The humble sweet potato can help power Africa in the face of climate change

The humble sweet potato can help power Africa in the face of climate change

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.  

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