Better nutrition through sweet potatoes

Uganda sweet potatoesKiosk in Uganda advertising health benefits of vitamin A sweet potato © HarvestPlus

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition has revealed that vitamin A-rich orange-fleshed sweet potato (OSP), developed using conventional breeding methods, provided significant amounts of vitamin A to malnourished women and children in Uganda. Globally, Vitamin A deficiency accounts for more than 600,000 deaths a year in children under five. In Uganda, 28% of children and 23% of women are estimated to be vitamin A deficient.

Between 2007–2009, OSP was disseminated to more than 10,000 households in Uganda. Over 60% of recipients substituted more than one-third of their traditional sweet potato varieties with OSP. The study found that vitamin A intake increased by two-thirds for older children and nearly doubled for younger children and women. For children 6-35 months, OSP contributed more than 50% of their total vitamin A intake. HarvestPlus is aiming to reach another 225,000 households in Uganda by 2016 and the International Potato Center (CIP) plans to reach more than 10 million households across 17 sub-Saharan countries by 2020.

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