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Nov 28, 2011

HarvestPlus Nutritionally Enhanced Vitamin A Orange Sweet Potato Popular in Mozambique

Orange sweet potato on the left
is a HarvestPlus biofortified
with vitamin A compared to a
common white sweet potato on the right
Photo: HarvestPlus

In October 2011, SciDev.Net reported that the British Journal of Nutrition had published an article on the growing popularity and acceptance of HarvestPlus' nutritionally enhanced vitamin A sweet potato.  The biofortified sweet potato was not created using gene modified methods.  Rather, it was nutritionally enhanced using traditional hybridization and conventional agricultural methods.

Over three years, Mozamibican villagers were offer the chance to sample the differences between white, yellow, and biofortified orange sweet potatoes.  Over time, an estimated 10,000 households in the Zambezia Province in Mozambique sampled both HarvestPlus vitamin A sweet potatoes and maize.  Approximately two-thirds of the people who tried HarvestPlus vitamin A sweet potatoes were interested in adopting the new variety.

In this study, "researchers used agricultural extension methods and market development activities, combined with 'demand creation' and nutrition education, to introduce six varieties to the province."  Overall, they concluded that making the switch to the biofortified HarvestPlus variety doubled the average vitamin A intake in children and women. Vitamin A deficiency is very common in low-income nations.  It can weaken the immune system and lead to blindness.  Pregnant women and young children are most likely to be deficient.

HarvestPlus said that "new, more drought-tolerant, orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties will be distributed to 120,000 households over the next two years."




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About Margaret


CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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