Sweet Potatoes grew in the Andean highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Chile as far back as 13,000 years ago. Around 7,000 years ago, people living in the Andes were growing potatoes, and praised the crop for its ability to grow in difficult climates. The potato was brought to Europe by the Spanish in the 1500s. While the crop was initially met with superstition, it ultimately became a staple in most Europeans’ diets.
Today, sweet potatoes are seen by major organizations as a potential power player in the fight against international food insecurity. Their toughness and ability to grow in a wide variety of conditions makes them excellent options for growing food in regions where resources are scarce. At the International Potato Center in Lima, researchers focus on this idea and study the ways potatoes might help to eradicate worldwide hunger. Peru is also home to a potato bank, which stores thousands of varieties of potato seeds in a secure vault.