Vitamin A deficiency is a huge problem in Africa. It accounts for over 600,000 deaths in children under the age of 5 per year. Uganda is an especially problematic region, which is why it was recently chosen as the location for a HarvestPlus study on the cross-pollination of Africa's white and yellow potatoes to create a vitamin A super-charged orange sweet potato.
Harvest Plus is fully funded by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research. From 2007-2009 Harvest Plus began planting and distributing the vitamin A rich sweet potatoes to over 10,000 local Ugandan farming families, 60% of whom chose to grow the crop.
The results from the newfound availability of the orange sweet potato have been astounding. Not only did the vitamin A rich potato grow at a more successful rate during drought conditions, but it has also increased vitamin A intake in the area's women and children who previously suffered from the deficiency.
It never ceases to amaze our Yumologists when scientific experimentation with food lends itself to a natural and readily sustainable cure to world health problems. The case of the African orange sweet potato is the most recent example of how one's crop, kitchen and pharmacy can often work in perfect harmony.