Orange fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) shines at KALRO’s Kilimo Biashara Expo

Participants during the Kilimo Biashara Expo at KALRO Seeds Headquarters, Murang’a County. Credit Sheewa Saikah (CIP), March 2024

An exciting event recently took place in Kenya amidst the lush landscapes of Murang’a county. The lush landscapes served as the backdrop for the Kilimo Biashara Expo, organized by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) on March 14th and 15th, 2024. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill agricultural gathering; it was a celebration of innovation and collaboration in the industry.

At the heart of the expo was the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) initiative, shining a spotlight on the orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) compact technologies led by the International Potato Center (CIP). The expo provided a perfect platform for showcasing these technologies, focusing on OFSP production and value addition. The exhibition coordinated by the TAAT clearing house featured other TAAT compacts such as High Iron beans, Maize, and the Youth enabler. With over 1000 participants, approximately 70% women and 60% youth, visiting the exhibition stall, the enthusiasm for OFSP was undeniable.

The OFSP Compact stole the show with its impressive lineup of technologies, including seed systems, healthy baby toolkits for child complementary feeding, and value-addition innovations. “I am amazed by the rich exhibition made by the TAAT OFSP compact. The products you are displaying are unbelievable to many people,” remarked Yarama Ndirapya, the TAAT East Africa Regional Coordinator, who coordinated the exhibition of all TAAT compacts,

Participants during the Kilimo Biashara Expo at KALRO Seeds Headquarters, Murang’a County. Credit Sheewa Saikah (CIP), March 2024

The excitement didn’t stop there. Government officials and industry leaders, including the Director of KALRO and the County Minister of Trade and Industry, were equally impressed by the potential of OFSP technologies. Visitors to the OFSP Compact exhibition tasted the value-added products. They were convinced they could prepare them at household or commercial scale, thanks to CIP’s Food Scientist, Dr. Mukani Moyo’s passion and simplicity in explaining how the products can be made.

The selling of sweetpotato vines at KALRO seeds stall. People were encouraged to buy and grow the OFSP varieties so that at harvest, they can make several OFSP products. Credit N.Kwikiriza, March 2024

Reflecting on the expo and the future of OFSP technologies, there’s a clear consensus: the potential for adoption is immense. “The high acceptability of the products, the reduction in the gluten content of the products, savings to bakeries on wheat replacement, and the nutritional importance of OFSP as a rich source of vitamin A will drive this demand,” noted Mukani and the team.

Indeed, the future looks bright for OFSP. Its nutritional benefits and versatility in value-added products are poised to revolutionize the agricultural landscape. As demand continues to grow, entrepreneurs at every level have an opportunity to capitalize on this burgeoning market. So, whether you’re a farmer, a foodie, or simply curious about the future of agriculture, keep an eye on OFSP. It’s more than just a sweetpotato —it’s a symbol of progress and possibility in the world of farming.