Community of Practice meets to discuss how to increase Sweetpotato Products in the African Market and Improve Nutrition

The Community of Practice brings together professionals working on all levels of the sweetpotato value chain, as well as private sector players who are innovating processing and utilization of orange-fleshed sweetpotato for commercial products.

One of the participants, Lucas Mujuju is an entrepreneur in Chimoio region in Mozambique. His Zebra farm is diversifying from soymilk and yoghurt production to include sweetpotato juice and cookies whose ingredients are primarily soya and sweetpotato pulp. He was in Nairobi to share his experiences on getting started with commercializing sweetpotato products.

“In Chimoio, sweetpotato farmers had difficulties getting their sweetpotatoes to the market. Now, with our ability to process, they are sure that they have a ready market. We expect their incomes to improve, and because they grow the vitamin-A rich orange-fleshed sweetpotato, they will also improve their health and nutrition,” he said.

In Rwanda, the Rwanda Superfoods company is a successful enterprise built on the foundation of sweetpotato, and produces biscuits, bread and doughnuts.. The company has steadily grown its customer base in Kigali and other towns. The Community of Practice enabled Lucas to learn a few things about marketing his products from Rwanda Superfoods.

From Homa Bay County in Kenya, a manager of an agro-processing company, Gabriel Oduor, reported that this company, Organi Ltd, has increased the volume of sweetpotatoes it orders from farmers, which are processed into puree for sale to other manufacturers in Kenya. “We started out in Homa Bay, but we are now buying orange-fleshed sweetpotato from as far away as Busia. Farmers are guaranteed a price of Ksh. 14 per kilo at predictable intervals, and we believe this will drive production and benefits higher,” he says.

Members also discussed issues related to storage of sweetpotato roots for shelf-life extension, models for integrating agriculture and nutrition into health service delivery and enhancing sweetpotato value chains to improve markets for farmers.

This Community of Practice meeting was held under the umbrella of the Africa-wide Sweetpotato Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI). SPHI is a 10-year initiative led by the International Potato Centre (CIP), and it is expected to improve the lives of 10 million households by 2020 in 17 target countries. Launched in 2009, the project had already reached over 1 million households by the end of December 2014. One of the key intervention areas is improving the sweetpotato value chain by researching and implementing actions that will remove bottlenecks related to processing, marketing and utilization of sweetpotato products. The overall objective continues to be to develop the essential capacities, products, and methods to reposition sweetpotato in food economies to alleviate poverty and under-nutrition in Africa. Speaking at the start of the event, Jan Low, the SPHI leader, called on participants to think of innovative ways to fast-track the achievement of the SPHI targets.

The activities of the Community of Practice are in line with the regional nutrition strategy being pursued by the African Union. There is a huge momentum towards agriculture and nutrition on the continent. 2014 was declared the Year for Agriculture and Nutrition in Africa, and African Heads of State have recommitted to dedicating 10 percent of their national budgets to improving Agriculture, taking nutrition into account.

For more information please contact: Jan Low: j.low@cgiar.org or Christine Bukania: c.bukania@cgiar.org

NOTES TO MEDIA

The Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative is (SPHI) is a 10 year, multi donor initiative that seeks to reduce child malnutrition and improve smallholder incomes through the effective production and expanded use of sweetpotato. It aims to build consumer awareness or sweetpotato’s nutritional benefits, diversify its use, and increase market opportunities, especially in expanding urban markets of Sub-Saharan Africa. The SPHI is expected to improve the lives of 10 million households by 2020 in 17 target countries.

The International Potato Center (known by its Spanish acronym CIP) is a research-for-development organization with a focus on potato, sweetpotato and Andean roots and tubers. CIP is dedicated to delivering sustainable science-based solutions to the pressing world issues of hunger, poverty, gender equity, climate change, and the preservation of our Earth’s fragile biodiversity and natural resources.

CIP is a member of the CGIAR Consortium, an international organization made up of 15 centers engaged in research for a food secure future. This global agriculture research partnership is dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources, in close collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector.

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