In 1538, a Spanish visitor to the central mountain ranges in present-day Colombia noted that local people cultivated "a kind of earth truffle" - which were probably potatoes. In fact, Colombia lies along the northern edge of the Andean centre of potato origin and domestication.
While the "earth truffle" is still a subsistence crop for many small farmers in Colombia, it is also the focus of the largest commercial potato industry in the Andean region. In 2000, production reached more than 2.8 million tonnes, thanks largely to yields of around 17 tonnes per hectare, far above those achieved in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. Since then the harvested area has shrunk from 170 000 to 110 000 hectares, and production in 2007 stood at 1.9 million tonnes.
Potato is grown mainly at altitudes of 1 800 to 2,300 m in the Cordillera Central and Cordillera Oriental mountain ranges. Since the 1990s, there has been a rapid increase in potato processing, which accounts for 12 to 14 percent of the total harvest. (Source: International Year of the Potato)