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Nigerian Schools Adopt Sweet Potato to Boost Nutrition

06:44 EDT 22 Jun 2017 | Meridian Institute

A school feeding program in Nigeria is using orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP) in an effort to fight vitamin A deficiency in children. In Nigeria, one in three children suffer from vitamin A deficiency, which is a factor in the increasing under-five mortality rate. The OFSP was developed by the National Root Crop Research Institute in Nigeria and the International Potato Center (CIP), Peru. According to Erna Abidin, the manager of CIP’s Jumpstarting OFSP project in West Africa, “Results from research revealed that one small-to-medium boiled root of most OFSP varieties can supply the recommended daily amount of vitamin A for young children and non-breastfeeding women.” The roots of the OFSP have a nutritional advantage over white- or cream-colored sweet potato roots as they contain beta-carotene, resulting in a higher vitamin A content. Cultivating this sweet potato on just 500 square meters of land can supply the needs of a family. Says Jude Njoku, the national coordinator of the sweet potato program and a senior agronomist at CIP, “Farmers in Osun state are growing the Mothers Delight variety [which is] very high in beta-carotene. Its dry matter is low but school children love it since it is sweet and not too hard."

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