country Sergio Andrés Martínez Pérez


Deep-rooted family values

Cream of the crop

The potato is the world’s fourth-most important crop and the first among non-grains. As a nutritional powerhouse, its set to contribute even more to food security as the global population continues to rise. The need for sustainable potato cultivation is therefore increasing.

In the highlands of the Nariño plateau in Colombia,  Sergio Andrés Martínez Pérez is playing a critical role in ensuring potatoes have a sustainable future as a source of nutrition, income and employment.

An expert in the field

Sergio’s farm La María is part of a farming story that goes back generations. His ancestors “were great potato growers of Antioquia” and instilled in him a love for the land that still runs in his veins. He is also the manager of the Coagrounión Cooperative, a group of approximately 32 potato growers cultivating 1,200 hectares in La Unión.

The value of family farms like La María is clear within national economies, but with 90 per cent of all farms in the world managed by similar families, making them potential agents of change in achieving food security for generations is a priority for Sergio. “We take advantage of the resources in the family. We want to teach future generations what our ancestors have taught us and continue the family tradition as potato growers,” he says. “This generational relay is important to guarantee food security.” 

Feeding the future

Sergio recognises that to achieve food security, the world needs to embed sustainability from farm to fork. “Sustainability is important because it guarantees food security. Potatoes in cold climates are a driving force for rural agriculture and generate the most jobs,” he says. “Globally, the population is growing and so is the need for food. Sustainable agriculture is linked and focused on supplying this need.”

For over 20 years he’s used UPL’s biological inputs and biostimulants such as Biozyme, Difecol and Curaxin to minimise the negative environmental impact of potato production. “UPL's portfolio has high-quality products that protect and cure our crops, leading to good crop phytosanitary, development and productivity,” he says. “They have also solved problems such as Phytophthora infestans, Alternaria and Epitrix.”

Today’s decisions, tomorrow’s opportunities

Boosting global food security in the midst of climate change also means diversifying crop production. Sergio’s future plans involve “planting and exporting new crops such as gulupa and granadilla, rotating and intercropping with potatoes, carrots, corn, pastures and increasing planting areas.”