Sweetpotato set to play an Olympic role in fight against malnutrition
Coinciding with the close of the London 2012 Games, Prime Minister Cameron and Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer will convene a high-level Global Hunger Event on August 12. The event will challenge global leaders to strengthen commitments by identifying pioneering ways to tackle malnutrition and bringing in new champions to support the global movement.
“Orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes are packed with Vitamin A and other vital nutrients,” says Maria Andrade, an International Potato Center (CIP) scientist based in Mozambique and participant at the Global Hunger Event roundtable discussion.
“A sweetpotato a day can supply malnourished children with the recommended amount of Vitamin A. This is especially important in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa where 43 million children are stunted and suffer from Vitamin A Deficiency, which is a significant contributor to early childhood mortality.”
CIP’s multi-stakeholder partnership program Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI) has set a goal of reaching 10 million households across 17 Sub-Saharan Africa countries over the next 10 years to achieve a widespread uptake of sweetpotato that will significantly reduce malnutrition among children under the age of five.
In addition to its high nutritional value, sweetpotato grows in marginal conditions, requiring little labor and chemical fertilizers making it a cheap, effective solution for developing countries needing to grow more food on less area. It is also particularly suitable for households threatened by migration, civil disorder, or diseases such as AIDS.
CIP’s extensive sweetpotato collection contains over 8,000 accessions from the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The collection represents more than 80 percent of the world’s sweetpotato cultivars. This genetic diversity has helped CIP scientists develop and distribute nutrient-rich varieties.
“We join Prime Minister Cameron’s and Vice President Temer’s call to end global hunger and childhood malnutrition,” says Pamela Anderson, CIP’s Director General. “Concerted action to promote agricultural research and innovative, pro-poor agricultural strategies is vital”.
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