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Summary of progress on orange-fleshed sweetpotato research and development in Ethiopia

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) remains an important public health problem in developing countries like Ethiopia. Orange fleshed sweetpotato varieties have high contents of β-carotenoid and potentially can reduce the effects of vitamin A deficiency. To this effect, vitamin A for Africa (VITAA) was initiated. A planning work shop on “Combating VAD using OFSP” was held from which a production and promotion of OFSP against VAD” was developed. Other OFSP clones were undergoing preliminary yield trials. Out of these clones, clones like TIS- 8250 (34.07t/ha) and Zapallo (33.35t/ha) were superior to the local check koka-12 (25.42t/ ha). Activities to popularise OFSP varieties have also been undertaken through bazaar, workshop, public media and other extension means and have resulted in high demand for more OFSP cuttings.


Ethiopia has 70 million people and is third most populous country in Africa. Sweetpotato is one of the most important crop for at least 20 million Ethiopians. The total area under sweetpotato in Ethiopia is 75000ha with an average productivity 8t/ha. White fleshed sweet potato is a staple food for 13 million people in the Southern Regional State. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) remains an important public health problem in Ethiopia just as in other developing countries. World Health Organization (WHO, 1982) classified Ethiopia as a nation where VAD was a public health and which could become worse due to recurring drought and hunger. International agencies active in micronutrient deficiencies have advocated three different strategies to eliminate the VAD problems. These include dietary diversification, dietary supplementation and food fortification. The long term approach is the safest and most sustainable way of combating the problem in rural areas of developing countries where chronic deficiencies are common. This approach emphasises the consumption of vitamin A (VA) sufficient quantities of betacarotene and VA rich food stuffs. Even in years when food is plenty, the traditional food habit, of depending on cereals coupled with poverty does not allow the poor majority to get Vitamin-A rich foods. Moreover the limited infrastructure and inaccessibility does not allow the rural poor access Vitamin A capsules. As a result, infant and maternal mortality and night blindness are some of the commonest health problems in Ethiopia. Due to these problems, the Ethiopian Sweet Potato Research and Development Program based at Awassa Agricultural Research Center in collaboration with CIP/ PRAPACE launched breeding programme for Vitamin-A rich orange fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). In fact before targeting to breed for Vitamin-A rich sweet potato against VAD, Ethiopia released two yellow/orange fleshed sweet potato varieties from local collections in the year 1987 and 1997 for root yield i.e. Koka-12 and AJAC-1 or Guntute with total root yield 25.4 and 35.35 t/ha, respectively. These varieties were not well adopted due to their texture (moist) and color. Even the case was not known for researchers at the time.

Authors: Assefa Tofu, Teshome Anshebo, Engida Tsegaye, Tesfaye Tadesse, Assefa Tofu, Teshome Anshebo, Engida Tsegaye, Tesfaye Tadesse

Contributors: Shiphar Mulumba, Shiphar Mulumba

Subjects: Nutrition


Publisher: ISTRC

Publication Date: 2007

Keywords: Ethiopia, OFSP, Orange-fleshed sweet potato


Tofu, Assefa, Teshome Anshebo, Engida Tsegaye, and Tesfaye Tadesse. "Summary of progress on Orange fleshed sweet potato research and development in Ethiopia." In Proceedings of the 13th ISTRC Symposium, pp. 728-731. 2007.