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 Trees and climate change: Faster growth, lighter wood
14.08.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Animals and fungi enhance the performance of forests
01.08.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

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: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>