The highlands of central and western Guatemala offer often ideal conditions for potato growing. At altitudes of between 1 500 and 2 800 m, where average temperatures range from 7°C to 25°C, farmers can harvest potatoes within 100 days of planting, and in frost-free irrigated areas, tubers are cultivated throughout the year.
As a result, Guatemala ranks as Central America's leading potato producer, with a record harvest in 2007 of 300 000 tonnes. Average yields are estimated at more than 27 tonnes per hectare, second only to Argentina in the Latin American region.
The potato has become a valuable cash crop for small farmers, who grow it mainly for sale to urban areas and for export to neighbouring countries. However, Guatemala's potential as a potato producer is constrained by a shortage of certified planting material and fragmentation of supply chains. Recently the government approved importation of seed potato from Argentina and is promoting the creation of small-scale potato producers' associations. (Source: International Year of the Potato)