Parque de la Papa
The Parque de la Papa is an organization of four communities located in the highlands of the Sacred Valley in Cusco, Perú, which work together for the preservation of agricultural biodiversity and the retention of Indigenous culture. Approximately 6,000 community members currently work together to preserve the area with hundreds of varieties of native potato (around 1,300) as well as the knowledge and ancient technology related to the cultivation and management of their agricultural landscape – a cornerstone of life in the area, though resources are limited, their lands are considered a center of potato origin and diversity, currently one of the four most important crops on earth, produced and preserved by the community throughout the centuries.
Economic opportunities that enable Indigenous people to remain living in the communities in which they have traditionally lived for generations are also desperately needed, that’s why Parque de la Papa, with the support of many international organizations, launched agro-tourism programs in 2006 and developed community micro-enterprises related to tourism services and activities with the purpose of creating economic opportunity. However, the community enterprises were in need of customers in order to reach its full potential and to achieve financial success. Currently, the community enterprises have significant barriers to access the international market, and when they do have access, they risk losing unique traditions and cultures. Women in particuar face barriers to accessing formal job opportunities, and youth have limited access to significant job and education fulfilment, and so often migrate to the big cities. The environment and wildlife need to be protected with sustainable plans managed and lead by locals, and tourism can be an excellent tool to protect natural cultural resources and improve empowerment for community members.
Planeterra and their local partner “Asociación ANDES” has supported Parque de la Papa (Potato Park) through training and customization of an experience for travellers. Travellers from Planeterra’s partners at G Adventures visit the park to learn about life in a rural agricultural Andean community and their seed conservation program, which is conserving Indigenous potatoes alongside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. Visitors also learn about the traditional planting or harvesting process, as well as indigenous weaving practices. Planeterra also provided funds to improve the facilities at the visitor center in the Pampallaqta community which represents a much-needed boost for the communities.