Sweetpotato is a nutritious and resilient crop. Orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) contains high levels of pro-vitamin A — just 125g of boiled OFSP can provide the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A for children. The seventh most important food crops globally, sweetpotato has a wide range of traits that breeders are using to develop climate-resilient varieties. Much research still needs to be done to exploit its full potential, including developing sustainable seed and production systems, and diversifying its use as an ingredient in processed products. When promising technologies are developed, however, they must be delivered to those who stand to benefit from them most. Being able to communicate new technologies or research findings effectively is just as important as undertaking the research itself.
This is the 5th year of awarding the Excellence in Sweetpotato Prizes by the International Potato Center, enabled by an endowment established by Dr. Jan W. Low with funds from her award for 2016 World Food Prize. The first $500 prize is for the best Sweetpotato Scientific paper published in 2020. The second $500 prize is the Communication for Change Award for an effective communication product launched in 2020.
This year’s winner of the Scientific paper prize is Dr. Bramwel Wanjala, a virologist working for the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization, and two of his co-authors (Elija Ateka, Douglas Miano) for the paper Storage Root Yield of Sweetpotato as Influenced by Sweetpotato leaf curl virus and Its Interaction With Sweetpotato feathery mottle virus and Sweetpotato chlorotic stunt virus in Kenya. Sweetpotato leaf curl virus is a Begomovirus, which Wanjala found is widespread in Kenya but no research had been done prior to the work presented in this paper about its effect on sweetpotato root yield, either alone or in interaction with other common viruses. This webinar will provide an opportunity to learn about the findings from this interesting study as well as other pertinent facts about Begomoviruses.
The 2020 Communication for Change award went to Luka Wanjohi, Senior Regional Knowledge Management Associate for CIP in sub-Saharan Africa and the team (Faith Njunge, Jolien Swanckaert, Edward Carey, Bramwel Wanjala (again!), and Benjamin Kivuva) who worked on developing the Sweetpotato Digital Catalogue. The Sweetpotato Digital Catalogue presents a collection of the best performing sweetpotato varieties or “best bets” in Africa. It contains standardized information of 80 varieties in use in 15 Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries.
The catalogue can be found at www.sweetpotatoknowledge.org on the web. Moreover, ordering germplasm from the regional center is now also possible digitally. Luka will discuss what this two-year dedicated effort to develop the catalogue entailed and present its key features.
So join us to celebrate these dedicated sweetpotato practitioners in their pursuit of excellence!