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ARMTI Nigeria Sweetpotato ToT Course Announcement Brochure

This ARMTI Nigeria course announcement brochure is on the 10-day intensive training on ARMTI Campus between 11 and 22 September, 2017. The course aims at increasing investment in the orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) to combat vitamin A deficiency among children and women of reproductive age. ARMTI also seeks to build the capacity of public sector Extension and Non-Governmental Organizational personnel to effectively implement initiatives aimed at promoting the dissemination and appropriate use of Vitamin A-rich OFSP in the sweetpotato value chain.

Module 6: Dietary Diversity Score

Poor households, women of reproductive age, and young children living in resource-poor settings are at high risk of inadequate micronutrient intakes when diets lack diversity. Diets of the poor are dominated by staple foods, which often supply 60-70% of their calories, but fail to provide adequate quantities of micronutrients essential for health. Comparative information on diet quality is scarce, and quantitative data on nutrient intakes are expensive and difficult to gather. At the household level, it is a measure of access to food (Hoddinott and Yohannes, 2002). At the individual level, it has been validated as a proxy for assessing the adequacy of micronutrient intakes of women and children. A number of studies have been conducted to explore how simplified diet diversity indices using major food groups correlate with more detailed consumption data, so that cut of points for determining the likelihood of achieving micronutrient adequacy can be established using easy to collect, diet diversity scores. (Arimond, 2010; Arimond et al., 2011; WHO, 2008).

Module 3: Yield Estimation Using Crop Cuts

Many programs or projects have as one of their key goals to improve agricultural productivity. To do so, it is critical to be able to monitor yields of the crops(s) of interest. Estimation of crop yields in farmer fields has been a major topic of discussion. While knowing the productivity of new or improved crop varieties in farmer fields is important in understanding whether these varieties are more profitable than the local counterparts, it is often very difficult to obtain accurate estimates of crop yields. Scientists have tried several methods of yield estimation. Of these, the two most used methods are crop cuts and farmer recall. Farmer recalls are by far the most frequently used among social scientists who depend on survey data to estimate farmer yields. The method involves asking farmers during a farmer survey to estimate the production and area under the crop in a specified season or year. Yield is then estimated using the ratio of production to area. As the name suggests, the data are usually collected after harvest, leading critics to argue that farmers are often unable to accurately remember production and areas, especially after considerable time has elapsed between harvest and the survey. Consequently some scientists get around this problem by collecting yield data while crop is still in the field, a method known as farmer prediction (Fermont and Benson, 2011). However, studies have shown that both of these approaches can be quite inaccurate.

Consequently, many scientists prefer to use the crop cut method to estimate yield. This method dates back to 1940s and was first used in India but later popularized by FAO (FAO, 1982; Murphy et al., 1991). It involves demarcation of a subplot within the field/plot followed by measurement of production and area under the crop. In some cases, measurement is done on more than one subplot and an average taken. Crop yield is then calculated as total production divided by total harvested area in the crop cut subplot(s). This section offers guidelines on the planning and implementation of a crop-cut aimed at estimating yields in farmers’ sweetpotato plots.

The other major approach being used is to obtain yield data from on-farm trials or demonstration plots, where improved clones or varieties are often being compared to dominant local varieties. Typically, these trials or demonstration plots have protocols for how to establish and monitor them, so they should be considered researcher-farmer managed yields to some extent. Detailed on-farm protocols are available for use in obtaining data that can be analyzed by breeders using the Excel-based CloneSelector program.

Farmers experiences in promoting sweetpotato production and productivity in Uganda: A case of Soroti Sweetpotato Producers and Processors Association (SOSPPA)

Soroti Sweetpotato Producers and Processors Association (SOSPPA) is community farmer-based initiative. Registered in 2006 as with the objective of integrating farmer training and commercial production vines and roots, and processing. It evolved from Abuket farmer facilitator association which was formed in 2004 by the sweetpotato farmer field school graduates with objective of promoting farmer to farmer training. SOSPPA is composed of members from 13 graduate Sweetpotato ICM FFS with adaptors. Elected executive committee serves a period of 3 years during the general assembly of representative members from the different FFS. Working committees include: training and publicity, production, processing/value addition, savings and credit, and marketing.

Module 7: Frequency of Consumption of Vitamin A Rich Foods

Micronutrient malnutrition, the lack of vitamin A in particular, is one of the major public health problems in less developed countries. It can lead to blindness and death in children under five years of age. Globally, an estimated 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient, of which about 250,000 children become blind every year. As a consequence, half of them die within 12 months of losing their sight. About 25% of mortality rates among young children can be reduced by correcting vitamin A deficiency at the community level (Beaton et al., 1993).

There is increasing demand from researchers, donors, and governments to assess the risk vitamin A deficiency at individual, household, and community level; which is mainly driven by the importance of understanding the existing vitamin A deficiency (VAD) level an as well as plan implementation programs to reduce it. The conventional methods used to assess vitamin A deficiency include xerophthalmia (eye damage) prevalence, dietary assessment, and biochemical analyses of serum retinol or retinol binding protein. However, these techniques require specialized skills and resources. Vitamin A intakes are best assessed through consumption studies where either all foods consumed are weighed before eating, or using recall methods of foods consumed, usually during the past 24 hours. Clearly, assessing both VAD status and vitamin A intakes is expensive and often beyond the scope of nutrition interventions that are trying to go-to-scale. Helen Keller International invested in developing a semi-quantitative, food frequency method that looked at the frequency of intake of vitamin A rich foods and validated these results against serum retinol values (Rosen et al., 1993). This method is used to assess whether a given population is at risk of VAD. It can also help monitor which vitamin A foods, such as OFSP, are coming into the diet by season and over time.

Subsequently, the 24-VASQ method was developed for estimating vitamin A intake of populations in a simpler way than 24 hour recall of all foods consumed (dee Pee et al., 2006). It can be used in large surveys and surveillance systems to quantify vitamin A intake of specific population groups, monitor changes in intake through time, compare intake among populations, identify the contribution of four different food groups – vegetables, fruits, animal foods and fortified foods – to vitamin A intake and identify populations at risk of vitamin A deficiency. However, it is also too time consuming to serve as a quick, low cost monitoring tool.

Advocacy Retreat Report Nigeria

The Retreat was held at Dunoma Plaza Hotel, Lafia Nasarawa State from 3rd – 5th October, 2012. The retreat was declared opened by the Nasarawa State Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources – Alh. Yahaya O. Ibrahim. Present also were the Country Director of Helen Keller International, Abuja, the Promotion Expert and other RAC advocates from the three (3) states and participants from Kaduna State where farm trials were on-going , Media representatives, and Senior Staff of the Host state who were there to witness and participate in the Retreat.

The retreat witnessed presentations by the Key resource persons: – Mrs. Mary Umoh on the RAC project, “Advocacy Strategy” and “the Roles and Responsibilities of Advocates”, “Planning, Reporting and Feedback” as well as the “Small Grants Scheme (SGS)” “Nutrition/Vitamin A” and the “Use/Role of Media in Advocacy” was presented by Hadizat Ibrahim – a Nutritionist/Broadcaster, while a presentation on “Sweet Potato Value Addition” was done by Mr. Idowu O. A. of the Federal Polytechnic Offa. Dr. Jude C. Njoku presented a paper on “Agriculture/OFSP”. The retreat also witnessed general discussions by participants mainly, on the presentations by the resource persons. An average of 24 persons participated in the retreat.

Final Report of the VITAA Platform Meeting Held in Nairobi- January 2013

One of the key debates within the stakeholders in this workshop was the scope and focus of a new platform. Like RAC, the previous VITAA platform grew from the activities that had started up around breeding staple crops of choice to increase micronutrient levels that could increase blood serum micronutrient levels when cooked, processed and eaten. Orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) has been the flagship of this food based ‘ biofortification’ approach.

The RAC ‘ project’ has evolved from OFSP projects (SPHI, SASHA) – inititaed by CIP (The International Potato Centre). RAC is being implemented in partnership with Helen Keller International. One of its core objectives is to create awareness and raise resources to increase sustainable investment across the whole value chain on embedding OFSP as a key nutritious staple crop in Africa.

The Vitamin A for Africa Platform focused on OFSP and as such, even though the name was generic, it inherently distinguished itself from capsule supplementation and fortified processed food programmes to combat Vitamin A deficiency. Harvest Plus is also working on bio-fortified (with Vitamin A) maize and cassava as well as other micronutrients in other crops.

So while in practical reality RAC evolved from the specificity and evidence base of OFSP as a specific successful example of bio- fortification, regional and national level stakeholders at this workshop strongly expressed the opinion that the platform needed to be advocating on a broader base. This could be from including other Vitamin A fortified crops such as Maize and Cassava, to a generic bio-fortified crops (covering other micronutrients) as a food based approach (with OFSP as the lead example) where the danger is the focus becoming too broad to actually achieve impact within the current resources and time frames.