to pay tribute to the potato

Italian farmers showcase varieties at Rome event to mark International Day of Potato


Potato farmers from Italy and Peru joined FAO and the Italian farmers’ organization, Coldiretti, at a special event in Rome to recognize the contributions of potato to their food systems and livelihoods. The event was held at an extraordinary opening of the Campagna Amica Farmers’ Market on the first-ever International Day of Potato and had in attendance consumers and farmers, who displayed their home-grown varieties of the crop.

In her welcome remarks, Sonia Mucci, Head of Administration of the Campagna Amica Foundation, drew the connection between biodiversity, local cultures, food security and nutrition. “Farmers’ markets showcase the planet’s great biodiversity and characterize our planet because this is where we find local foods, meaning foods that are linked to a specific area, its traditions and its culture,” she said.

“Thank you for celebrating World Potato Day with us. I am sure you will have the opportunity to appreciate the variety and versatility of this excellent product,” said Mucci, referring to the potato varieties in the market stalls surrounding her.

“We wouldn’t have the products we see today if it wasn’t for farmers,” said Beth Crawford, the Assistant Director-General Director at FAO’s Office of Strategy, Programme and Budget (OSP). “Today, in collaboration with the Coldiretti farmers’ organization, a FAO partner, we are celebrating this International Day of Potato and recognizing how valuable the potato is to producers and consumers here in Italy, Europe and to the world,” she said.

Crawford encouraged partners to continue working with FAO to improve the potato value chain and develop the potato’s genetic diversity, in a bid to combat the climate crisis, plant pests and diseases and diminishing natural resources.

The event provided an opportunity for consumers to find out more about locally produced foods and sample a popular potato-based Italian dish, gnocchi. Around 100 attendees had the opportunity to see a spectrum of potato varieties that are grown in Italy, including the Monalisa and the Maccarese, each suitable for particular growing conditions, culinary and dietary preferences.

Event moderator Makiko Taguchi, Agricultural Officer from FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division, said farmers were critical for preserving biodiversity, stressing its importance for planetary health.  She also spoke of the heritage of the potato in the Andes and described farmers of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru as the custodians of the crop.

Peruvian farmers, Martha Mamani Condori and Victor Anco, were special guests at the event.  Anco told guests that the communities in his region cultivate, and hence conserve, 1 050 varieties of potato. Mamani Condor, who comes from Paucartambo near Cusco, said her family alone cultivated 200 different varieties.

FAO and Coldiretti have been collaborating to promote sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation since 2018. Coldiretti supports Campagna Amica Farmers’ Market, which promotes sustainable, quality and locally produced foods.

FAO is committed to supporting its Members to build sustainable, resilient value chains of crops that are appropriate for their contexts and adapted to local needs.

©FAO/Riccardo De Luca

©FAO/Riccardo De Luca