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 Light green plants save nitrogen without sacrificing photosynthetic efficiency
21.11.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Filling intercropping info gap
16.11.2017 | American Society of Agronomy

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: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

21.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>