Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are already the 6th or 7th most produced food crop in the world, surpassed only by wheat, rice, corn, potato, barley, and possibly cassava. Among the reasons that sweet potato is a great crop is that it is relatively easy to grow, relatively free of pests and diseases, has relatively high productivity, and is always good food, principally starch, some protein and vitamin C, and, in orange varieties, rich in vitamin A. In addition, the young leaves, rich in protein and most vitamins, are also good food. Furthermore, the sweet potato is an excellent animal food.
Its ability to produce in poor soils makes the sweet potato an especially good crop for poor tropical soils where fertilizer is not available. If the leaves are also used as food, sweet potato will probably produce more nutrients per acre than almost any other crop under those conditions. (The other tropical crop that produces well on poor soils and also has both edible roots and leaves is cassava. It has an advantage over sweet potato in drought tolerance, but sweet potato has the advantage in nutrients. That is because substances called polyphenols in the cassava leaf combine with protein during cooking and reduce the amount of protein that is digestible.)
Nevertheless, like all crops the sweet potato must be produced with understanding in order to obtain maximum yields. It should never be treated with neglect.
- WHY GROW SWEET POTATOES?
- CLIMATIC, SOIL, AND OTHER REQUIREMENTS FOR GROWING SWEET POTATO
- HARVEST & STORAGE
- PRINCIPLE USES OF SWEET POTATOES
Cite this article as:
Martin, F.W. 1988. Sweet Potato. ECHO Technical Note no. 18.