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Manrique had been a research assistant at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru. In the Andes — "cradle of the potato" and home of 3,000-plus potato varieties — descendants of the early Incas are still growing potatoes at altitudes above 10,000 feet. Since domesticating the potato 7,000 years ago, they had accumulated a wealth of indigenous knowledge on production techniques, but their unfamiliarity with modern consumer trends and marketing channels were costing them dearly in missed opportunities — and in family income that could reduce their poverty.
Manrique earned his Ph.D. and returned to Lima in 1998 and is now CIP's technical coordinator of INCOPA/Papa Andina, a Swiss-funded development project dedicated to improving innovation and competitiveness in Peru's potato industry.
Among INCOPA's initiatives that link research to development is T'ikapapa — a creative, sustainable partnership between potato-chain stakeholders and small-scale farmers. Manrique calls it "an example of a new marketing concept that demonstrates it is possible for Andean farmers to capitalize on the added values of biodiversity and tap into exclusive markets." T'ikapapa-trademarked fresh native potatoes are now being sold through Wong, Peru's largest supermarket chain.
Manrique is meeting a crucial need for education in postharvest management by developing a training module — adapted from University of Idaho Extension recommendations — for his Andean audiences.
For Manrique, the cultural richness he experienced among his fellow University of Idaho international students and the lasting relationships he now enjoys around the world are what he values most about his graduate school experience. He and his wife, Ruth, hope their 9-year-old son can return to Idaho when he's of college age.
Read Marlene Fritz's full article about Manrique online. The story appeared in the Winter 2008 College of Agricultural and Life Sciences magazine "Programs & People." After the article went to press, the T'ikapapa initiative won the 2007 World Challenge award sponsored by BBC World and Newsweek, in association with Shell.