The potato (Solanum tuberosum) originated some 8 000 years ago in the Andes of South America. It was appropriate, therefore, that the initial impetus for declaring 2008 as the International Year of the Potato came from the Government of Peru.

At the biennial Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in November 2005, the Permanent Representative of Peru proposed – and the Conference adopted – a resolution that sought to focus world attention on the importance of the potato in providing food security and alleviating poverty. The resolution was transmitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, with the aim of having the UN General Assembly declare the year 2008 as the International Year of the Potato.

The Sixtieth Session of the General Assembly accepted the resolution in December 2005, and invited FAO to facilitate the implementation of IYP 2008. The resolution noted that the potato is a staple food in the diet of the world’s population and affirmed the role that the potato could play in achieving internationally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals.

All over the world actions took place. An expo on the history of the potato travelled to cities in numerous countries. The global interest in the ‘humble potato’ as a sustainable tool against hunger and poverty increased significantly and resulted in action plans and development activities. Even the government of China announced in 2015 that they would invest into the potato crop to partially replace cereals and rice as the potato uses less water and land.

More information on this initiative on the website http://www.fao.org/potato-2008/en/index.html

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