Plant Science links to South America

Potato Tubers Bolivia (c) VALORAMPlant Science PhD student Siva Velivelli is just back from a trip to Bolivia as part of his research project. Here, he tells us more about the trip and the VALORAM project.

I recently travelled to Bolivia (South America) to attend a VALORAM 4th co-ordination meeting from February 20th to 25th, 2012. Twenty people attended from European and Latin American Countries.

The central Andean Highlands of Peru and Bolivia are the centre of origin of potatoes. Nearly 4000 different varieties were grown by farmers. As part of our co-ordination meeting, we visited different potato fields that were cultivated by farmers. For the field visit, we had to travel for about 2 hrs. The potato fields were situated at an altitude of 2500 meters above sea level. It was a very valuable experience for us to see how the potatoes were harvested. One of the farmers ploughed the soil with a pickaxe on the field of Andean mountains and sorted out different types of potatoes based on its size and quality.  Later, we also tasted different varieties of potatoes and they were very tasty.  Overall it was a nice and valuable experience for me as a PhD student to interact and learn things together.

Potato Tasting (c) VALORAMThis research project is part of VALORAM and it aims at exploring and valorizing the existing large biodiversity of soil micro-organisms of Andean countries to improve the sustainability, food security, environmental protection and productivity of Andean cropping systems, benefiting rural farming households. Valoram comprises of eight partners, five from Europe and three from Latin America. The results from this project will directly benefit the local partners and may contribute to improve organic production in the EU.  More information on

Siva Velivelli, currently in his third year of his PhD working on a project entitled VALORAM – “Valorizing Andean microbial diversity through sustainable intensification of potato-based farming systems” ( under the supervison of Dr Barbara Doyle Prestwich.

Some of the VALORAM group in Bolivia (c)VALORAM

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