The valuable qualities of sweet potato, from high levels of vitamin A to its short harvest time, can be further enhanced through breeding to produce more drought-tolerant varieties that compensate for tougher climatic conditions.
This can have profound benefits for household food and nutrition security at a time when an estimated 100 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of blindness from vitamin A deficiency.
Not only then does sweet potato offer a resilient, consistent source of food in harsher climates, it is also highly nutritious, providing an incredible value for health in an otherwise challenging environment.
Just 125 grams of orange-fleshed sweet potato provides the daily intake of vitamin A needed to avoid illness, blindness and stunting, while its edible leaves are a rich source of lutein, essential for preventing sight degeneration.
Finally, harnessing the versatility of sweet potato to meet consumer demand for a whole range of different products – from breads and cakes to chips and biscuits – can also generate an additional source of income for millions of smallholder farmers and create employment opportunities for young entrepreneurs.