Talking Biotech: The story of a vitamin-infused sweet potato that helped cut Africa’s infant mortality 25 percent

The 2016 World Food Prize went to a group that coordinated the breeding, promotion and distribution of the orange-fleshed sweet potato in Africa. One of [the researchers] on the team was economist Dr. Jan Low. The sweet potato grows well in many parts of Africa. It is not the sweet potato known to westerners. It is white and dry, and more like bread than the well known Thanksgiving sweet potato.

At the same time there is widespread vitamin A deficiency, especially among children. Could the orange sweet potato help solve a critical micronutrient deficiency? Dr. Low and her team introduced the orange fleshed sweet potato to Africa, breeding them against locally adapted varieties. The new potatoes were introduced with marketing campaigns, helping introduce new populations to this novel product. Soon, the orange fleshed sweet potato was aiding the diet, saving lives, and creating new entrepreneurial opportunities for African farmers and commerce.

Related article:  Talking Biotech: As demand for food rises, the world needs more plant scientists

Follow Jan: @JanLow1 and visit her website.

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Follow Kevin Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta | Facebook: Facebook.com/kmfolta/ | Lab website: Arabidopsisthaliana.com | All funding: Kevinfolta.com/transparency

Follow Paul Vincelli on Twitter @Pvincell | University of Kentucky webpage 

1 thought on “Talking Biotech: The story of a vitamin-infused sweet potato that helped cut Africa’s infant mortality 25 percent”

  1. Thanks for sharing this one GLP! This is a beautiful story, and it shows that vitamin fortification CAN work! Greenpeace and others that say it can never work really need to pay attention. This is not a GE crop, but it shows that GE crops could have done the same thing a long time ago.

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