A Magic Wand for Nutrition and Incomes in Mozambique?
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Smallholder farmers in Mozambique are growing nutritious and lucrative varieties of orange-fleshed sweet potato.
Some 135,000 smallholder farmers in Mozambique, around half of them women, are eager to plant vitamin-enriched varieties of sweet potato, developed in the country over the past 15 years to help alleviate malnutrition. The demand for the new varieties is the result of good yields, as well as a campaign to engage farmers and educate consumers about the benefits of the new crop.
The orange sweet potato, a rich source of vitamin A, was first brought into the country in the late 1990s, following reports of high levels of vitamin A deficiency, mainly among women and children aged under five.
A group of Mozambican researchers from different disciplines discussed setting up the Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP) initiative, and decided that investing in production of the crop would help address the problem of vitamin A deficiency.
The initiative quickly gained momentum because female farmers were already familiar with growing sweet potatoes, and the new variety could easily be distributed to farmers across the country, according to Maria Isabel Andrade, the initiative’s Maputo-based lead researcher, and Mozambique’s representative at the International Potato Center (CIP).