Given viable market information, sweet potato farmers may reduce the post harvest food losses wasted on farm, benefit in trade and other socio-economic endeavours.
Peter O Lanya, Vice Chairman-Agriculture, Tanzania Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) made the remarks on Tuesday at the end of a workshop organised by the US-based Helen Keller International to discuss the advocacy and resource mobilisation strategy to facilitate Orange Fleshed Sweat Potatoes (OFSP) farming in Tanzania.
As it turns out, there is a large and growing market for sweet potatoes across the globe; From Dubai and the Middle East including Turkey to the US and even across Europe.
“The sweet potatoes’ market abroad is very good…people need only be informed where and how to access the market and where and when the price is good” he insisted.
A kg of sweet potatoes is currently selling at a retail price of more than 2 USD a price farmers are calling ‘nice’.
The demand for Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes is mostly thanks to its medicinal value. The crop is potent in nutrients, said to it contain very high levels of carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that can help prevent some forms of cancer and heart disease, and act to enhance your immune response to infections.
It both serves as a preventive measure by boosting the immune system but also at its elemental level, curative protein strains may be extracted and utilized to save lives. Medical properties of the root tuber may help the fight against various forms of chronic disease and its vitamin A comes in handy for pregnant and lactating women.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as 140 million children, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia, suffer from vitamin A deficiency (VAD). In addition to causing premature blindness, VAD compromises the immune system, and can increase the risk of illness and death from diseases such as malaria and measles.
Each year, it is estimated that 670,000 children will die from vitamin A deficiency (VAD), and 350,000 will go blind.
Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes are also less labor intensive compared to most other staple crops and this is particularly helpful to labor-constrained households such as those affected by HIV/AIDs. The crop can also be planted over a broad range of time without considerable yield loss and can fill some seasonal gaps in energy and vitamin A intake.
Researchers in the country have been called to conduct more research and come up with the best vines and strands.
Peter O Lanya emphasized that although some varieties of sweet potatoes have been studied at Maruku Research Institute, Tengeru Research Institute and Kizimbani Research Institute, researchers still have a role in supporting farmers to grow hybrid sweet potatoes vines to increase production.
In an attempt to tap into the huge market in foreign countries, Lanya, working with the Tanzania Agricultural Productivity Programme is distributing sweet potato vines to farmers in the Coast region in places like Vikindu, Mwandege, Mkuranga, and Mvuti. He obtains the vines from the Tengeru Research Institute in Arusha
“I give them the vines to grow and care for then I come back and buy the produce which I turn around and export.”
He also has 10 hectares of land dedicated to 6 different varieties of sweet potatoes that he uses for demonstration to farmers.
The vice chairman invites farmers to visit the TCCIA for market information and/or to join the TCCIA.
Posted on howstuffworks.com, a health and nutrition website, research shows that people who eat a lot of foods rich in beta-carotene (the carotenoid with the greatest vitamin A value) are less likely to develop lung cancer. Even among smokers, lung cancer is less likely to occur in those people who eat a diet that includes lots of vegetables and fruits containing beta-carotene. Taking a beta-carotene supplement in pill form does not always have the same effect, however.
So eating foods high in carotenoids or taking supplements helps with primary protection from cancer, that is, the cancer never gets started.
But after you have a growing colony of cancerous cells in your system, beta-carotene supplements may prevent your own system from fighting the cancer, making carotenoid supplementation significantly less safe for what is called secondary prevention, that is stopping a recurrence of cancer.