Quebrada de Humahuaca Andean Potatoes

Argentina

Jujuy

Vegetables and vegetable preserves

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Quebrada de Humahuaca Andean Potatoes

The Quebrada de Humahuaca is located at the centre of Jujuy province, near to the northern border of Argentina. The Rio Grande cuts across this dry, vividly colored landscape at altitudes varying from 1,800-3,800 meters above sea level. The great wealth of ecosystems in this region has favored the development of hundreds of edible plant species, which have been conserved and refined through the patient work of local farmers. In addition to the many varieties of potato and corn, varieties of kiwicha, quinoa, oca and papa lisa are commonly cultivated, native plants that date back to the time of the conquistadores. These plants were often banned after the Europeans arrived because they were considered sacred and therefore seen as dangerous sources of superstition and idolatry. Today, the Andean food culture is an incredible resource, both for its genetic heritage and for its economic potential.
The first signs of the selection and cultivation of potatoes in the Quebrada de Humahuaca date back 4,000 years, to a time when every generation maintained the tradition of cultivating a particular type of potato and often families gave their own name to the varieties they had developed and farmed. Some communities grew a huge range of varieties of potatoes, while others specialized in seed conservation. In this way, seed varieties multiplied from generation to generation and were refined through centuries of cultivation. Despite this, a large number of the potato varieties once cultivated here have now been lost: almost half of the 70 varieties registered here 40 years ago have disappeared today.
The varieties of Andean potatoes that have survived are distinguished by their flavor, color, and high protein content. Three quarter of these varieties are part of the Solanum tuberosum andigena species, though there is still a good deal of debate about whether this is, in fact, a subspecies. The presidium has identified five varieties that are farmed at an altitude ranging from 2,100 to 3,800 meters: the Papa Azul is the sweetest potato in the group, cylindrical in shape with dark blue skin with white flecks and yellow flesh; the Papa Señorita, which is irregular in shape, has white skin streaked with pink and yellowish flesh; the Cuarentilla, pink skin and white flesh; the Tuni Morada is round and flat, dark skinned with white flesh perfect for mashing and the Chacarera, with blunted ends, white skin and white flesh, is perfect for frying. This latter variety has the added curiosity that it develops violet streaks if cultivated above 3,000 meters.

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Officially founded in 1996, the Cauqueva Cooperative brings together 112 small producers of potatoes, oca, papa lisa and corn. The primary objectives of the cooperative are to improve the quality of life for inhabitants of Quebrada de Humahuaca through the commercialization of its traditional agricultural products, technical and agricultural assistance for farmers, and education for farmers. In 2002, Cauqueva was chosen as a winner of the Slow Food Award for Biodiversity and the Presidium was then founded at the beginning of 2004 to recognize the cooperative’s work at an national and international level. In the first year of activity, all Presidium producers received the seeds necessary to dedicate a quarter-hectare of their land to the chosen potato varieties and technical assistance in the preparation of their land for seed planting and harvesting. This assistance was provided by the cooperative’s agronomists as well as by collaborating institutions such as the Agricultural Science Faculty of Jujuy University, which regularly holds courses in farming, quality, variety selection, and commercialization. The Presidium promotes fresh, as well as blanched, Andean potatoes in restaurants and on the national market. In 2007 they started a project to develop a dehydrated potato purée made of Andean potato: a product which maintains all the natural flavor and qualities of the Andean potatoes intact.
The Andean products of the region are served by the producers’ families at a restaurant set up in the cooperative’s premises and the region’s traditional customs are presented at the “Museum of Quebrada Rural Life”. Cauqueva is also involved in creating a network of cooperatives in northwest Argentina which plan to jointly manage access to microcredit for producers and commercialize local products in large Argentine cities. Recently, the Buenos Aires prefecture founded “La Casa de Cauqueva”, a space for selling produce from the cooperative and organizing cultural events.

Production area
Maimará, Tumbaya, Tilcara and Humahuaca municipalities, Jujuy province
About 100 farmers members of the Cauqueva Cooperative (Cooperativa Agropecuaria y Artesanal Unión Quebrada y Valles)
Presidium coordinator
Lita Adelaida Cruz
tel. +54 9388155171135
litacruz@cauqueva.org.ar

Officially founded in 1996, the Cauqueva Cooperative brings together 112 small producers of potatoes, oca, papa lisa and corn. The primary objectives of the cooperative are to improve the quality of life for inhabitants of Quebrada de Humahuaca through the commercialization of its traditional agricultural products, technical and agricultural assistance for farmers, and education for farmers. In 2002, Cauqueva was chosen as a winner of the Slow Food Award for Biodiversity and the Presidium was then founded at the beginning of 2004 to recognize the cooperative’s work at an national and international level. In the first year of activity, all Presidium producers received the seeds necessary to dedicate a quarter-hectare of their land to the chosen potato varieties and technical assistance in the preparation of their land for seed planting and harvesting. This assistance was provided by the cooperative’s agronomists as well as by collaborating institutions such as the Agricultural Science Faculty of Jujuy University, which regularly holds courses in farming, quality, variety selection, and commercialization. The Presidium promotes fresh, as well as blanched, Andean potatoes in restaurants and on the national market. In 2007 they started a project to develop a dehydrated potato purée made of Andean potato: a product which maintains all the natural flavor and qualities of the Andean potatoes intact.
The Andean products of the region are served by the producers’ families at a restaurant set up in the cooperative’s premises and the region’s traditional customs are presented at the “Museum of Quebrada Rural Life”. Cauqueva is also involved in creating a network of cooperatives in northwest Argentina which plan to jointly manage access to microcredit for producers and commercialize local products in large Argentine cities. Recently, the Buenos Aires prefecture founded “La Casa de Cauqueva”, a space for selling produce from the cooperative and organizing cultural events.

Production area
Maimará, Tumbaya, Tilcara and Humahuaca municipalities, Jujuy province
About 100 farmers members of the Cauqueva Cooperative (Cooperativa Agropecuaria y Artesanal Unión Quebrada y Valles)
Presidium coordinator
Lita Adelaida Cruz
tel. +54 9388155171135
litacruz@cauqueva.org.ar

Territory

StateArgentina
RegionJujuy