In many part of
sub-Saharan Africa, people eat large amounts of staple foods
like sweet potatoes.
However, the types
commonly eaten are yellow and white in color and a poor source
of vitamin A.
The orange varieties
are extremely rich in vitamin A and have been adapted to growing
conditions in Africa, and to local tastes.
In addition to being
a rich source of vitamin A, orange sweet potato is also high
yielding, virus resistant, and drought tolerant. In Africa, the
crop is also referred to as orange-fleshed sweet potato.
in Uganda, where orange sweet potato is now being grown on a
large scale as a result of US Government assistance, have
substituted more than one-third of their traditional white and
yellow sweet potatoes with orange varieties.
This has helped to
ensure that large numbers of children and women receive their
daily needs for vitamin A.
One study found that
in these communities orange sweet potato contributed to more
than half of the vitamin A intakes of young children aged 6
months to 3 years old.
This is notable
because the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, counted from the
start of a woman’s pregnancy until the child is two years old,
is the most critical period of growth and development.
All it takes is one
ice-cream scoop’s worth of orange sweet potato to provide a
young child with his or her daily vitamin A requirement. Farmers
are also able to sell their surplus crop to earn extra income.
Agnes Amony, a
Ugandan farmer who is part of this project, says: “I began
feeding my child on these nutritious foods following the
knowledge I attained in the recommended feeding practices for
children under five. My child began gaining weight steadily and
I am in no doubt that these foods have saved my child’s life. I
am forever grateful and will never stop feeding my child on
these food crops.”
In the mid-1990s,
USAID played a seminal role in convincing agricultural
scientists that improving yields of staple food crops was not
enough-they also had to make them more nutritious.
Vitamin A-rich OSP
emerged as one of the first nutritionally-enhanced-and most
successful-staple food crops to date.
Under First Lady
Michelle Obama, the White House kitchen garden has been expanded
and reinvigorated to include a wide range of herbs, fruits, and
It serves to educate
people, especially children, on the importance of good nutrition
and the role that vegetables and fruits can play in improving
The sweet potatoes
that were planted in the garden were provided by North Carolina
State University (NCSU) and include Covington, a variety
developed at NCSU, and Beauregard, a variety developed at
Louisiana State University. Beauregard has become one of the
most popular OSP varieties, and is being grown as far afield as
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of