Solanum Traditio , project.
With the collaboration of Lizet Díaz Machuca, Marco Chevarría, Ronald Romero, Tania Castro, Luis Justino Lizárraga, Daniel Huamán Masi.
  Cusco — Lima — Vienna, 2015 - 2016

Santisteban. Arte de performance en América Latina y Sudamérica. Arte de acción y performance en Latinoamérica, Sudamérica, Perú, Lima. Arte contemporáneo latinoamericano y peruano. Arte latinoamericano y peruano en espacio público.



Since the origin of agriculture, more than 10,000 years ago, the agrarian societies of the world created and developed the genetic resources of the main crops for agricultural production and world food security in the so-called “centers of origin” [1], among The ones that stand out: the Middle East in the case of barley and wheat; in South Asia rice, in Africa millet and sorghum; in Central America corn, as well as, in South America, potatoes, quinoa, etc., (Bazile, 2012) [2].

The Andes mountain range is home to a great diversity of food plants; This wealth has been increased by the great work of domestication carried out by the Andean peasants. Among the main tubers that were domesticated, the potato (Solanum tuberosum sp) stands out evidently. [3] From a large wild population, farmers in the Andean highlands were able to select and  improve the first specimens that gave rise, after millennia to the great diversity of potato varieties that are known. Today approximately more than 4000 varieties have been identified in the Andes.

According to the International Potato Center - CIP, potato cultivation in the Andean regions of Peru dates back to at least the seventh millennium BC; as well as that by virtue of the recent investigations carried out by David Spooner (2005), more evidence was provided on the northern region of Lake Titicaca as the most specific place of origin of the potato (CIP, 2015). [4]

The Potato (Solanum tuberosum sp) is a species divided into two sub-species: “Andigena” adapted to a 12-hour photoperiod of sunlight and “tuberosum” that comes from the introduction of “andigena” on the European continent; the same one that was progressively adapted to the daily cycles of the northern hemisphere with a longer duration of the days, (Ibid). The new potato varieties are grown mainly in Europe and Asia, which represent more than 80% of world production (Alary et al, 2009). [5] As early as 2009, Europeans were considered the world's leading potato consumers, with 85 kilograms per inhabitant per year (FAOSTAT). [6]

The countries of the European Union have more than 1600 varieties of potato registered in the European catalog and 16,481 certificates of plant variety - VOC deposited in the International Union for the protection of New Varieties of Plants - UPOV whose headquarters are in Geneva, (Chevarría, Bazile, 2014). [7] This without counting, the patents, VOCs or other industrial property rights deposited on the genetic resources of the potato in the countries of North America, Asia, etc.

Since the 16th century, outside its domestication center in the Andes, the potato has been part of the food security strategies of many countries, thanks to the planetary diffusion of plant material domesticated and selected by Andean peasants for millennia. Unfortunately despite this, to date the Andean peoples have not received any significant benefit or recognition for having favored the whole world with their potato varieties.

From 1992 onwards, international treaties (Convention on Biological Diversity and the International Treaty of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - ITPGRFA-FAO.), Recognize the sovereignty of States over their genetic resources and the contribution of local communities to its conservation, recognize the “Farmers' Rights” [8] for the great contribution that local, indigenous communities and farmers of all regions of the world have made and continue to make, particularly those of the centers of origin and diversity of cultivated plants, to the conservation and development of plant genetic resources that constitute the basis of food and agricultural production in the world. Likewise, they establish mandatory principles to promote a fair and equitable distribution of the benefits derived from the use of these genetic resources made available to all countries of the world.

In the present XXI century with the current development of biotechnology, multiple patents and plant variety certificates (VOC) are being deposited on the genetic improvement of the diversity of food plants; among them, for example, on the genes of the potato and its wild relatives. In these processes, a certificate of origin of the potato genetic resources used is not required, although it has been a claim for more than 20 years from the peasants of the Andean countries and from all the peasants of the world for all agricultural genetic resources . The certificate of origin of a genetic resource, to date, is the legal way to demand that the economic benefits derived from the use of these resources be distributed in a fair and equitable manner. In this way, the "Farmers' Rights" around the world are being recognized and implemented; It would be promoting the conservation of the diversity of food plants that have allowed and allow the world to feed; as well as, it would be possible for Andean peasants to access better possibilities to face the poverty and precariousness in which they paradoxically live, despite their generosity with the world!


Cusco, July 29, 2015


Marco A. Chevarría Lazo

UNOPS Consultant - UNEP




[1] Vavilov, 1926. The centers of origin of the cultured species are those regions where their domestication, selection and improvement process began and where wild relatives of these species are still found.


[2] Bazile D. (2012). "L´agriculture peut-elle sauver la biodiversity?" Alternatives internationales (55): 5053


[3] Among other domesticated food plants in the Andean region, tubers like the Ollucos, (Ullucus tuberosus), the Ocas, (Oxalis tuberosa), the Mashua, (Tropaeolum tuberosum), etc. also stand out. Legumes such as Tarwi, (Lupinus mutabilis), Pallares (phaseolus lunatus), etc. Andean grains such as Quinoa (Chenopodium quinua); Kiwicha (Amaranthus caudatus); Qañihua (Chenopodium pallidicaule); etc. Food roots such as Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius), Arracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhiza), Yuca (Manihot esculenta), etc., as well as, a great diversity of fruits such as Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), Aguaymanto (physalis peruvianum), Elder (Sambucus peruvianum), etc.


[4], 29 07 2015


[5] Alary P., DE Bélizal E. et Al. 2009. “Nourrir les hommes: Un dictionnaire” Neuilly. Atlande - Geographie Thématique. 765p.




[7] Chevarría, M., Bazile, D., et al. (2014) "The legal systems that regulate the exchange of genetic resources: Importance for access, circulation and innovation in the case of quinoa" in "The state of the art of Quinoa in the World". BAZILE. D., et al. Edition: FAO Organization  of the United Nations for Agriculture and Food, Montpellier. France.


[8] Article No. 9 of the ITPGRFA - FAO

Marco Chevarría

Emilio Santisteban , interdisciplinary performance artist. Peru.  Contact us .

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