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July 3rd, 2018 / BizCommunity

Scientists should conduct more research to create sweet potato varieties that can withstand floods and help turn the crop into other products to attract the youth to agriculture, a meeting has heard. The meeting assembled over 100 research scientists and agricultural economists from sub-Saharan Africa to review progress on sweet potato breeding.

Progress has been made in terms of breeding new potato varieties such as the orange sweet potato that is highly nutritious and could help fight vitamin A deficiency in children, according to the meeting held in Kenya this month.

Five new varieties of sweet potato have been released in Kenya and Uganda in the last two years, says Jan Low, an agricultural economist at the International Potato Center (CIP).

Lusike Wasilwa, director of crop systems at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation, tells SciDev.Net: “Sweet potato has for a long time been underutilised as a food crop in sub-Saharan Africa but it is gaining prominence.” Wasilwa calls for scientists to conduct more research to help use the crop to boost food security in the midst of climate change-related impacts such as floods and prolonged droughts. Read more