The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Kofi Annan Foundation say an initiative aimed at increasing the consumption of highly nutritious sweet potato varieties will help deal with malnutrition in Ghana.
The two entities have since 2021 embarked on a project to support increased availability and consumption of the orange – fleshed sweet potato (OFSP), which has high levels of vitamin A.
“At AGRA we are happy to contribute to strengthen the orange – fleshed sweet potato value chain and we are supporting this initiative with $800,000 grant to a consortium of 8 very dynamic implementing partners led by the Kofi Annan Foundation,” Programme Officer at AGRA, Regina Richardson said at a multi-stakeholder platform and awareness creation event on the OFSP in Accra.
“Ghana is seeking to strengthen the integration of nutrition in health and increase women empowerment in agriculture and we know the role that the orange-fleshed sweet potato variety plays in ensuring some of these achievements to the benefit of the population. It is a versatile and climate resilient crop,” she added.
Mrs. Nane Annan of the Kofi Annan Foundation expressed concern in Africa, about 56 million children under 5 years are undernourished, whilst 30 million are acutely undernourished. “Vitamin A deficiency remains a major public health problem in many African countries making children vulnerable to infections and diseases and preventing them from developing fully,” she said.
“We are all united in strengthening rural economies on OFSD value chains as a way of tackling malnutrition and improving livelihoods. Fighting malnutrition is at the very core of this project,” Mrs. Annan added.
What is Orange – Fleshed Sweet Potato?
Sweet potato is a starchy tuber crop consumed widely across Ghana, Africa and the rest of the world. As part of efforts to improve the consumption of vitamin A in Africa, the orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) was developed. OFSP contains high levels of beta-carotene which gives consumers vitamin A.
Research shows that just 125 grams of cooked OFSP is enough for children to meet their daily vitamin A needs. This helps avoid night blindness and other diseases in children.
The Kofi Annan Foundation, with funding from AGRA in 2021 rolled out the ‘Demand Creation and Impact Scaling Project for Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato’ project to promote the variety in Ghana. The project is working to create awareness about OFSP and mobilise political will and support for its use in combating malnutrition.
The Crop Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ohumpong Investments Ltd, Dorothy Kani Company Ltd, Fresh Logistics, Veronica Ossei Frimpong Farms, Reputed Agriculture 4 Development and E. Darkey & Associates are the other partners on the project.
Fabian Lange, a senior programme Manager at the Kofi Annan Foundation told the event over the last quarter, the project has rolled out activities to engage a number of stakeholders to raise awareness about the OFSP. He said some training activities have also been undertaken by partners.