Petry N, Wirth JP, Siddle, B, Gaynor, M.

December 2015 – Sight and Life

Biofortification of sweet potatoes is a promising and sustainable agricultural approach to reduce vitamin A deficiency (VAD), particularly in remote areas where individuals have limited access to commercial markets and mainly rely on household-produced crops. Due to its large genetic variability, its favorable growing characteristics, and the high consumption in remote areas, the orange flesh sweet potato (OFSP) is one of the major targeted crops of biofortification initiatives. OFSP have high concentrations of provitamin A and are the most advanced biofortified crop in terms of research studies demonstrating bioavailability, efficacy, and effectiveness. Irish Aid has provided funding to five projects in Sub-Saharan Africa promoting and disseminating OFSP, a review was undertaken to better understand the common accomplishments and challenges of these five projects in order to identify common factors for success. The review found that the three following components of decentralized vine multiplication systems were indispensable for the successful OFSP projects: 1) growing large quantities of OFSP vines for dissemination by trained decentralized vine multipliers; 2) distributing vines to project farmers; and 3) teaching project farmers in OFSP growing techniques.

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