Biotech Updates

Solomon Islanders Plant Vitamin A-Rich Potatoes

August 26, 2011

Biofortified sweet potato has been proven to improve the vitamin A status of African children particularly in Uganda and Mozambique. Aside from alleviating vitamin A deficiency, the biofortified sweet potato crops also exhibit favorable agronomic traits such as virus resistance and drought tolerance.

At present, vitamin A-rich orange sweet potatoes (OSP) do not just benefit women and children in Uganda and Mozambique, but also those living in Solomon Islands. This was initiated through a project of Graham Lyons, an Australian researcher form Adelaide University. He has identified high-vitamin A varieties of sweet potato which are also high yielding, pest resistant and suitable to local growing conditions. Before the project started, farmers were planting OSP but most of them were not aware about the nutritive value of the crop.

In recent years, a large percentage of the residents of Solomon Islands were dependent on processed foods, leading to increased occurrence of malnutrition, diabetes, and chronic heart disease. Thus, OSP and other vitamin A-rich food would be of great help to the residents. The project also used various activities such as educational campaigns, community plantings, and nutrition workshops to inform and involve the participants in improving their food security and health status.

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