The prize-winning sweetpotato helping farmers respond to climate change

Media: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

While multiple global interventions must come together to prevent this future, we already have solutions that can help. I work as a director at the International Potato Center (CIP), which is part of CGIAR, the world’s foremost agricultural research organization (funded in part by the Gates Foundation), and one solution I’m especially optimistic about is a remarkable, vividly-colored root called the orange-fleshed sweetpotato.

James Mutinda, a farmer in Kenya, explains in the video above how rising temperatures and changing weather patterns make it much harder for smallholder farmers like him, who cultivate 80% of the farms and produce 90% of the food in sub-Saharan Africa, to plan and grow a successful harvest. In Kenya, weather patterns have changed and rain no longer falls as it once did. Since 2020, five consecutive rainy seasons have failed, precipitating the worst drought in 40 years. This puts farmers at risk of losing the livelihoods they and their families rely on.

This scenario could play out among farming families across Africa, with the effects rippling outward—fewer smallholder farmers means less food for communities and more people facing poverty and hunger.