Americans get their share of sweet potatoes especially during the holidays and even replacing the white potato because of its nutritional and health benefits.

In Africa where 1 out of every 3 children under 5 suffers from Vitamin A deficiency; the leading cause of preventable blindness in developing countries.  The International Potato Center (CIP) has been researching and marking the sweet potato in Africa with positive results.

Africa had a sweet potato that was white and yellow in color and not a good source of vitamin A.  The sweet potatoes in the U.S. are orange in color and very high in vitamins and nutrients and especially vitamin A.  The sweet potato is not related to the potato.  It is a root and belongs to the morning-glory family.  Many parts of the plant are edible, including the leaves, roots and vines.

The CIP developed a starchier version of the sweet potato that was similar in taste to Africa’s sweet potato and now orange in color.  A big campaign was initiated to market the sweet potato and its benefits via radio advertisements and visits to the villages.  “The orange-fleshed sweet potato has reached 2.2 million households, which amounts to roughly 10 million people in Africa.”  This campaign is reducing the vitamin A deficiency in children and preventing blindness and even death.  The research team was awarded the World Food Prize in 2016 for this proud effort.

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