Sweetpotato is one of the world’s most important food crops in terms of human consumption, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Asia, and the Pacific Islands. First domesticated more than 5,000 years ago in Latin America, it is grown in more developing countries than any other root crop.
Despite its name, sweetpotato is not related to the potato. It is a root, not a tuber, and belongs to the morning-glory family. Many parts of the plant are edible, including leaves, roots, and vines, and varieties exist with a wide range of skin and flesh color, from white to yellow-orange and deep purple.
Sweetpotato grows in marginal conditions, requiring little labor and chemical fertilizers. It is a cheap, nutritious solution for developing countries needing to grow more food on less area for rapidly multiplying populations. It also provides inexpensive, high-protein fodder for animals.
CIP’s extensive sweetpotato collection contains over 8,000 accessions (about a thousand of which are wild) from all over the Americas, Asia, and Africa.