Scaling Up Orange-fleshed Sweetpotato in Africa and Asia

Over the past 15 years, the International Potato Center (CIP) has helped build robust evidence to demonstrate that pro-vitamin A rich, Orange-fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) can combat vitamin A deficiency in children. CIP and its partners have shown that this new food is acceptable in traditional diets and that only one-half cup of OFSP provides the vitamin-A requirement for a single child. Since 2009, CIP and its partners have delivered OFSP to nearly 260,000 households in Mozambique, Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda, Angola, Kenya, and Rwanda. However, this is only the beginning and CIP is currently scaling up its research efforts and development impacts in Africa and Asia in an effort to reach 15 million households with orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) by 2020.

The CGIAR’s announcement to spend at least $400 million on nutrition-sensitive agricultural research over the next three years, as well as £42 million in new funding from the UK to support biofortification efforts, with £12 million earmarked for CIP, underscores the importance of CIP’s role in delivering OFSP to millions of impoverished peoples around the world.

This new support from the UK will enable CIP to reach 1.2 million women and young children in Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, and Mozambique, by collaborating closely with the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) efforts in those countries. In addition, the Government of Nigeria has made a commitment to partner with CIP and reach 102,000 households by 2017. In India, the state government of Odishia has made a major commitment to deliver OFSP to 250,000 households and USAID support will help bring OFSP to 100,000, mainly female headed households in Bangladesh.

The announcement of the UK funding to support this CIP effort was made by UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening at the Nutrition for Growth event organized by the UK Government in advance of the G8 Summit. In remarks made to the Nutrition for Growth participants, CIP Director General Pamela K. Anderson stated that, “working with businesses to drive consumption of orange-fleshed sweetpotato products is critical.” Anderson accentuated the importance of working with local businesses by drawing upon the example of CIP’s role with Rwanda’s largest commercial bakery, SINA Enterprises. With the help of CIP, SINA Enterprises has incorporated orange-fleshed sweetpotato into a range of commercial food products – stimulating demand and reducing dependence on imported wheat and flour.

At the event, CIP endorsed the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact along with a total of 94 stakeholders, including 26 governments and 27 business and science organizations. The event brought together heads of state, ministers, business leaders and representatives from donor, civil society, and UN agencies in order to push nutrition to the top of the international political agenda. It sought ambitious policy and financial commitments from participants to eradicate poverty, help countries to develop and prosper, and give every human being the opportunity to lead a healthy and productive life by ensuring the right to a safe, nutritious, and sufficient food supply.