International Year of the Potato

potatoesDid you know that 2008 is the International Year of the Potato? Yup, thank the United Nations and eat a spud today.


The International Year of the Potato (IYP) “will raise awareness of the importance of the potato – and of agriculture in general – in addressing issues of global concern, including hunger, poverty and threats to the environment. ”

This seems to be asking a lot of the humble potato, but promoting its production and consumption is a step toward fulfilling the UN’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 (Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger), while ensuring environmental stability (MDG7). For an explanation of the potato’s importance to these goals (nutritional benefits & sustainability as a crop), statistics, etc., see Buried treasure (UN Food and Agriculture Organization) and the IYP official web site:

The potato is already an integral part of the global food system. It is the world’s number one non-grain food commodity, with production reaching a record 320 million tonnes in 2007. Potato consumption is expanding strongly in developing countries, which now account for more than half of the global harvest and where the potato’s ease of cultivation and high energy content have made it a valuable cash crop for millions of farmers.

At the same time, the potato – unlike major cereals – is not a globally traded commodity. Only a fraction of total production enters foreign trade, and potato prices are determined usually by local production costs, not the vagaries of international markets. It is, therefore, a highly recommended food security crop that can help low-income farmers and vulnerable consumers ride out current turmoil in world food supply and demand.

The University Library has resources for more info, maybe for a research paper.

  • Search the Library Catalog for potato? and find titles such as Seeds for the future: the impact of genetically modified crops on the environment (3rd-floor Main Collection, SB123.57 .T494 2007) that discusses genetic engineering to improve the virus resistance of potatoes. Search for “food supply” to get books and government documents such as World hunger (Main Collection HC79.F3 W65 2007)
  • Search Library databases such as Academic Search Premier to find articles such as “Spud we like” in The Economist (March 1st, 2008 issue), which reports on the economic importance of the potato as a food crop (providing more calories, more quickly, while using less land and in a wider range of climates than any other plant), and “Global food security under climate change” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 12/11/2007, v.104 ,no.50).
  • You can also look for more on the Millennium Development Goals, finding such sources as the December 2007 issue of UN Chronicle (also available in the Library’s 1st-floor current periodicals collection) “The MDGs: Are we on track?”
  • Websites may be helpful also, such as UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s World Food Summit, 1996, which called for cutting the number of the world’s undernourished people in half by 2015. FAO also has web pages monitoring progress toward this hunger reduction goal as well as the MDGs, and a 2006 report, The state of food insecurity in the world.


About Barbara

I am a Reference & Instruction librarian, head of that department in Andersen Library, an associate professor, and a member of the General Education Review Committee and Faculty Senate. I've been working at UW-W since July 1, 1990.
This entry was posted in around the world,, tips for research and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to International Year of the Potato

  1. Martha says:

    Yukon count on me to support the potato. I’d ho-pe more people will do the same.

  2. Infovoyeur says:

    Tubers are terrific, spuds are suave, potatoes are pulchritudinous. So says Chester Kartoffelkopfe, the Head of the Potatoes here at Potato Central…

Comments are closed.