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Presentation: Sand storage, an innovation to extend the shelf-life of fresh sweetpotato for home consumption and market sales – findings from Ghana and Malawi

A uni-modal rainfall pattern causes a fairly short harvest season, where the sweetpotato is abundant and cheap in the markets, followed by a long dry season during which the sweetpotato becomes scarce and expensive.  Generally, the crop is consumed, processed, or sold shortly after harvest because of lack of reliable storage techniques. In Malawi, ambient temperatures during the dry season are relatively cool while in northern Ghana, the temperatures are far warmer, but the start of the dry season is characterized by cooler night temperatures low relative humidity which occurs during the harmattan season. Since sweetpotato is an important crop in parts of northern Ghana and in Malawi, simple methods to extend the shelf-life of this crop for both home consumption and sale would be valuable.

In both Malawi and Ghana, trials were designed and implemented at the community level using farmer participatory methods. In Malawi, experiments were conducted at 3 sites with three replications each of 3 types of storage and two types of varieties, introduced orange-fleshed sweetpotato and local varieties. Storage treatments were ventilated pit storage system introduced from Afghanistan where it was used for potato, storage in dry sand in a pit dug with steps to allow access to deeper levels, and storage in dry sand in granaries In Ghana, research was done at five communities comparing 3 varieties and two storage methods: a local method using heap covered with straw and kept moist, and storage in dry sand in a “box” structure constructed of mud/adobe. Weight loss of sweetpotato in stores was monitored periodically to compare storage treatments over six and a half months in Malawi and four months in Ghana.

In Malawi, at 1.5 months there were not striking differences among treatments, but by 3.5 months the pit method was starting to emerge as consistently superior, a trend that continued through 6.5 months. Losses in granaries were largely due to shriveling, while in the sand pit were due to termites, and rats (if sand cover was not thick). Losses in ventilated pits were due to termites, rats and Java black rot. Sprouting was consistently high in the sand pit, but sprouts were simply removed at assessments, and roots returned to storage. Women favored the sand pit as it was easy for them to manage both for home-consumption and sales. In Ghana, sand box storage similarly proved superior to moistened heap storage over a 16-week storage period. In Malawi, the sand pit method was preferred by farmers for both home consumption and commercial storage, while in Ghana, farmers said they would adopt the sand box method for home consumption.


Authors: Putri Ernawati Abidin, Asare Kwabena, Justus Lotade-Manje, Brian Kiger, Joseph Nchor, Kwabena Acheremu, Jude Njoku, Eric Dery, SOME Koussao, , Issah Abukari, Ted Carey, Putri Ernawati Abidin, Asare Kwabena, Justus Lotade-Manje, Brian Kiger, Joseph Nchor, Kwabena Acheremu, Jude Njoku, Eric Dery, SOME Koussao, , Issah Abukari, Ted Carey

Contributors: Administrator, Administrator

Subjects: Value Chain Addition

Pages: 27

Publisher: International Potato Center

Publication Date: October 1, 2015


Abidin, E., Asare, K., Dery, E., Lotade,J., Some, K., Koara, I., Kiger, B., Nchor, J., Abukari, I., Acheremu, K., Njoku, J. and Carey, T. 2015. Jumpstarting orange-fleshed sweetpotato in West Africa through diversified markets – the engine is up and running. International Potato center (CIP).