Potato guardians in the cold room, in one of the Pisac villages that shape the Potato Park, in Cusco, Peru.
Five Peruvian rural villages, in the Andean mountains, work together in The Potato Park to protect crops and seeds from the heat and new plagues associated to climate change. Young and adult technicians, mostly men, use ancestral and scientific knowledge in Cusco, in the southern part of the country, to face the problems caused by what they call Mother Earth's fever.
Last December I had the chance to interview some of the potato guardians, who managed to preserve more than 1,300 varieties of the tuber reproducing them in greenhouses, and preserving the seeds and tubers in a cold room, at 3,800 masl, built in a house made of sun-dried bricks and wood.
Since temperatures have been rising, the potato plant looks for its cold environment to grow, so it means that the farmers have to go higher and higher, but land property issues does not permit an continuous displacement. The villagers, mainly Quechua speakers, have received training in food security and climate change, and have shared its experience with farmers of Kenya, India and Bhutan, who confront similar challenges. They were some of the more than a hundred signatories of the Bhutan Declaration on Climate Change and Mountain Indigneous People.
The work of the Potato Park is framed in values that are not so common for urban population: Sumaq Kausay in Quechua language means 'Good living', respecting the resources (on a sustainable development basis) and thanking the entities (in Earth and beyond) who let us live and enjoy.
Covering this story let me understand that climate change is a matter of living of millions of people, exposed to disasters and climate uncertainty. You can read the complete feature article, in Spanish, in El País newspaper.