ECHO East Africa Notes EAN Issue #4
Sweet Potato Varieties in East Africa
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.
Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease in East Africa
With farmers all across East Africa planting maize during the rainy season, the Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND) disease is something to be aware of. The Disease which is a result of a combination of two viruses: the Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus and any of the cereal viruses (Sugarcane Mosaic Virus, Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus, and Maize Dwarf Mosaic Virus) has occurred in the Arusha area including our farm at the East Africa Impact Center.
The passionfruit family certainly has its surprises. ECHO East Africa has obtained seed from the banana passionfruit: Passiflora tarminiana from Kenya. Originally from the highlands of South America, this fruit is more often grown as an ornamental than for fruit. Like other passionfruit, the plant is a vine and grows vigorously but the banana passionfruit’s flowers are soft purple to red while fruits are oblong and resemble small straight bananas. The pulp may be eaten fresh, made into juice or deserts. Another great feature of the species is that it is self- compatible and should fruit regardless if pollinators present or not.
A Focus on Perennial Vegetables
One approach in the pursuit for reducing hunger and poverty is increasing the availability of nutritious foods. Gardens and leafy vegetables offer a solution for those who have limited space, but what about areas prone to drought? Chaya, Moringa and other perennial greens are great sources of nutrition all through the year. Along the ECHO EA gardens, visitors can see and learn about the value of perennial vegetables. Among those highlighted by ECHO are twenty listed as the top 20 high protein greens.