The 2016 edition of the McKnight Foundation profiles the International Potato Center sweetpotato breeder Robert Mwanga.
Based in Uganda “Robert Mwanga has spent a career converting the orange-fleshed sweet potato into a tool that can prevent blindness and save the lives of millions of children across Africa, reads a bold statement in the annual report.
Robert, together with three of his colleagues (two from CIP), won the 2016 World Food Prize for work on bio fortified crops to reduce hidden hunger and specifically vitamin A deficiency (VAD), one of the most pernicious forms of undernourishment in the developing world. His role entailed the development of 14 new varieties of Orange-Fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP), work that begun in 2012, including a variety with combined high dry matter content, high resistance to viruses and blight, and high beta-carotene concentrations.
His varieties are preferred by children, farmers and consumers and have been used in Uganda to show the feasibility and effectiveness of bio-fortified vitamin A-rich OFSP in increasing maternal and child vitamin A intake and status. Since then his varieties have been distributed in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Robert’s work is a fundamental piece in the success of the OFSP program and a moment of pride for the McKnight Foundation which awarded him with research grants to support his breeding efforts in Uganda.
Read more from the Mcknight Foundation 2017 annual report – sweetpotato lessons: the case for homegrown solutions
Read more on the 2016 World Food Prize winners on our dedicated website.