Sweet resilience

Sweetpotato helps communities bounce back from humanitarian crises

In March 2019, Cyclone Idai barreled across central Mozambique whipping winds at 170 km per hour and unleashing torrential rains that wiped out 700,000 hectares of crops, left more than 1,000 dead, and caused USD 2 billion of damage in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Within weeks of that disaster, the International Potato Center (CIP) partnered with the International Committee of the Red Cross to distribute 40 metric tons of sweetpotato planting material in the Mozambican provinces of Sofala and Manica, to help 7,500 smallholder farmers get back on their feet quickly and increase the availability of a nutritious, fast-growing food crop.

“There is no other crop as good as sweetpotato for post emergency recovery,” said Maria Andrade, CIP country manager in Mozambique.

Andrade explained that the planting material distributed was locally adapted orange-fleshed sweetpotato, just 120 grams of which provide the vitamin A needs of a five-year-old child. This is an invaluable trait in Mozambique, where 69% of children suffer vitamin A deficiency, which compromises their immune systems and causes some to go blind. Within two months of planting, families were able to begin eating vitamin-rich sweetpotato leaves, and within three months, they were harvesting nutritious, calorie-packed sweetpotatoes to eat and sell.

Farmers in the provinces pummeled by Cyclone Idai were on the road to recovery in record time because CIP had been working there since 2014 through a project called “Scaling up sweetpotato through agriculture and nutrition.”

Sweet resilience

Sweetpotato helps communities bounce back from humanitarian crises

In March 2019, Cyclone Idai barreled across central Mozambique whipping winds at 170 km per hour and unleashing torrential rains that wiped out 700,000 hectares of crops, left more than 1,000 dead, and caused USD 2 billion of damage in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Within weeks of that disaster, the International Potato Center (CIP) partnered with the International Committee of the Red Cross to distribute 40 metric tons of sweetpotato planting material in the Mozambican provinces of Sofala and Manica, to help 7,500 smallholder farmers get back on their feet quickly and increase the availability of a nutritious, fast-growing food crop.

“There is no other crop as good as sweetpotato for post emergency recovery,” said Maria Andrade, CIP country manager in Mozambique.

Andrade explained that the planting material distributed was locally adapted orange-fleshed sweetpotato, just 120 grams of which provide the vitamin A needs of a five-year-old child. This is an invaluable trait in Mozambique, where 69% of children suffer vitamin A deficiency, which compromises their immune systems and causes some to go blind. Within two months of planting, families were able to begin eating vitamin-rich sweetpotato leaves, and within three months, they were harvesting nutritious, calorie-packed sweetpotatoes to eat and sell.

Andrade’s team liaised with local authorities to ensure that an additional 20 metric tons of vines were planted and multiplied for distribution two months later, when floods receded and lowlands could be farmed again, which benefited another 4,000 resource-poor farming families. They also worked with specialized farmers known as vine multipliers—who grow sweetpotato vines to produce cuttings for sale—to restart the planting material supply chain.

Building on success

Farmers in the provinces pummeled by Cyclone Idai were on the road to recovery in record time because CIP had been working there since 2014 through a project called “Scaling up sweetpotato through agriculture and nutrition” (SUSTAIN). That initiative trained more than 90 vine multipliers and promoted the crop widely in Mozambique.

As part of SUSTAIN, nearly 300,000 Mozambican farming families with children under five received planting material for nutritious sweetpotato and training on how to grow the crop. At the same time, local government and NGO partners provided gender-responsive nutrition education—with an emphasis on orange-fleshed sweetpotato— to more than 200,000 caregivers between 2013 and 2019.

When farmers harvested the first post-cyclone sweetpotatoes, there was a strong market ready to buy them, thanks to years of promotional campaigns, agronomic training, cooking classes and the use of orange-fleshed sweetpotato puree by bakeries and other food processors.  The promotion and education resulted in a growing number of Mozambicans who cultivate and consume orange-fleshed sweetpotato—a crop that was rare in the country just 15 years earlier.

“I can guarantee that if you ask people here about orange-fleshed sweetpotato, 90% are familiar with it and they know it is good for children,” Andrade said.

That awareness has spread from farms and markets to government offices. Orange-flesh sweetpotato is now a priority crop promoted by federal ministries and provincial directorates of agriculture and health, and a range of civil society organizations. Such buy-in reflects growing recognition that a combination of planting material distribution, agricultural training, nutrition education, and market building can improve food security, vitamin A uptake and incomes.

International impacts

SUSTAIN achieved impressive results in Bangladesh, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Mozambique, reaching 2.3 million households with children under five with nutritious sweetpotato and 2 million people with nutrition education.

This investment has not only reduced the risk of hunger and vitamin A deficiency in vulnerable communities, it has also boosted their resilience.

In the years ahead, unpredictable climate-induced and other disasters are bound to threaten developing countries. In those situations, sweetpotato is uniquely positioned to provide quick, affordable food, nutrition, and long-term sustainability for resource-poor farming families around the world.

Funders: Department of International Development, United Kingdom

Partners: BRAC, Bangladesh; Concern Worldwide; Feed the Children; Governo de Moçambique; IMBARAGA Farmers Organisation; Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique; Michigan State University; PATH; Rwanda Agriculture Board; Secretariado Técnico de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional; Servicio Distrital de Actividades Económicas de Manica; Young Women’s Christian Association.

Associated CGIAR Research Program: Roots, Tubers and Bananas.

ABOUT

CIP is a CGIAR research center with a focus on potato, sweetpotato and Andean roots and tubers. It delivers innovative science-based solutions to enhance access to affordable nutritious food, foster inclusive sustainable business and employment growth, and drive the climate resilience of root and tuber agri-food systems. Headquartered in Lima, Peru, CIP has a research presence in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. www.cipotato.org

CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. Its science is carried out by 15 research centers in close collaboration with hundreds of partners across the globe. www.cgiar.org

CIP ACHIEVEMENTS

CREDITS

Discovery to Impact
Science-based solutions for global challenges

International Potato Center | Annual Report 2019
© 2020, International Potato Center
ISSN 0256-6311
DOI: 10.4160/02566311/2018
Hecho el Depósito Legal en la Biblioteca Nacional del Perú  N° 2005-9640 

Readers are encouraged to quote or reproduce material from this report. As copyright holder, CIP requests acknowledgement and a copy of the publication where the citation or material appears. Please send this to the Communications Department at the address below. 

International Potato Center
Av. La Molina 1895, La Molina, Peru
Apartado 1558, Lima 12, Peru
cip@cgiar.org
www.cipotato.org 

Direction
James Stapleton 

Managing editor
Christopher Butler 

Writing 
David Dudenhoefer (consultant) 

Production coordinator
Cecilia Lafosse 

Multimedia productions
Sara Fajardo
Hugh Rutherford
Isabel Corthier 

Web development
Moises Rosario
Andrea Prado 

Design and infographics
José Enrique Torres 

Photo captions and credits 

Sliders:
Sweetpotato vine distribution in Mozambique (CIP/I. Corthier).
Jan Kreuze in the lab. (Credit CIP/J. Torres).
Genetic markers facilitate breeding resilient potatoes with characteristics local people want. (Credit CIP/H. Rutherford).

Sub-menus:

Discovery:
Jan Kreuze in the lab. (Credit CIP/J. Torres)

Innovation:
Ms Tirhas Woldu and her daughters, of Tigray, Ethiopia, enjoy orange-fleshed sweetpotato. (Credit CIP/A.Frezer)

Impact:
A combination of sweetpotato planting material, agronomic training and nutrition education has helped millions of rural families improve their food and nutrition security. (Credit CIP/I. Corthier)

Next-generation breeding:
Research assistant Monica Santayana works on a project to crossbreed potato and its wild relatives (Crop Trust/M. Major).

Stopping sweetpotato pathogens:
Scientist Barack Wanjawa tests the LAMP assay for sweetpotato viruses in Kenya (KALRO/A. Mulwa).

Triple advantage:
By storing sweetpotatoes in dry sand and using them to produce planting material, farmers are able to plant and harvest the nutritious crop earlier (CIP/M. Cherinet).

Potatoes for prosperity:
Farmer Doris Kagendo Gikunda, of Meru county, with the high-yielding CIP potato variety Unica (CIP/V. Atakos).

Sweet resilience:
Thousands of farmers received sweetpotato planting material to replace crops destroyed by Cyclone Idai (CIP/I. Corthier).

Asian appetites:
Nutrition education in Bangladesh (CIP/S.Quinn)

CIP at a glance:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford

CIP in CGIAR:
Credit CIP/I. Corthier

Board of Trustees:
Credit CIP/J.Torres

July 2020 

CREDITS

Discovery to Impact
Science-based solutions for global challenges

International Potato Center | Annual Report 2019
© 2020, International Potato Center
ISSN 0256-6311
DOI: 10.4160/02566311/2018
Hecho el Depósito Legal en la Biblioteca Nacional del Perú  N° 2005-9640 

Readers are encouraged to quote or reproduce material from this report. As copyright holder, CIP requests acknowledgement and a copy of the publication where the citation or material appears. Please send this to the Communications Department at the address below. 

International Potato Center
Av. La Molina 1895, La Molina, Peru
Apartado 1558, Lima 12, Peru
cip@cgiar.org
www.cipotato.org 

Direction
James Stapleton 

Managing editor
Christopher Butler 

Writing 
David Dudenhoefer (consultant) 

Production coordinator
Cecilia Lafosse 

Multimedia productions
Sara Fajardo
Hugh Rutherford
Isabel Corthier 

Web development
Moises Rosario
Andrea Prado 

Design and infographics
José Enrique Torres 

Photo captions and credits 

Sliders:
Sweetpotato vine distribution in Mozambique (CIP/I. Corthier).
Jan Kreuze in the lab. (Credit CIP/J. Torres).
Genetic markers facilitate breeding resilient potatoes with characteristics local people want. (Credit CIP/H. Rutherford).

Sub-menus:

Discovery:
Jan Kreuze in the lab. (Credit CIP/J. Torres).

Innovation:
Ms Tirhas Woldu and her daughters, of Tigray, Ethiopia, enjoy orange-fleshed sweetpotato. (Credit CIP/A.Frezer).

Impact:
A combination of sweetpotato planting material, agronomic training and nutrition education has helped millions of rural families improve their food and nutrition security. (Credit CIP/I. Corthier).

Next-generation breeding:
Research assistant Monica Santayana works on a project to crossbreed potato and its wild relatives (Crop Trust/M. Major).

Stopping sweetpotato pathogens:
Scientist Barack Wanjawa tests the LAMP assay for sweetpotato viruses in Kenya (KALRO/A. Mulwa).

Triple advantage:
By storing sweetpotatoes in dry sand and using them to produce planting material, farmers are able to plant and harvest the nutritious crop earlier (CIP/M. Cherinet).

Potatoes for prosperity:
Farmer Doris Kagendo Gikunda, of Meru county, with the high-yielding CIP potato variety Unica (CIP/V. Atakos).

Sweet resilience:
Thousands of farmers received sweetpotato planting material to replace crops destroyed by Cyclone Idai (CIP/I. Corthier).

Asian appetites:
Nutrition education in Bangladesh (CIP/S.Quinn).

CIP at a glance:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford

CIP in CGIAR:
Credit CIP/I. Corthier

Communication data 2019:
Credit CIP/S. Quinn

Board of Trustees:
Credit CIP/J.Torres

July 2020 

ABOUT  | CIP ACHIEVEMENTS | CREDITS

ABOUT  | CIP ACHIEVEMENTS | CREDITS

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