Sweet Potato

February 10, 2016
USAID/GhanaThe couple above are project beneficiaties from a multi-sectoral approach that includes providing agricultural and nutritional training, providing animals for farm use, improving WASH infrastructure, introducing farmers to markets, and more.

Before last year’s harvest, most people living in the northern region of Ghana had never seen an orange-fleshed sweet potato. Now, this brightly colored vegetable may be on its way to becoming the region’s most popular crop.

This variety of potato was recently introduced to communities in Northern Ghana through a USAID project to counter Vitamin A deficiency — a condition that compromises the immune system and can lead to blindness. Last year, 439 women in 17 districts learned how to cultivate orange-fleshed sweet potatoes for the first time.

The villagers lovingly call the new crop Alafie Wuljo,” which means “healthy potato” in the local language of Dagbani. At one community’s first harvest celebration, the head of the project Philippe LeMay recalls how government officials and community leaders came to learn how to use the new crop in the kitchen.

There were several cooking demonstrations, but the sweet potato fries were a hit among schoolchildren. “Now everyone wants to grow orange-fleshed sweet potatoes,” said LeMay.

But encouraging farmers to plant nutritious crops is just one of several strategies employed by this project to address malnutrition in northern Ghana. Besides agriculture, we are also working on improving livelihoods; governance; nutrition; and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). These sectors are interrelated and help to achieve common goals.

The project introduces new and more nutritious crops to farmers and helps them boost yields through improved farming techniques. It also links farmers to markets, helps community members create village savings and loans associations, works to improve water and sanitation infrastructure, and promotes better hygiene.

Ghana is one of the first countries to put USAID’s Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy into action. The fresh approach, which will guide our work through 2025, cuts across several development areas, resulting in programs that are more cost-effective and deliver greater impact around the world.

The strength of USAID programs in more than 100 countries provides a large delivery platform for scaling up nutrition services. Just scaling up nutrition-specific interventions to 90 percent coverage will generate a ratio in which every dollar invested yields a $16 rate of return.

At a regional Global Learning and Evidence Exchange workshop in Accra, Ghana last month, project representatives shared their experiences, explaining how they overcame the challenges of coordinating across different development sectors. In some countries, technical offices such as agriculture, nutrition and WASH aren’t used to working together. LeMay thinks the transition went smoothly in Ghana in part because the various technical offices are housed within the same government structure.

The northern region of Ghana has developed at a much slower pace than the rest of the country because of its remote location, limited resources, sparse population and inhospitable climate. More than a third of children under 5 in these districts suffer from stunted growth, a result of poor nutrition.

With this project — implemented by the Government of Ghana with technical support from Global Communities — we aim to reach about 300,000 people by targeting the region’s most vulnerable population — women of reproductive age with at least one child under 5 in households identified by their communities as the poorest of the poor. The project is supporting Feed the Future’s goals of decreasing child stunting by 20 percent and doubling the incomes of vulnerable households in the north.

Through an innovative government-to-government approach, USAID and local government officials from the Northern Regional Coordinating Council are working together to plan how best to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable households.

To build the capacity of local governments to implement these plans, the project provides training, technical assistance and tools. Notably, this is one of only a handful of USAID efforts that engage governments at the sub-regional levels to support local solutions.

The result has been more capable and responsive local governments. “We have been proud to see how the Government of Ghana has demonstrated leadership and initiative in taking additional steps to promote this work for the long term,” said USAID/Ghana Mission Director Andrew Karas.

District Assemblies participating in the USAID project have organized trainings to communities, teaching them the importance of  building latrines to their health. The latrines keep water clean, preventing diseases like diarrhea that lead to undernutrition.

“My children and I used to defecate outside because we did not have a toilet in our home,” said 31-year-old Ama Nuzaara, who lives in West Gonja District. After several latrines were built by community members, people started to connect the dots.

“I now understand the links between poor sanitation, diarrheal diseases and nutrition,” says Nuzaara. “I also make sure that my children wash their hands with soap and water after they use the toilet. I do this for my family’s health and well being.”

Karas said that this multi-sectoral collaboration is already paying dividends. “We have repaired dozens of boreholes [holes through which people can access uncontaminated water] and established community water and sanitation committees. We are training farmers to grow new, more nutritious vegetables and helping women access markets and boost their incomes.”

Each of the project’s integrated activities increases the resilience of vulnerable people to the inevitable shocks inherent to living in northern Ghana. “The multi-sectoral approach amplifies the effectiveness of [the project’s] activities,” says Yunus Abdulai, another project official.

By strengthening local capacity, the project is working to build sustainability across all sectors of development.

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Agency for International Development's blog. 

January 28, 2016
FintracEco Agri Consult promotes orange flesh sweet potatoes at kiosks such as this one at a farmers day in Arusha, Tanzania.

In Tanzania, Feed the Future is working with local partners and companies to increase access to, and provide training in, orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) materials to promote consumption and availability in local communities. Rich in vitamin A, these potatoes bring nutritious benefits to smallholder diets.

One effort with local company Eco Agri Consult has become a model of engagement between clean vine producers, farmer groups, NGOs, OFSP sellers, and consumers. The company produces clean tissue-cultured OFSP planting materials, provides trainings to smallholder farmers, and is conducting an OFSP marketing awareness campaign throughout communities.

With activities in six regions of Tanzania, Eco Agri Consult has been stimulating the demand for tissue-cultured planting materials across the country. OFSP vine multiplication sites have been set up in several communities, where, after four months, they are producing cuttings for dissemination to interested groups and organizations.

Schools are one of the targets for dissemination of vine cuttings. With support from Feed the Future, Eco Agri Consult is teaching students in primary and secondary school about the nutritional value of OFSP. The company shows the students at school how to grow vines in home gardens using simple technology such as net tunnels. The net tunnels protect the plants from insect damage and keep the planting material healthy so that cuttings can continue to be extracted for a long time. Once the vines mature, teachers hand out the vines to the students to take home for their parents to plant at home.

For Eco Agri Consult owner Wilfred Mushobozi, the effort has had wide-ranging impact.

“The schools have been a change agent in increasing awareness in homes. The net tunnels have been used to ensure the availability of clean planting materials for the community, and many more people have been reached through demonstration plots and community training.”

In some communities, there is confusion about the differences between OFSP and the more common white-fleshed sweet potato. With assistance from Feed the Future, Eco Agri Consult has boosted market demand through a campaign that clearly brands OFSP with a bold, bright logo on retail kiosks and umbrellas used by local market vendors. The promotion of OFSP is part of a focused effort to synchronize growing consumer interest with coordinated field production to meet market needs.

Thanks to Feed the Future, demand for OFSP has increased in recent years, and with this new market opportunity, farmers’ incomes have improved as well.

April 30, 2015
Fintrac Inc.Anna Danda displays crops from her garden while preparing a dish made from orange-fleshed sweet potato, an excellent source of vitamin A.
In Tanzania, a Feed the Future program is working to improve household health and nutrition through trainings on home garden production, education related to household nutrition, and HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and control.
 
Home gardens – often managed by the women of the household – are particularly effective in improving nutrition because they provide an easy, inexpensive means to produce vegetables rich in micronutrients and are conveniently located just outside families’ doors. Feed the Future’s local partner, Njombe Agriculture and Development Organization (NADO), has helped more than 4,000 vulnerable households establish home gardens through on-site technical assistance and training and improved access to high-quality agricultural inputs like seed and fertilizer. Farmers in Njombe are earning an average of $600 in extra income from the surplus vegetables in their home gardens. 
 
In addition to helping establish the gardens, Feed the Future and NADO trained more than 7,000 individuals in good agricultural practices and integrated pest management to improve productivity and increase household incomes from all farm activities. Trainees learned the dietary properties of garden crops, with an emphasis on their vitamin and mineral content and how it relates to maintaining proper nutrition. They also received basic training in HIV/AIDS transmission, prevention, and control.
 
Igwachanya Secondary School, located in Njombe, established a vegetable garden with support from the Feed the Future-NADO partnership. The garden is now a source of fresh and healthy produce for the students. 
 
“We had been lacking an alternative for the students who had problems with just beans in their meals, but the [introduction of] vegetables has eased this problem,” says Assistant Headmaster Lutatus Mlomo. 
 
As part of a broader effort across East Africa to promote orange-fleshed sweet potatoes to combat vitamin A deficiency, Feed the Future has also distributed more than 18,000 clean orange-fleshed sweet potato vines to smallholder farmers in Tanzania. The program is also holding cooking demonstrations to increase awareness of the health benefits of this crop variety, which is common in the United States but less familiar in African diets. In Njombe, the Feed the Future-NADO partnership has distributed more than 10,000 orange-fleshed sweet potato vines.
 
Smallholder farmer Peter Lupenzi is grateful for the assistance he received through the partnership, noting that his production costs have decreased now that he knows the correct amounts of fertilizer to apply and is using better-quality inputs. 
 
“Hybrid seeds, integrated pest management and advice from the technical team have made our group produce a lot of vegetables for family consumption. Due to proper management of the plot, we get a lot of harvests, which generate income for the members,” Lupenzi says. 
 
The Tanzania Agriculture Productivity Program (TAPP) is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of the Feed the Future initiative. USAID-TAPP implements activities directly and through local partner organizations such as NADO. 
April 30, 2015
H. TumuhimbiseBeta-carotene-packed orange sweet potatoes are helping more Ugandans get the nutrition they need.

Welsy Anena’s mother is convinced that orange sweet potato (OSP) saved her daughter’s life. Anena had been sickly since birth and at 18 months, she weighed just nine pounds. She had been in and out of hospitals so often that her mother braced herself for the worst. 

But when her mother started feeding her OSP, everything changed. Since increasing her consumption of this nutrient-dense food, Anena has grown into a vivacious 30-pound three-year-old.

In Uganda, Anena is one of the lucky ones. One out of every three Ugandan children under the age of five suffers from vitamin A deficiency. This condition is a leading cause of preventable blindness and increases the risk of disease and death from common childhood infections. Each year, almost 30,000 children in Uganda die due to causes related to vitamin A deficiency. 

Now, Uganda is turning to OSP to improve the health and nutrition of its population, particularly among children and their mothers. With its high concentration of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, OSP packs a powerful nutritional punch: a single ice cream scoop’s worth is enough to provide a child’s daily vitamin A needs. OSP has been hailed as the “Mother Teresa of foods” and one of the five most innovative ways to feed the planet.

Ugandans already grow and eat an abundance of sweet potatoes – in fact, Uganda produces more sweet potatoes than any other country in Africa. But whereas sweet potatoes at U.S. supermarkets typically have the same bright orange color as other beta-carotene-rich foods like carrots and apricots, white- and yellow-fleshed potato varieties are more commonly available in Uganda, so OSP is a new twist on an old favorite. The good news for smallholder farmers is that, in addition to offering much greater nutritional value, OSP yields more and matures earlier than the traditional white and yellow varieties.

Using such a widely consumed crop in a targeted way could turn out to be one of the sweetest public health investments in Uganda. Today, more than 100,000 Ugandan farm households across 22 districts are growing OSP and feeding it to their families. This has created a welcome challenge to Feed the Future partner HarvestPlus, which leads the delivery of this conventionally bred nutritious crop to Ugandan farmers.

“There’s much more demand for OSP than there is supply,” notes Anna-Marie Ball, who oversaw the crop’s introduction and expansion in Uganda under the HarvestPlus program. “The task now is to get some of the larger farmers growing it and bringing it to market.” 

With support from Feed the Future, HarvestPlus aims to reach more than 225,000 farming households with OSP by 2016. This will involve working with local labs and multipliers to ensure that healthy vines are delivered to farmers for planting, and encouraging farmers who receive free vines to “pay it forward” upon first harvest by sharing the improved vines with others in their communities. The project has also begun introducing another nutritious crop – high-iron beans – in northern, western and central Uganda to help provide a comprehensive and varied “food basket” approach to improved nutrition.

Importantly, the project can count on the commitment of the Government of Uganda. In February 2015, the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament officially launched a campaign to get OSP to more Ugandans. 

“Let me take this opportunity to officially launch the scaling of the orange sweet potato in Uganda and recommend it to farmers, agricultural extension advisors and the general public,” Speaker Rebecca Kadaga announced at the launch event. 

This momentum points to a future Uganda where more stories like Anena’s can be told. 

This story was contributed by Denis Okello at HarvestPlus, a leader in the global effort to end hidden hunger caused by the lack of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet.

November 25, 2014
Fintrac Inc. Janet Okumu Osundwa shows off some recently harvested orange-flesh sweet potatoes in Kenya.

We asked for your help spreading the word about global hunger this November by sending us your favorite sweet potato recipes and your response was incredible! We received unique recipes from across the United States and even a few from other countries around the world.

The votes are in and our panel of judges has picked six winners. If you’re looking for a last-minute dish for your Thanksgiving table this year, consider one of the winning sweet potato recipes below. Thanks to everyone who participated!

You can still help spread the word this Thanksgiving that global hunger is solvable and that the world is making progress in ending it. Share a sweet potato photo from your Thanksgiving along with a note on what you’re thankful for this year. Just add the hashtag #feedthefuture to your post to join the conversation.

Happy Thanksgiving!


And the winners are... 

Best Overall:

Most Creative:


First Place - Best Overall 

Sweet Potato Latkes (Virginia)

Submitted by: Eric Boyle

“Every year, I challenge myself to incorporate different cultural traditions into our family’s Thanksgiving meal. For example, one year I made South Asian food for Thanksgiving, which included sweet potato chutney as a side dish.

In 2013, Thanksgiving and Hanukah were on the same day, so we made a meal based on Jewish tradition. The dish I made that year was Sweet Potato Latkes. I took a recipe from epicurious.com and then altered parts to make it my own.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 green onion tops, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper (paprika)
  • Other spices to taste
  • 3/4 cup sunflower oil  (or any vegetable oil)
  • Sour cream or cranberry sauce (preferably cranberry chutney)

Directions:

  • Stir together potatoes, onions, flour, eggs, salt, pepper, and other spices.
  • Heat oil in a deep nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.
  • Working in batches of 4, spoon 1/8 cup potato mixture per latke into oil and flatten with a slotted spatula. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until golden, about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Transfer latkes with spatula to paper towels to drain.
  • Serve with a dollop of sour cream or cranberry chutney (or both!) to taste.

Second Place - Best Overall 

Sweet Home Sweet Potatoes (Indiana)

Submitted by: Andrea Mayfield-Witt

“My name is Andrea and I am a stay-at-home-mom who recently started a small blog called Vermilion Lane where I share my recipes, parenting ideas and crafts. I am so excited to share this recipe that I created especially for the Feed the Future sweet potato recipe contest. I have included a link to a video about why I made it and how to make the recipe with ease.

I grew up with the scent of sweet potatoes dancing around my mother's kitchen as well as my nana's kitchen and great-grandmother’s too. Making sweet potatoes, fall through winter, is a tradition I hold dear. Pies, soups, mashed, roasted, boiled and baked—you name it, we ate it that way. I consider it an honor to share that rich heritage with my children through hearty recipes like this one called Sweet Home Sweet Potatoes. I combined several recipes of generations of women in my family to make a new one. It is roasted sweet potatoes in yellow bell pepper cups topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, goat cheese, and raspberry balsamic jam drizzle. Yum!

I am inspired by the work Feed the Future does to bring sustenance to people all over the world. Your herculean efforts inspire and motivate me to spread the word that hunger exists for millions. But most importantly, share the knowledge that by working together in small ways, every day, this mountain of hunger we face is moveable. It is changeable; one child, one sweet potato at a time.”

Ingredients:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes (peeled and cut in ½ inch cubes)
  • 5 yellow bell peppers (tops and seeds removed)
  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 6 ounces (approx.) goat cheese
  • 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of a half lemon (approx.)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place sweet potato cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add extra virgin olive oil and mix with spoon or hands until well coated. Sprinkle salt and pepper over sweet potatoes and mix throughout.
  • Spread sweet potatoes on large non-stick baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
  • Stir halfway through roasting time.
  • Place yellow bell peppers in baking dish. Pour roasted sweet potatoes into large mixing bowl.
  • Turn oven down to 400 degrees.
  • Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop sweet potatoes into bell pepper cups. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. (Loosely cover with a sheet of aluminum foil if tops begin to over darken while roasting.)
  • During the last 10 minutes of roasting, begin to make balsamic jam drizzle.
  • Simmer raspberry jam, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice in small sauce pan over lowest heat setting for 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove sweet potato stuffed peppers from oven and immediately pour hot balsamic jam drizzle over top.
  • Sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds, parsley and goat cheese on top.
  • Enjoy!

Third Place - Best Overall 

Sweet Potato Bacon Casserole (Haiti)

Submitted by: Yves-Laurent Regis

“In the Caribbean, we know the sweet potato very well: this sweet, tuberous root with its rich sweet flavor and mildly starchy texture. Usually, in Haiti, it is boiled and served with other vegetables, green leaves including sweet potato leaves, yams and/or plantains. However, the sweet potato can also be eaten in savory as well as sweet dishes. The sweet potato is widely eaten by the whole population. The sweet potato is very versatile and can be cooked in various ways.

Sweet potato is a very nutritious food to consider in a diet diversification effort. Colleagues from the Nutrition Security Program are pleased to enter the contest and to share the following recipe. “

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound potatoes
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 ½ cups full cream
  • 10 oz. chopped bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Directions:

  • Peel and slice the potatoes into medium-sized slices.
  • Boil the sweet and regular potatoes in lightly salted water until half cooked. 
  • Lightly brown the bacon and onion in the hot oil. 
  • Preheat your oven. 
  • Dice the garlic. Butter a casserole dish, alternate slices of sweet potatoes and potatoes, garlic, bacon and onion mixture. The top should be a layer of potatoes.
  • In the same pan used for the bacon and onion, pour the cream and garlic cloves and heat for 2 minutes without letting it boil. 
  • Pour the hot cream in the casserole dish. 
  • Cover with aluminum foil and cook at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

First Place - Most Creative

Sweet Potato Milkshakes (Vermont)

Submitted by: Deirdre Holmes

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon or lime
  • Any spices you like, such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and/or mint (optional)

Directions:

  • Bake washed but unpeeled sweet potatoes in a 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven for approximately 45 minutes or until soft on the inside.
  • Allow to cool, and remove skin (this will slip right off).
  • In a blender or food processor, combine milk, ice cubes, lemon or lime juice, and maple syrup. Add any additional flavors you like (I put in a few pieces of crystalized ginger).
  • Puree mixture until smooth. Adjust for desired consistence by adding more milk or more ice cubes.
  • Pour into glasses. Garnish with a sprig of mint (optional), sit back and enjoy.

If you can resist drinking it all at once, pour the remaining milkshake mixture into popsicle molds and freeze. You’ll have a mighty fine “creamsicle” – made with only real food ingredients and all the nutritional goodness of the sweet potato “superfood.”


Second Place - Move Creative

Curried Sweet Potato Patties with Ginger (Virginia)

Submitted by: Monica Brinn

“When I was living in Charles Hill, Botswana, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I had to get creative with my food. I did not have the usual wealth of produce available, so I had to learn how to integrate the locally grown vegetables into my cooking. Sweet potato and butternut squash were in this repertoire.

This recipe is great because you can make and eat the patties right away or cook and freeze them individually, to be had later. They are equally tasty hot or cold. They can be made bite-sized as a canapé or full-sized. They can be eaten on their own, as a side dish, in a roll with mayonnaise or chutney, under a poached or fried egg. The possibilities are endless!

The measurements in this are all very rough and doubling or tripling the amounts can easily increase the quantity. Experimentation will find the right balance for you.”

Note: All curry powders are different, so the amount must be personalized to have the right level of spiciness for your taste! 

Ingredients:

  • 2 very large sweet potatoes or yams (or more smaller ones or one small or medium butternut squash)
  • 1 small or medium onion (or half of a large one), finely chopped
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger (approximately), grated or finely minced (no need to peel)
  • Pepper, finely chopped (if you wish this to be spicy)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (Masala may also be used)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg
  • Flat-bottomed pan/skillet (non-stick or cast iron are ideal, but not necessary)

Directions:

  • Peel the sweet potatoes and grate. Add a teaspoon of salt and toss them around.
  • Put the grated potatoes in a mesh sieve or a colander and set that over a bowl to allow the moisture to drip out. Otherwise, just leave them in a bowl.
  • Heat about a tablespoon of oil (you can use part butter here if you have it and want to) in the pan over low-medium heat.
  • Add the onion and a pinch of salt and toss the onions to coat.
  • Slowly cook the onions and allow them to brown but not burn. (Trick: As there are brown bits on the bottom of the pan, add a splash of water and they will come up coating the onions with that flavor! Note: This caramelizing process is not absolutely necessary, but will complement the sweetness of the sweet potatoes.)
  • Once the onions are cooked, add the garlic and ginger (and pepper). Cook 2-3 minutes.
  • Mix the curry (or Masala) in a small dish with an equal amount of water and stir to make a paste.
  • Add this paste to the onion mixture and cook until the water cooks off and you are left with a paste of onions, garlic, ginger and curry.
  • Remove from heat and transfer into a large mixing bowl. By now, the water should be draining from the potatoes. It is best to try to get them as dry as possible. Either wrap the grated potatoes in a clean towel and twist to wring out the water or take a handful at a time and squeeze out the water.
  • Place the ‘wrung out’ grated potatoes in the bowl with the curry and onion mixture. Thoroughly mix around to coat it all.
  • Add the flour and toss to coat.
  • Beat the egg(s) and add to the mixture. It is often best to use your hands to make sure that the eggs and flour have been distributed evenly. It shouldn’t be pasty, but you want to be able to make patties. (If it feels too dry or too wet, add a bit of flour or an additional egg to adjust.)
  • Using your hands, shape patties out of the mixture. Set the patties on a flat surface and make your way through the rest of the mixture.
  • Finally, add a dusting of flour on both sides of the patties to help bind them and to brown. Wash your hands, which will be a mess! Heat oil to cover the bottom of the same flat-bottomed pan, although it is best to clean it to avoid burning any residue. (Trick: You will know when the oil is hot enough to cook when a pinch of flour sizzles when you drop it in. Don’t let the oil start smoking or burn. If that happens, pull the pan off the heat for a moment to cool off.)
  • Cook the patties in the hot oil. Put them in the pan, a few at a time. Don’t crowd the pan. Let them cook on one side until they are nice and golden brown. This should take 3-5 minutes, but will depend on the pan and the heat. If they start to burn, turn down the heat. (Trick: Resist the temptation to smash the patties or turn them before they are ready. Let them cook and they will bind together better!)
  • Once the patties are golden on one side, gently turn them and cook until golden on that side. Remove from heat and put on a paper towel or cooling rack. Repeat until all are cooked. These are really nice with a dollop of mango chutney, achar and/or Greek yogurt on top. (Trick: Once they are cooled all the way, they can be wrapped individually and put in the freezer. The frozen patties will defrost for reheating in the pan within an hour or so. They can also be microwaved from frozen or heated in an oven.)

Third Place - Most Creative

Yam Jelli (Canada)

Submitted by: Lisa Kong

“I came to develop this "yam jelli" recipe to feed my four-year-old daughter healthy snacks. She was born with severe anaphylaxis. Even if she touched a cookie (that had traces of eggs, dairy, soy, nuts) and licked her fingers, she could go into an anaphylactic shock. She is not allergic to regular jellies (sugar) but the effects of refined sugar and processed foods were more obvious on her more than other healthy kids. So, I tried steamed, baked and fried sweet potatoes, which she doesn't hate but doesn't like either. However, she loves the chewy sweet potato jellies. The texture is just like jellies and is very sweet from concentrated natural sugars. The added perks are that they are portable and last for two weeks in an airtight bag.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato

Directions:

  • Steam sweet potatoes with peels on for 30 minutes or until a chopstick can run through.
  • Peel and cut into 1-centimeter slices.
  • Lay the slices flat and dry for 48 hours, or 10 hours at lowest temperature in a food dehydrator.
  • Enjoy!

Editor’s Note: Did you know sweet potato and yams are two different vegetables

October 30, 2014
USAID

In Mozambique, vitamin A deficiency is alarmingly prevalent: 69 percent of Mozambicans don’t get enough of this critical nutrient, which impacts everything from vision to the immune system.

One simple yet proven way Feed the Future is combating vitamin A deficiency is by promoting consumption of orange fleshed sweet potato. Sweet potatoes come in many colors, but the medium to deep orange-colored varieties are rich in beta-carotene, a building block of vitamin A: just half a cup of boiled or mashed orange sweet potatoes meet the daily intake needs for a child under five years of age. Sweet potatoes are also high-yielding even under adverse conditions, and they grow and can be harvested more quickly than most crops.

Orange fleshed sweet potatoes are an example of the power of biofortification, a process through which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through conventional plant breeding and/or biotechnology. Unlike conventional fortification, which adds nutrients during processing (as in the case of iodized salt, for example), biofortification involves breeding crop varieties specifically to increase their nutrient levels, so that the benefits can accrue even to rural populations where the infrastructure required for processing and conventional fortification may not exist or be readily available.

With support from the U.S. Agency for International Development under Feed the Future, the International Potato Center released 15 drought-tolerant orange fleshed sweet potato varieties in Mozambique in 2011, aligning closely with initiatives led by Mozambique’s Ministries of Agriculture and Health. To accelerate farmers’ access to the improved varieties, sweet potato vine multipliers (voucher-based distribution centers that supply vines and other inputs to vulnerable households) were opened all across Mozambique. Over the course of three years, more than 2,400 tons of disease-free planting material were produced and distributed, and more than 3,800 farmers – over half of them women – were trained on production and multiplication of orange sweet potatoes.

These efforts were paired with public health campaigns that taught families about the importance of vitamin A and how to prepare nutritious meals with orange sweet potatoes. At the end of the intervention, vitamin A intake in children in participating communities was eight times higher than in non-participating communities, and vitamin A deficiency had fallen by 15 percent.

Part of Feed the Future’s Platform for Agricultural Research and Technology Innovation in Mozambique, the orange fleshed sweet potato program demonstrates the potential impact of targeting one highly nutritious staple crop as part of a broader food security strategy.

Learn more about Feed the Future's work with orange fleshed sweet potatoes. Have a favorite sweet potato recipe? Share it with Feed the Future!

November 5, 2014
Fintrac Inc.

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the holiday we all know and love without sweet potatoes. From casseroles to fries, we’re big fans. But did you know sweet potatoes are nutritious as well? So much so that the United States is helping poor people in other countries grow these vitamin A-rich vegetables, both to raise incomes and strengthen nutrition.

The U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative leads this work and many other projects like it, all with the aim of reducing global hunger, poverty and poor nutrition. The sweet potato is a great example of an innovation Feed the Future has worked with U.S. universities and the international research community to develop and share with people who can benefit most from growing and eating it.

To help raise awareness this holiday season about global hunger (and how solvable of a problem it is), we’re launching a recipe contest starring the mighty sweet potato. Send us your favorite recipe!

The contest is now closed. View the winning recipes here! 

Here’s how: First, read the submission requirements and contest rules below. Then, send your sweet potato-themed recipe (and any related media such as photos) to ftfrecipe@gmail.com.

All submissions are due via email by Tuesday, November 18, 2014, at 5:00 p.m. EST. From there, we’ll have our interagency panel of judges take a look and vote on their favorites. We’ll notify the winner(s) via email the following week and feature the winning recipe(s) in our Thanksgiving e-card, on social media, and on our blog. 

Submissions Requirements

  • Recipe must be an original submission by the individual or organization sending in the recipe and you must not infringe on anyone else’s copyright (e.g. no copying from Pinterest unless it’s yours).
  • Recipe must be submitted in English and should be no longer than 1,000 words.
  • Recipe must include a full list of ingredients and measurements (in U.S. units) as well as specific cooking instructions.
  • Recipes should not include brand names. Please list all ingredients using generic names only.
  • Please include your name and home state in your submission. This will help our panel of judges select a winning recipe from each region in the United States, if applicable.
  • Submissions with high-quality and high-resolution photos and/or videos are highly recommended!

When you submit your recipe, let us know why it is important to you: Is there a story behind the recipe? Is it a family favorite? We’ll review your submission and share a roundup of the recipes we receive on the Feed the Future website and social media accounts. So win or lose, your recipe may be featured.

Please make sure you read all the contest rules below before submitting a recipe.

Contest Rules 

  • Only one submission per individual is allowed. If there is a dispute about who submitted a recipe, we will consider the registered email or social media account holder as the submitter.
  • We may reject, disqualify or disallow any submission we deem inappropriate, in violation of contest rules, or for any other reason in our sole and absolute discretion. We may, in our sole discretion, edit, adapt or modify your submission.
  • Submission of a recipe and related media (photos, videos, etc.) constitutes your certification that it is your own original work and does not infringe the intellectual property or proprietary rights of any third party.
  • You agree that USAID and/or other individual U.S. Government Feed the Future partners who use the recipe and related media will not be responsible for the infringement of any third party rights that may arise as a result of your actions or omissions.
  • Your submission represents irrevocable consent that USAID and/or other individual U.S. Government Feed the Future partners may reproduce, publish and otherwise use your recipe and/or related media in materials (including digital and print media) related to Feed the Future.
  • You agree to incur in full any costs associated with participation in this contest and to indemnify and hold harmless USAID from any claims, damages, liabilities, expenses or losses which arise from participation in this contest.
  • You must be 18 or older to participate in this contest. To protect children’s privacy, please do not include any personally identifiable information about your child, such as names and addresses, in your submission. Do not include your child or other people in related material, such as photos.

By submitting a recipe and related material to this contest, you certify that you have read, agreed to, and are following all the submission requirements and contest rules listed above.

Want to contribute but don’t have a recipe that meets the contest criteria above? Share it with us on Twitter or Facebook to join the conversation on sweet potatoes and ending hunger!

Find out how Feed the Future is helping end global hunger.

    

Learn More About Sweet Potatoes and Nutrition

Infographic of Sweet Potato Facts

October 16, 2014
Meredith McCormack, USAIDFirst Lady Michelle Obama harvests sweet potatoes with students at the annual fall harvest of the White House Kitchen Garden in October 2014.

The unassuming sweet potato graces our plates in the United States each Thanksgiving. But across the developing world, it’s packing a powerful punch every day against poor nutrition.

Just this week, First Lady Michelle Obama harvested sweet potatoes from the White House Kitchen Garden during the annual fall harvest.

These sweet potatoes are special for many reasons. For one, they’re full of important nutrients—their high vitamin-A content gives them their signature orange color. They’re also a product of Feed the Future’s work with U.S. universities and the international research community to research and develop varieties of foods – like the orange-fleshed sweet potato – that address both undernutrition and poverty.

We’re helping researchers get innovations like these from the lab to field, where they can really make a difference, particularly in the lives of smallholder farmers who we’re celebrating today on World Food Day.

In the United States, most of our varieties of sweet potatoes are orange-fleshed and most Americans are aware of their nutritional benefits. However, in Africa and many parts of Asia, the dominant varieties are white, containing no vitamin A whatsoever.

Yet when sweet potatoes are grown in these regions, it’s often by poor smallholder farmers, providing a win-win when it comes to fighting malnutrition and poverty.

That’s why Feed the Future and its partners are helping families across the globe – and especially in Africa – grow and incorporate orange-fleshed sweet potatoes into their diets. In fact, millions of people across Africa now enjoy this type of sweet potato, and its nutritional benefits, alongside traditional varieties as a result of our work.

Read on to learn why we love sweet potatoes and why, if you care about ending hunger and poverty, you should too!

Michelle Obama harvests from the White House garden alongside three students.

1. Sweet potatoes deliver life-saving nutrition. While the sweet potato comes in many colors, the orange ones are the most packed with vitamin A. This is particularly important in Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 43 million children are vitamin-A deficient. Orange-fleshed sweet potato could help them avoid blindness, disease and even death!

2. The sweet potato has been saving lives for years. It has kept millions from starvation in China and Uganda when various crises meant other crops were unavailable to eat. Farmers in Japan and the Philippines have grown sweet potato after typhoons to help aid in food security and recovery. 

3. Sweet potatoes can even help fight poverty. Ninety-five percent of sweet potatoes are grown in developing countries, often by small-scale farmers and in home gardens. The extras that families don’t eat, they can sell to boost their income. And since many of the orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties are ready to harvest before traditional white varieties, they’re first to market and first to fetch a good price. Women often use the money from selling sweet potatoes to pay for school fees, buy medicines, and purchase other foods for their families.

4. Sweet potatoes are full of the A, B, C’s – and E’s! They’re a valuable source of all these vitamins and even contain some iron and zinc. Just one ice-cream scoop’s worth of orange-fleshed sweet potato (150 grams) meets a child’s full daily need for vitamin A.

A young girl holds up harvested sweet potatoes.

5. Sweet potatoes aren’t just for humans – they make great food for animals too. Farmers feeding sweet potato vines to their chickens report that they produce more and better quality eggs. And studies show dairy cows fed with high-protein sweet potato vines produce less methane gas than when fed other feed, potentially helping reduce harmful global emissions. Sweet potatoes also require less water to grow than most grains. So basically, sweet potatoes are climate-smart too!

6. Sweet potatoes are versatile. From Latin America to Africa and Asia to the White House garden, as long as the climate is hot and moist, sweet potatoes will thrive. They can grow anywhere from sea level up to 2,500 meters (higher than the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado). They can also be incorporated into many recipes. In Africa, you can find bread, juices and other snacks made from sweet potatoes. You can even substitute sweet potatoes for a portion of wheat flour when baking to increase nutritional content. Need a recipe?

7. Sweet potatoes are true to their name: They’re sweet, particularly the orange-fleshed varieties. In Africa, children especially love the sweet taste and enjoy snacking on sweet potato and sweet potato products. This helps them get the vitamin A they need to grow up strong and healthy.

8. Sweet potatoes sweeten fields too! Because they come from a different genus than many other crops, farmers may plant them in between planting other crops to prevent pest build up. George Washington Carver developed this technique, called crop rotation. He was a big fan of sweet potatoes too, creating new uses for them such as flour and vinegar.

9. Sweet potatoes support moms. In Sub-Saharan Africa, we’ve distributed orange-fleshed sweet potatoes to farming communities, particularly to women farmers. Women and children suffer the most from vitamin-A deficiency, so they stand to gain the most from growing them. When we distribute these sweet potatoes to women alongside providing them nutrition education, we can help them improve their vitamin-A status.

A wheelbarrow full of harvested sweet potatoes sits in the White House garden.

10. Sweet potatoes are a stellar example of partnerships and innovation in action. Back in the early 1990s, the U.S. Agency for International Development (part of Feed the Future) helped launch a project to breed crops that were not just high yielding, but more nutritious too—a novel concept at the time. Today, we have orange-fleshed sweet potatoes as well as orange maize. The two varieties of sweet potato grown in the White House garden this season exemplify Feed the Future’s partnerships with U.S. universities too: They hail from Louisiana State University and North Carolina State University.

We could go on, but we think you get the idea: There’s a lot to love about sweet potatoes. They’re great for moms and children and they’re bad news for poverty, hunger and poor nutrition. Feed the Future and its partners, such as HarvestPlus and the International Potato Center, are helping even more farmers, mothers and children grow and eat them.

From humble origins to the rows of the White House garden, the orange-fleshed sweet potato is just one of the many tools we have to end hunger and poverty while improving nutrition and helping children around the world thrive.

Learn more and join us at http://feedthefuture.gov. Visit our partners at http://harvestplus.org and http://cipotato.org/ too.

Have a favorite sweet potato fact or recipe? Let us know why you’re sweet on sweet potatoes by tweeting to us @FeedtheFuture with the hashtag #feedthefuture or sending us a note on Facebook

March 19, 2014

Standing at the gates to the Nigerian cassava processing plant, Thai Farms, we held our breath while watching a local farmer anxiously weigh a sack of his latest cassava crop. Cassava, a starchy local staple crop, takes 12 to 24 months to grow, but begins to rot after only 48 hours out of the ground. So for this local farmer, transporting and being able to quickly sell his crop is essential to getting a good price.

To determine purchase prices, cassava is weighed and then tested for starch content through a simple, yet ingenious method of submersing the cassava tubers in water to test buoyancy. The higher the starch content, the more cassava flour is produced and the more money the farmer earns per kilo. The farmer breathed a sigh of relief when the starch content turned out to be high enough for the factory to buy his produce, but not high enough to fetch the best price.  The farmer left relieved, but somewhat disappointed and hopefully inspired to plant improved varieties next season.

In Nigeria, more than 70 percent of the population earns their livelihood from agriculture and 70 percent of the MARKETS II farmers live on less than $1.25 each day. By giving these farmers the tools to improve their harvest and connecting them with buyers, USAID is helping the farmers earn a higher selling price that is essential to increasing their household income and lifting their families out of extreme poverty.

Thai Farms exemplifies the MARKETS II model of connecting local farmers to new markets and technologies. However, there are several other local agri-business enterprises boosting the economy in Nigeria. Timmod Farms, for example, is a Nigerian success story. The farm was established in November 2004 with just four ponds of fish and is now one of the leading fish processors in Nigeria. Timmod Farms produces a smoked catfish that is well-known in the local Nigerian market and has been recognized by the Federal Department of Fisheries in Nigeria. The extremely entrepreneurial owner, Rotimi Omodehin, keeps adding new parts to the business, but is also concerned about the potential for further growth. Every step on the value chain suffers from some fundamental constraints, especially reliable access to energy and credit. These producers pay three to five times the price of energy from the grid to power their enterprises with expensive diesel generators. This is necessary as the power supply from the utility is unreliable and surges can damage expensive equipment. Credit, meanwhile, is hard to get at all and often costs 20 to 25 percent annual interest making loans hard to get, very expensive and very risky. To really enable small famers and small enterprises to drive inclusive economic growth, these problems will have to be addressed.

USAID has the opportunity to pull farmers out of poverty by sharing best practices in agriculture activities and focusing on value chains as a whole. Let us know what programs have been most successful for you or share your local stories of success.

This post originally appeared on the USAID blog. 

August 27, 2013
Zack Taylor/USAIDSmall business owners working to transform raw products into commercial goods display their wares with Bineta Guisse of USAID (right).

In Senegal, Feed the Future is connecting national agricultural research institutions with U.S. universities in order to better meet demand for the applied research businesses need to transform raw agricultural products into commodities that can be sold on the market.

That process of transformation, known as agro-processing, is a key business activity and a major driver for economic development in Senegal. That’s why a Feed the Future program managed by USAID is facilitating collaboration between Senegal’s Food Technology Institute (or ITA, a government research center for applied food science), and Tuskegee University in Alabama to disseminate technologies on using sweet potatoes in commercial food products. Tuskegee is part of a coalition of five U.S. universities led by Virginia Tech that is working to strengthen Senegal’s agricultural education sector.

At a recent technology transfer training and workshop at Tuskegee University, ITA researchers learned advanced techniques for using sweet potatoes, which are widely available in Senegal, as a sweetener for beverages made with native Senegalese fruits. ITA researchers also learned that they can cut baking costs in half by using up to 50 percent local sweet potato flour in place of wheat flour in bread production.

"This is an extraordinary discovery because ITA previously has not been able to incorporate sweet potato flour beyond a rate of 15 percent,” says Fallou Sarr, head of the Cereals and Legumes Laboratory at ITA. “This method will not only spur increased sweet potato production, but also significantly lower costs incurred by importing wheat.” Senegal currently imports 90 percent of its wheat flour supply from abroad.

The workshop at Tuskegee University is just one example of how new agricultural and food science technologies can equip researchers in developing countries to help boost local and national economies. Agro-processing companies of all sizes can benefit from the results of applied research activities with sound economic potential, and many small business organizations in Senegal, including a variety of women’s cooperatives, are seeking more opportunities to be trained in food processing, packaging, and quality assurance.

In order to extend the benefits of new research to rural communities in Senegal, this Feed the Future program is also working with the University of Ziguinchor in Senegal’s restive Casamance region to train women’s groups on processing technology for fruits, vegetables and grains, as well as business organization and financial management. Casamance is an isolated but highly fertile part of the country where using local crops like sweet potatoes to create value-added food products represents a key opportunity for small enterprises to emerge from decades of civil unrest and economic hardship. Feed the Future aims to help these businesses export “transformed” products to external markets in order to buoy Casamance’s stagnant economy

Under Feed the Future, USAID also supports ITA’s outreach to agribusiness, farmers and small entrepreneurs across the country by providing equipment grants to upgrade ITA’s research laboratories, computing, and other technical capabilities. The program has also helped train technical staff in Senegal as well as other parts of Africa and the United States, leading to increased competence on techniques for conservation, processing, and optimizing nutrition in local cereals. 

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