As part of the International Potato Center’s efforts to improve food and nutrition security, it has applied for a patent in Peru to protect the intellectual property for the preparation of a nutritious flour made from two crops: orange-fleshed sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) and yam bean (Pachyruizus spp.). Those crops have high levels of iron, zinc and beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A), which are vital for child development and human health. This means the product has the potential to contribute to efforts to reduce anemia and other ailments resulting from malnutrition.

In October 27, 2017, CIP filed a patent application with the Peruvian National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Intellectual Property Protection (INDECOPI) for “Nutritional composition from Pachyrhizus spp and Ipomoea Batatas with high concentration of micronutrients,” a product developed by Wolfgang Gruneberg, Rossemary Carpio Ramos and Federico Diaz Trujillo under a CIP project to promote the farming and consumption of yam bean in Central and West Africa. The Peruvian law firm Estudio Colmenares provided pro bono services to CIP for the drafting and filing of the patent request, which was published in the INDECOPI Electronic Gazette on December 13, 2018, and can also be found on the World Intellectual Property Office’s (WIPO) global patent search system, PATENTSCOPE, and CIP will create an online portfolio for the product on the Global Innovation Exchange.

The patent requested covers the flour – which is 80 percent yam bean and 20 percent sweetpotato – and the process of preparing it. The composition does not require the addition of iron, vitamin A or zinc and is relatively inexpensive to produce. Research has shown that yam bean has high iron bioavailability, which means it can help to reduce anemia, a condition that affects 43.6% of children under four years of age in Peru. The flour can be used to make popular Peruvian breakfast foods such as porridge, bread or tamales, and since 200 grams contain at least 2.6 mg of iron, at least 0.9 mg of zinc and at least 0.9 mg of β-carotene (pro-vitamin A), it could make in important contribution to improving diets. CIP seeks to patent the product in order to promote its production and consumption in Peru and beyond, especially in regions with high levels of undernutrition.