For organisations and governments looking to strengthen the linkages between agriculture and nutrition Orange-fleshed sweet-potatoes (OSFP), with their high levels of micronutrients, fibre and energy, represent a valuable but underutilized crop which can improve nutritional intake and financial return. As such PCD have been working with school feeding and agriculture stakeholders to promote the adoption and utilization of the OSFP by farmers and schools alike.
To highlight and identify the potential impact of increased OSFP production and consumption the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan and his wife Nane Annan, recently traveled to Tamale in Northern Ghana to meet with OSFP farmers, scientists, government and development stakeholders including the International Potato Centre (CIP), Savannah Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR – SARI), the Ghana School Feeding Programme and the Partnership for Child Development, amongst others.
The field visit was organized on behalf of the Sweet-potato for Profit and Health Initiative which has set the target of 500,000 Ghanaian families regularly consuming OSFP by 2020.
Speaking at the event Nane Annan said that OSFP could help to address stunting amongst children whilst at the same time providing increased income opportunities for local farmers.
Identifying OSFP’s 3-4 harvests per year and relatively low entry costs, Kofi Annan said that increased production would strengthen agricultural value chains which in turn would increase the number of jobs in the food and agricultural sectors.
The Annans spoke of the crop as being essential for food and nutrition security and called on the Government to adopt it as one of its local staples and develop the necessary policies to encourage its uptake.
PCD’s Ghana Programme Manager, Getrude Ananse-Baiden said, "We know from our work supporting farmers in Nigeria and Zanzibar to grow, process and supply OSFP to government-led school feeding programmes how much of a beneficial impact OSFP can have on both the nutritional intake of school children and on the financial prosperity of smallholder farmers as well as school feeding cooks and vendors."
"It is exciting that Ghana’s farmers and children will also be able to benefit from this crop and we are working with the Ghana School Feeding Programme and CIP to ensure it happens soon."