New potato varieties to fight malnutrition

A new nutritious sweet potato breed has been rolled out in selected districts in the country to help in the fight against mulnutrition.
Heck speaks during the launch of the Sustain project in Kigali on Tuesday. (Courtesy)
Heck speaks during the launch of the Sustain project in Kigali on Tuesday. (Courtesy)

A new nutritious sweet potato breed has been rolled out in selected districts in the country to help in the fight against mulnutrition.

The breed has been introduced by Scaling Up Sweet potato Through Agriculture and Nutrition (Sustain) project in partnership with Rwanda Agriculture Board (Rab).

 

The move aims at improving nutrition, incomes and food production in the country.

 

Speaking at the launch on Tuesday, in Kigali, Simon Heck, director of Sustain and programme head at International Potatoes Centre (IPC), said the potatoes are rich in vitamin A and its production.

 

“So many products such as bread, cakes, biscuits, snacks, juice and high grade starch for pharmaceutical industries can be made from sweet potatoes,’’ he said.

Indyo Inoze in Muhanga District is one cooperative that produces products from orange sweet potatoes like cakes, doughnuts and bread.

Dr Jean Jacques Muhindo, the director general of Rab, said the project will help increase household incomes and improve dietary standards in the selected districts.

Agriculture provides 90 per cent of the national food needs and contributes more than 70 per cent of the county’s export revenue.

According to latest statistics from the Ministry of Health, 44 per cent of children under five are stunted, 12 per cent are underweight, 3 per cent are wasted while 7 per cent of infant are born with a low birth weight.

Muhindo said 125 grammes of fresh orange sweet potatoes provide enough vitamin A required for an adult daily.

The project is operating in Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique.

Sustain is a four-year project that targets pregnant women and children under five years and is to be implemented in five districts of Rwanda namely; Muhanga, Kayonza, Rwamagana, Kamonyi and Ruhango.

The project has come to scale up the activities of Rwanda Super Food Proof-of-Concept (Sasha) project that wound up in 2014.

It will help in reducing malnutrition, combating vitamin A deficiency and improving incomes for the beneficiaries by eating orange sweet potatoes that are rich in vitamin A. The sweet potato farming harvest period is six months.

One hectare can produce up to 18 tonnes while the same quantity for the old breed could be produced on four hectares.

Government started different programmes to fight malnutrition in the country, especially in schools, such as one pint of milk per child.

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