Sweetpotato is increasingly important in African agriculture for combating food insecurity and malnutrition, particularly vitamin A deficiency. The Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI) aims to reposition sweetpotato in African food economies, and improve the lives of 10 million families by 2020. The SPHI works through diverse research and development partnerships and seeks to ensure that women and children benefit from its efforts. The Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA) project (under the SPHI) supports pre-breeding and capacity-building efforts through regional Sweetpotato Support Platforms (SSPs) in Uganda, Mozambique and Ghana. From these SSPs, national and sub-regional partners work together breeding for adaptation and quality attributes, selecting and disseminating superior cultivars, and maintaining pathogen-tested germplasm for international distribution. The SSP for West Africa was established at the CSIR-Crops Research Institute (CRI) in Kumasi, Ghana, in 2010, and is working to develop less sweet genotypes for use in staple foods of West Africa and processed products. Parental germplasm has been selected for population improvement through recurrent selection, based on quality attributes (largely through literature review) including sugar profile, taste, dry matter content, and on local adaptation. Selection sites and partners have been identified in 3 regions of Ghana, the Central, Volta and Upper East Regions, where sweetpotato is important, and which vary in agro-ecology. Selecting genotypes in important production zones allows for strong research-extension linkages and enables a client-oriented breeding effort. Although the CRI in Kumasi is not in an important production region, sweetpotato virus disease pressure is high and allows for resistance screening. Initial trials were conducted to implement an accelerated sweetpotato breeding program by evaluating across 3 locations during the first clonal evaluation, which permits early identification of stable genotypes. Evaluation of large numbers of genotypes for the recurrent selection effort will be facilitated through the use of near infrared reflectance spectroscopy to measure sugars, starch and carotenoids. Tissue culture and screenhouse facilities at the CSIR-Crops Research Institute have enabled assembly of a collection of elite sweetpotato genotypes and disease-free planting material for use in breeding and for international distribution.
Authors: Ted Carey, John N. Asafu-Agyei, Evelyn Kwarteng, Joseph Lamptey, Marian Quain, Vivian Oduro, Eric Owusu Mensah, Ibok Oduro, Adjei Adjekum, Ebenezer Obeng-Bio, Hans Adu-Dapaah, Ted Carey, John N. Asafu-Agyei, Evelyn Kwarteng, Joseph Lamptey, Marian Quain, Vivian Oduro, Eric Owusu Mensah, Ibok Oduro, Adjei Adjekum, Ebenezer Obeng-Bio, Hans Adu-Dapaah
Publication Date: 2011