The Darwin and the Indiana Jones of potato discovery, Professor Carlos Ochoa, of Peru, died this month (December, 2008).
He had helped classify more than 12,000 Peruvian potatoes, classifying them in 11 species that are recognized today in science.
Prof Ochoa, born in Cusco, Peru, was highly respected as one of the major cultivators of potato in South America.
After obtaining degrees from the Universidad San Simon in Bolivia and from the University of Minnesota in the United States, Ochoa achieved many discoveries in potato cultivation that included naming one third of nearly 200 wild potato species, producing new breeding methods between Peruvian with European and American potatoes, methods that are still being used in Peru today and as well as providing crucial information to potato development.
Ochoa carried out multiple expeditions in the hopes of developing a World Bank of Potato, which is currently being maintained by the International Potato Center. The bank constitutes as the most valuable genetic source and availability of potato for the international and national community.
Ochoa was able to increase production of potatoes in Peru by 30 to 40 tons per hectare, way more than the average 10 and 12 tons the country use to produce.
He received many international accolades, including Distinguished Economic Botanist, the William Brown award for Plant Genetic Resources, and, together with long time collaborator Alberto Salas, the