Potato cultivation was introduced to the island of Cuba at the end of the 18th century, during Spanish rule. These days, most of the potatoes sold on the national market, as well as the seeds used by local farms, are imported from abroad, generally the Netherlands and Canada. But in the Guamuhaya mountains, in the center of the island, the local farmers still grow a typical subvariety of tuber, known as Papa Romano.
The mountain climate, with its cool nighttime temperatures, is perfect for the cultivation of the Papa Romano, ensuring good development for the plant. The ideal altitude for cultivation is between 1,500 and 2,500 meters above sea level, but it can also be grown at lower altitudes.
Cultivation begins in December, when the temperatures are coolest and there is little rain. The tubers start to form around 30 to 45 days after sowing, and are harvested between March and April. The harvesting is mostly carried out manually, and the growers use sticks and other tools to dig them out from the earth. But the climate has been worrying the Guamuhaya farmers in recent years, as every season it changes further, threatening the success of the harvest.
The Papa Romano is mostly used for domestic or local consumption, and the growers always try to set some tubers aside to that they can reproduce the seeds and not lose this subvariety. It is greatly appreciated for its many culinary uses, and is served in meat stews, in salads, in soups or simply mashed, boiled, fried or stuffed.