The SPHI Marketing, Processing and Utilization Community of Practice (MPU CoP) held its 5th Annual Meeting on 23-24 April 2018 at the Lotus Hotel in Blantyre, Malawi. The theme of the meeting was Orange-fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) Value Chains for Sustainable Food Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The meeting was attended by 75 participants from 10 countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and the United States). The agenda was set by the MPU CoP leaders: Tawanda Muzhingi, Jean Pankuku, and Madjaliwa Nzamwita.
The keynote address was given by Dr. Wilkson Makumba who is the Director in the Department of Agricultural Research Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development in Malawi. His remarks highlighted the state of food security and nutrition in Malawi. In his remarks, he noted, “Investing in sweetpotato’s image and especially in orange-fleshed sweetpotato as a healthy food for all—young and old, rural and urban, and rich and poor consumers are all bound to benefit economically and socially”.
There was a panel discussion with private sector players (Euro Ingredients, Universal Industries, Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), Tehilah Bakery and Value Addition Centre, and local farmers) who shared their experiences on the challenges and opportunities of OFSP processing in Africa. Presentations from the meeting will be available on www.sweetpotatoknowledge.org
Another highlight of the meeting was the presentations of 17 posters covering four thematic areas:
- Food Science and Processing Activities,
- Breeding, Seed Systems and Post-Harvest Management as it relates to value chains,
- Community Nutrition, Advocacy and Nutrition Sensitive Behavior Change Communication (BCC),
- Food Systems, Gender and Youth
Four winners took home cash prizes for best posters.
Field Trip to Tehilah Bakery and Value Addition Centre
Participants visited the Tehilah Bakery and Value Addition Centre at Matindi in Blantyre. The bakery is pioneering the production and commercialization of Orange-fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) bread and buns branded Thanzi using OFSP Puree. Currently, the puree is bought from Universal Industries.
Universal Industries has become a major sweetpotato buyer, including purchasing sweetpotato that otherwise may be left unsold, to produce OFSP soft cookies and crisps. Its business innovations are resulting in reduced sweetpotato postharvest losses, new market opportunities for smallholder farmers, and nutritional food products for rural and urban consumers.
There were also presentations from a group of women in care groups and they showcased how they carry out behavior change activities in the community. They volunteer to train other women on issues such as personal and household hygiene, prenatal care, and nutrition of their children and their families. The group of women also showcased some of the food products they prepare using OFSP.
During the field visit, participants had a chance to see the processing facility (bakery) and visit the displays and sample the OFSP products made by the bakery.