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By Megan Palin

Sydney is doing its part to promote the International Year of the Potato (IYP) as declared by the UN in 2008, with the Royal Botanic Gardens hosting a potato-themed activity for kids during the school holidays, called Spudz4kidz.
Communities around the world are helping to raise awareness of the importance of potatoes in addressing global concerns such as hunger, poverty and environmental issues.
The IYP website run by The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN says that the potato should be a major component in strategies aimed at providing nutritious food for the poor and hungry. ‘It is ideally suited to places where land is limited and labour is abundant ‘ conditions that characterise much of the developing world,’ according to the website.
Botanic Gardens Trust Community Programs Director, Relle Mott, said that apart from all the fun, kids would learn about the value of the potato. ‘It’s a significant food source for the world,’ Mott said.
Throughout this month, staff and visitors to the Botanic Gardens will be planting potatoes using certified organic seed potatoes of heritage, rare, and threatened varieties, such as Purple Congo and Pink Fir Apple.
Over the next two decades, the world’s population is expected to grow on average by more than 100 million people per year ‘ with more than 95 percent of that increase will occur in the developing countries.
‘A key challenge facing the international community is to ensure food security for present and future generations, while protecting the natural resource base,’ according to the IYP website. ‘The potato will be an important part of efforts to meet those challenges.’