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Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are among the seven most produced food crops in the world, surpassed only by wheat, rice, corn, potato, barley, and cassava (Franklin Martin, ECHO Technical Note) Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes (OFSP) are rich in vitamin A, which is very commonly deficient in children under five living in sub-Saharan Africa and dangerous, and can cause blindness, poor cognitive development, low immunity to diarrheal disease, measles and other diseases.

Adive with sweet potatoes

Adiveckson Harold shows new sweet potato vines growing at ECHO.

In Nov 2013, an African pioneer biotechnologist, Wilfred Mushobozi, who founded Eco Agri Consult invited ECHO staff to a seminar on sweet potato vine dissemination, and shared his vision of engaging ECHO and other NGO’s in the 4 stage process of disseminating the vines. Eco-Agri Consult’s Bio-technology Tissue Culture Laboratory lies near ECHO East Africa center and currently produces tissue culture plants of bananas, cassava, coffee, and four types of OFSPs (Stage 1 in the 4 stage process of OFSP dissemination). In December of 2013 ECHO spearhead its participation in promoting adoption of OFSP for nutrition at the house hold level by constructing two tunnels containing 600 vines (stage 2) to produce disease and pest-free vines for village vine producers who provide vines to their neighbors (stage 3), and who then grow the vines for tuber production (stage 4). ECHO also has allocated an area of the demonstration garden to grow out vines for direct dissemination to farmers (stage 3). This production system is aimed to improve distribution systems to reach more clients and partners.

These efforts were appreciated with some of the development agents such as Dr. Francis Shao who asked the ECHO staff (Adiveckson Harold, demo plot assistant) to assist him in establishing 2 tunnels of OFSP vines in his village school 140 km from the ECHO Regional Impact Center. There he aims to equip youth to acquire life skills in sustainable agriculture practices while improving home nutrition. These efforts were recently recognized by FIDA – Coordinator Lomayani Laizer who noted,

ECHO solves the problem of poverty among our people by rolling simple and adaptable innovations for the betterment of our communities. Press on producing such products (like orange flesh sweet potatoes) to alleviate malnutrition and maximize protein in -take. Eastern Africa Regional Food Security and Climate Change Project Office, located within Habari Maalum premises, nearby the main gate joins ECHO in fighting poverty which is our common goal. God bless your efforts!

Currently ECHO is continuing networking with other partners in rolling out and disseminating these new potatoes. ECHO is growing both the ‘Kabode’ and ‘Beira’ varieties from tissue culture, as well as traditional ‘Matembele’ vines excellent for greens, production and sale. Interested in any of these three orange fleshed sweet potato varieties?

Contact: cbonaventure@echocommunity.org or visit our impact center in Arusha.


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