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Introduction to new breeding line of sweet potato

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  • nafsiafricaacro
    Introduction to new breeding line of sweet potato This is a continuation to my previous entry. The next generation To encourage widespread adoption, plant
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2007
      Introduction to new breeding line of sweet potato
      This is a continuation to my previous entry.
      The next generation

      To encourage widespread adoption, plant breeders at the International
      potato center (Kenya)-www.uneca.org/estnet/African_community/ken.html.
      -are working with VITAA partner agencies to introduce 42 improved
      orange-fleshed breed lines. `These are the first in a series of new
      sweet potatoes to emerge from a six year,multi-million dollar breeding
      program,' says CIP Director ,Hubert Zandstra, and should be
      significantly better than the first generation of VITAA clones that
      were introduced by CIP researchers during the early 1990s.'' These
      early orange-fleshed materials were drawn largely from gene bank
      holdings held in trust by the potato center under the auspices of FAO
      (food and agricultural organisation-U.N).

      But will Africa consumers accept the new varieties? To find out, VITAA
      partner from Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
      (KARI)-http://www.kari.org/, the international center for research of
      women (ICRW)-www.icrw.org/', and CIP field-tested several orange
      fleshed plant types in the late 1990's and found that African women
      would accept them in place of the white-fleshed sweet potatoes once
      they recognized their nutritional benefites.The ICRW studies also
      showed that children liked the sweet taste.

      ICRW researcher concluded that adding as little as 100grams of
      orange sweet potatoes to the daily diet could eliminate or
      significantly reduce vitamin A deficiency in children and their
      mothers. A major bioefficacy study conducted in South Africa's Medical
      Research council earlier this year breached similar conclusion.

      AITAA currently working with collaborating agencies in Ethiopia,
      Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda Each of
      these countries is working hard to introduce orange-fleshed varieties,
      but effort are probably most advanced in Uganda, where a host of
      regional organizations and NGOs are promoting the adaptation of the
      new VITAA sweet potatoes at the community level.

      Queen of Buganda backing the initiative

      One of the reasons that VITAA-www.cipotato.org/vitaa/ is doing well
      in Uganda,'' says agronomist Fina Opio, is that Nnaabagereka, the wife
      of the ruler of Bugada – Uganda's largest traditional kingdom-is
      encouraging her subjects to grow the VITAA verities.''

      Opio, who chairs the VITAA steering committee, notes that the Queen is
      held in high esteem by her subject and plays a pivotal role in
      mobilizing development efforts, Last year, early 40,000 Ugandan
      farmers received samples of improved orange-fleshed sweet potatoes for
      planting through the Buganda Cultural and Development Foundation, a
      royal NGO associated with VITAA.

      Opio adds that similar efforts are being made by the James Arawata
      Foundation (JAF), a local NGO that helps refugees in war-torn district
      in the northern part of the country. During lullsin the fighting, she
      says, farmers move from behind to defensive perimeter of the camps to
      attend to their fields. The farmers, who normally grow crops like
      cassava and millet, prefer sweet potato because it matures quickly and
      requires little weed.

      Moreover, for reasons that are not entirely understood, rebel troops
      usually raid cassava fields and leave sweet potato unharmed.
      There also exists more youths involved in Potato farming, and even
      some major towns( urban dwelings) are dotted with potato farms- this
      is a challenge to the Kenyan urban youths also to embrace this idea.

      The contribution of orange-fleshed sweet potato to the nutrition of
      malnourished children and pregnant mothers In displacement camps
      cannot be over-emphasized, says local officials. According to recent
      reports, the situation in the camps is so serious that district
      authorities are using JAF to speed up its deliveries.

      It's Potential.

      ``What we're seeing is a groundswell of support for this common
      sense agricultural approach to a major public health problem,'' says
      economist Joachim von Braun, director general of the Washington
      D.C.-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

      An impact case study conducted by economics working at Michigan State
      University and CIP, von Braun notes, suggests that orange fleshed
      sweet potatoes production is already high, full adoption of orange
      –fleshed sweet potatoes could resolve vitamin A deficiency completely
      for 85 to 95 per cent of those children most at risk, in addition to
      sign cant benefits for childbearing women

      Even in countries that are not major sweet potato producers, such as
      Ethiopia, a third of the population would enjoy partial benefits from
      enhance beta-carotene intake as a result switching from white to
      orange varieties

      Fortication of food crops such as sweet potatoes with higher levels of
      micronutrients a process known as biofortification is not a silver
      bullet "cautions von Braun it can be powerful tool, however and we are
      optimistic that it will benefit large numbers of people in the years
      to come.

      IFPRI and sister centre , the international Centre for Tropical
      Agriculture, head up new CGIAR initiative known as Harvest plus which
      is working to fortify major developing country staples such as beans ,
      cassava, maize, rice wheat and sweet potatoes

      The VITAA experience serves as a model for these effects, providing
      concrete evidence of the effectiveness of food based approaches in
      tackling, micronutrient malnutrition "says Von Braun.

      Story gathered courtesy of F.A.O (food and Agricultural

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