Sowing self-reliance

Partnering with the humanitarian sector for nutrition and climate resilience

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is known for saving lives and changing lives through emergency food assistance and for working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. In the northern arid regions of Kenya and Uganda, these objectives converge as rural communities with few crop and livelihood options face climate threats and high malnutrition rates.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Potato Center (CIP) teamed up with WFP – the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize recipient – to facilitate the cultivation and consumption of orange-fleshed sweetpotato in those regions. This crop grows well on marginal land, provides plenty of calories per hectare, and is an excellent source of vitamin A.

Vitamin A deficiency increases young children’s risk of infection and blindness. Yet just one small orange-fleshed sweetpotato, or 125 grams, can provide the vitamin A needs of a preschooler. In the past, orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes were extremely rare in sub-Saharan Africa, where farmers favor the less-nutritious white and yellow varieties, even though nearly half of children under 5 years of age are vitamin A deficient. CIP has spent more than a decade helping national programs breed and release locally-adapted varieties of pro-vitamin-A sweetpotatoes and developing strategies to get them into fields and homes.

CIP scientists in Kenya and Uganda identified drought-tolerant sweetpotato varieties that are ready to harvest within four months and helped develop supply chains to distribute planting material, while working with government and NGO partners to raise awareness of their benefits. These varieties not only have the potential to prevent vitamin A deficiency, but they can also ensure food availability when drought destroys other crops.

Building food security

CIP and WFP are leveraging each other’s experience and achievements to bring positive change to households at risk of hunger and malnutrition. CIP benefits from WFP’s presence in vulnerable communities and fragile environments, while WFP makes use of CIP’s technical and research capacity to strengthen its food systems approach for enabling farmer self-reliance and resilience.

Sowing self-reliance

Partnering with the humanitarian sector for nutrition and climate resilience

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is known for saving lives and changing lives through emergency food assistance and for working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. In the northern arid regions of Kenya and Uganda, these objectives converge as rural communities with few crop and livelihood options face climate threats and high malnutrition rates.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Potato Center (CIP) teamed up with WFP – the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize recipient – to facilitate the cultivation and consumption of orange-fleshed sweetpotato in those regions. This crop grows well on marginal land, provides plenty of calories per hectare, and is an excellent source of vitamin A.

Vitamin A deficiency increases young children’s risk of infection and blindness. Yet just one small orange-fleshed sweetpotato, or 125 grams, can provide the vitamin A needs of a preschooler. In the past, orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes were extremely rare in sub-Saharan Africa, where farmers favor the less-nutritious white and yellow varieties, even though nearly half of children under 5 years of age are vitamin A deficient. CIP has spent more than a decade helping national programs breed and release locally-adapted varieties of pro-vitamin-A sweetpotatoes and developing strategies to get them into fields and homes.

CIP scientists in Kenya and Uganda identified drought-tolerant sweetpotato varieties that are ready to harvest within four months and helped develop supply chains to distribute planting material, while working with government and NGO partners to raise awareness of their benefits. These varieties not only have the potential to prevent vitamin A deficiency, but they can also ensure food availability when drought destroys other crops.

Building food security

CIP and WFP are leveraging each other’s experience and achievements to bring positive change to households at risk of hunger and malnutrition. CIP benefits from WFP’s presence in vulnerable communities and fragile environments, while WFP makes use of CIP’s technical and research capacity to strengthen its food systems approach for enabling farmer self-reliance and resilience.

As Lauren Landis, WFP Country Director and Representative in Kenya, observes: “With CIP’s understanding of science and technology and WFP’s relationships with communities and authorities, we have a remarkable opportunity to transform the nutritional quality, affordability and environmental sustainability of people’s diets.”

Together they are building on a decade of work through which CIP and partners reached nearly seven million households and catalyzed demand for orange-fleshed sweetpotato in Africa and Asia. In 2020, those partnerships reached over 300,000 people in six African countries and Bangladesh. Approximately 110,000 smallholder farmers in those countries sold an additional USD 25 million worth of this nutritious crop.

Reaping nutritional benefits

According to the WFP’s Josephine Mwema, orange-fleshed sweetpotato was unknown in northern Kenya before 2020, but has quickly become popular and is now part of county and national government programs to promote crop diversification and nutrition.

In northern Uganda, more than 100,000 people have learned about the crop’s nutritional benefits and how to include it in family diets. One of them is Agnes Nyana, a member of a women’s group in Omoro district that shares knowledge about childcare and nutrition. She uses CIP’s Healthy Baby Toolkit to facilitate feeding nutritious food to children under two with delicious porridge recipes that combine sweetpotato, milk, banana and peanut paste.

“Now I know how to prepare good food that is rich in protein, vitamin A and other nutrients,” she says.

According to Frederick Grant, CIP’s Uganda country manager, working with such groups and training village health providers constitute an important avenue for promoting improved nutrition with orange sweetpotato. CIP collaborates with the Ministry of Health and NGOs to work with vegetable vendors and 60 schools, which are becoming platforms for training and distributing planting material.

Kennedy Owuor, who heads WFP’s northern Uganda office, says all three approaches have potential to reduce the malnutrition caseload at the region’s clinics. “If we can take orange-fleshed sweetpotato to scale, it can play an important role in reducing undernutrition and help us move from treating malnourished children to preventing malnutrition more widely,” he affirms.

As CIP and WFP extend their collaboration to Ethiopia, Mozambique and other countries, their partnership is showing potential to foster greater food and nutrition security across the globe.

Funders: CGIAR Trust Fund donors; Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, UK.

Partners: Andre Foods International; County governments of Baringo, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Tana River and Wajir, Kenya; HarvestPlus; Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization; Lutheran World Federation; Mercy Corps; Ministry of Health, Kenya; Ministry of Health, Uganda; National Agricultural Research Organisation, Uganda; Sasakawa Africa Association; World Food Programme.

Associated CGIAR Research Programs or Platforms: Agriculture for Nutrition and Health; Roots, Tubers and Bananas.

ABOUT

CIP is a research-for-development organization 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 dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources.  

www.cgiar.org 

CIP ACHIEVEMENTS

CREDITS

Build, Innovate, Transform:
Collaborative solutions for global challenges

International Potato Center | Annual Report 2020
© 2021, International Potato Center
ISSN 0256-6311
DOI: 10.416/02566311/2020
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
Christopher Butler

Web and mobile design
Andrea Prado
Moises Rosario

Design and infographics
José Enrique Torres 

Photo and videos credits 

Sliders:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford
Credit CIP/S. Fajardo
Credit CIP/I. Corthier

Sub-menus:

Build:
Credit CIP/I. Corthier

Innovation:
Credit CIP/S. Fajardo

Transform:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford

Stories:

Marketable tubers for the tropics:
Credit CIP/N. Sharma

Powerful potatoes:
Credit CIP/S. Fajardo
Video: CIP/Isadora Visual

Breeding better:
Credit CIP/S. Quinn
Video: RTB

Agriculture intensified:
Credit CIP/D. Rani

Sowing self-reliance:
Credit CIP/V. Atakos
Video: World Food Programme  

Farmer empowerment:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford

CIP’s reach:
Credit CIP/S. Quinn
Credit CIP/S. Fajardo

CIP in CGIAR:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford

Board of Trustees:
Credit CIP/J.Torres

Toward One CGIAR:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford

July 2021

CREDITS

Build, Innovate, Transform:
Collaborative solutions for global challenges

International Potato Center | Annual Report 2020
© 2021, International Potato Center
ISSN 0256-6311
DOI: 10.416/02566311/2020
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
Christopher Butler

Web and mobile design
Andrea Prado
Moises Rosario

Design and infographics
José Enrique Torres 

Photo and videos credits 

Sliders:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford
Credit CIP/S. Fajardo
Credit CIP/I. Corthier

Sub-menus:

Build:
Credit CIP/I. Corthier

Innovation:
Credit CIP/S. Fajardo

Transform:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford

Stories:

Marketable tubers for the tropics:
Credit CIP/N. Sharma

Powerful potatoes:
Credit CIP/S. Fajardo
Video: CIP/Isadora Visual

Breeding better:
Credit CIP/S. Quinn
Video: RTB

Agriculture intensified:
Credit CIP/D. Rani

Sowing self-reliance:
Credit CIP/V. Atakos
Video: World Food Programme  

Farmer empowerment:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford

CIP’s reach:
Credit CIP/S. Quinn
Credit CIP/S. Fajardo

CIP in CGIAR:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford

Board of Trustees:
Credit CIP/J.Torres

Toward One CGIAR:
Credit CIP/H. Rutherford

July 2021

ABOUT  | CIP ACHIEVEMENTS | CREDITS

ABOUT  | CIP ACHIEVEMENTS | CREDITS

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