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Potatoes to be kept in 'doomsday' vault

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Lima (UPI) Feb 18, 2011
Farmers in Peru say they've sent 1,500 varieties of potatoes to a "doomsday" seed vault in the Arctic Circle to safeguard the future of the crop.

The samples will be kept in a vault inside a mountain designed to protect world food crop species against natural and human disasters, the BBC reported Friday.

Potatoes are considered the world's most important non-cereal crop, but scientists say some native species in Peru are at risk.

"Peruvian potato culture is under threat," said Alejandro Argumedo, a plant scientist involved in the project. "The work we begin today will guarantee the availability of our incredible potato diversity for future generations."

The samples are being sent to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault by the Cusco Potato Park, set up by six indigenous communities to protect biodiversity and protect food security in the region.

The park faces an uncertain future because climate change could undermine the farmers' weather-dependent agricultural systems, scientists say.

"Climate change will mean that traditional methods of maintaining this collection can no longer provide absolute guarantees," said Lino Mamani, head of the indigenous collective.

"Sending seeds to the [vault] will help us to provide a valuable backup collection -- the vault was built for the global community and we are going to use it," he said.

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