Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sweet potato promise shines for small enterprise and hunger relief in developing countries

06.11.2007
Underrated root crop celebrated during 2008 'International Year of the Potato'

Sweetpotatoes, often misunderstood and underrated, are receiving new attention as a life-saving food crop in developing countries.

According to the International Potato Center (www.cipotato.org), more than 95 percent of the global sweetpotato crop is grown in developing countries, where it is the fifth most important food crop. Despite its name, the sweetpotato is not related to the potato. Potatoes are tubers (referring to their thickened stems) and members of the Solanaceae family, which also includes tomatoes, red peppers, and eggplant. Sweetpotatoes are classified as "storage roots" and belong to the morning-glory family.

Scientists believe that sweetpotatoes were domesticated more than 5,000 years ago and reportedly introduced into China in the late 16th century. Because of its hardy nature and broad adaptability, sweetpotato spread through Asia, Africa, and Latin America during the 17th and 18th centuries. It is now grown in more developing countries than any other root crop.

Sweetpotato has a long history as a lifesaving crop. When typhoons demolished thousands of rice fields, Japanese farmers turned to sweetpotato to sustain their country. Sweetpotato kept millions from starvation in famine-plagued China in the early 1960s, and in Uganda, where a virus ravaged cassava crops in the 1990s, the hardy hero came to the rescue, nourishing millions in rural communities.

Rich in carbohydrates and vitamin A, sweetpotatoes are nutrition superstars. Uses range from consumption of fresh roots or leaves to processing into animal feed, starch, flour, candy and alcohol. Because of its versatility and adaptability, sweetpotato ranks as the world¡¯s seventh most important food crop (following wheat, rice, maize, potato, barley, and cassava). Globally, more than 133 million tons of the underrated, vitamin-packed root are produced each year.

Despite its storied history, sweetpotato has received relative little attention from crop improvement research. To bring attention to the issue, a recent study was published by the American Society for Horticultural Science (www.ashs.org). For the study, researchers conducted a survey of 36 scientists from 21 developing countries to solicit opinions on key constraints affecting the productivity of small sweetpotato producers.

Keith Fuglie, of the Resources and Rural Economics Division at the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, led the study. He found consistent key constraints in all major sweetpotato producing areas. Survey respondents indicated that the priority needs in developing countries were: control of viruses, small-enterprise development for sweetpotato processing, improvement in availability and quality of sweetpotato planting material and improved cultivars exhibiting high and stable yield potential.

Some differences emerged, however, in priority needs of the two major centers of sweetpotato production¡ªSub-Saharan Africa and China. Additional priorities for Sub-Saharan Africa included improved control of the sweetpotato weevil and cultivars with high beta carotene content to address Vitamin A deficiency. For China, priorities included: conservation and characterization of genetic resources, prebreeding, cultivars with high starch yield and new product development. According to Fuglie, the different sets of priorities reflect differences in the role of sweetpotato in the rural economy and also different capacities of the agricultural research system in these regions of the world.

Fuglie noted that "these findings could help agricultural scientists working for national and international institutions establish their priorities for sweetpotato crop improvement research. Focusing research on the key productivity constraints facing sweetpotato farmers in a particular country or region will increase the likelihood of farmer adoption and potential impact of the technology resulting from that research."

Principal beneficiaries of the research study will be small-scale sweetpotato farmers in developing countries. Fuglie hopes that emerging technologies based on research will be available for sweetpotato farmers within 5 to 10 years.

Michael W. Neff | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ashs.org
http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/42/5/1200/

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Researchers discover a new link to fight billion-dollar threat to soybean production
14.02.2017 | University of Missouri-Columbia

nachricht Important to maintain a diversity of habitats in the sea
14.02.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>