We need to scale up OFSP to combat vitamin A deficiency…
Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has observed that the nutritional value of orange-fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) is not widely recognised and, as a result, is not sought after by consumers and marketers alike.
He made this comment while addressing a dissemination workshop in Accra this week to conclude a 3-year pilot project called: “Jumpstarting Orange-Fleshed Sweet potato in West Africa through Diversified Markets”.
The 3-year pilot, which ended in March this year, started in April 2014 in Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, with the vision of sustainable and inclusive market-driven approaches for OFSP to increase income, and improve health through consumption of vitamin A rich OFSP.
The Beta-carotene in OFSP is said to help combat Vitamin A deficiency, which is responsible for night blindness, increased susceptibility to infectious diseases and impaired growth and development.
The Minister noted that just 100 grams of OFSP meets the daily vitamin A needs of a young child, and considering the high spate of vitamin A deficiency in sub-Sahara Africa, including Ghana, the pilot was meant to upscale the production and consumption of this important root crop.
Vitamin A is a required dietary nutrient that most children under five years, and lactating women, suffer from in sub-Saharan Africa, and this can easily be addressed by encouraging the consumption of OFSP.
Sweet potato is widely consumed in Ghana as a staple, or and as a delicacy and the population only needs to be cognizant of its nutritional value and if adequately promoted, could earn decent incomes for farmers.
Additionally, it favours our topography and weather conditions and takes only three months to mature. Ghana’s most notable global citizen, Kofi Annan and his wife Nani Annan, have expressed interest in the potential of OFSP and have promoted its potential, which needs to be scaled up.
The opportunities for OFSP in Ghana are immense and scaling up OFSP will definitely benefit both rural and urban dwellers and generate income and employment for farmers. The education on OFSP must be intensified so as to make more Ghanaians realise its health benefits.