The ratona potato (Solanum tuberosum, subespecie Chaucha) is a sub-variety of potato that typically grows in the Andean regions, mainly in the Nariño department of southeastern Colombia. This plant can grow to a height of about 50 cm, with delicate green stalks. The edible tubers are oval and have an intense lilac color on the outside, while the pulp is a clear yellow with violet veins. There are small eyes on the outside of the peel.
This potato is usually eaten, after having been cooked in salted water, in soups, minestrones, and as a side dish. In rural areas it is served with protein filled dishes or cooked corn on the cob. An extremely versatile food, the ratona potato is appreciated for its pleasant flavor which is almost sweet.
In the Pasto region, capital city of the Nariño department, the tuber is cultivated in rotation with peas, wheat, corn or animal feed. In the area around Pasto, the potato is cultivated mainly in the zones around Santa Bárbara, El Socorro and Catambuco. In the case of this particular sub-variety, it can also be found in areas around San Fernando, La Laguna, Cabrera and El Encano, though less frequently. This variety is also less cultivated generally than others. According to the Encuesta Nacional Agropecuaria (National Agricultural Census) in the Pasto region 2,200 acres of land are dedicated to cultivating this product, with a yield of 1,8 tons per acre, and of this only 0.5% is made up of ratona potatoes.
This product is found in limited quantities in the local markets, and is normally eaten in family meals. Despite the fact that it has been an important resource for local people for centuries, and in particular for the indigenous quillacingas community, today the ratona potato is at risk of disappearing. For commercial reasons other varieties of potatoes, like parda pastusa, capira, Ica Huila, papa amarilla and mambera are preferred today. Furthermore, the productivity and marketing of this potato have gradually lost their dynamic competitive nature, giving room to other, large-scale cultivations.Back to the archive >