Malnutrition is one of the most serious health problems affecting infants, children, and women of reproductive age in Tanzania. Despite progress made, millions of children and women in Tanzania continue to suffer from one or more forms of under-nutrition, including low birth weight, stunting, being underweight, wasting, vitamin A deficiency (VAD), iodine deficiency disorders, and anemia. Addressing malnutrition problems results in significant economic and social benefits as it reduces morbidity and mortality leading to resource savings in healthcare, improved education outcomes, enhanced productivity and increased incomes. Improved nutrition will contribute to the achievement of six Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) including the reduction of poverty. In Tanzania, the key ministries implementing the Food and Nutritional Policy and the Nutritional Strategy are the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MAFC). The MoHSW has the role of assessing the health outcome/benefits (including Vitamin A status) and promoting the consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP) through the existing health education programmes in health facilities and communities. The MAFC can advocate and promote the adoption of OFSP crop through the Agricultural Sector Development Program (ASDP). The two key ministries have developed an advocacy and communication strategy that encourages several stakeholders to invest in promotion of production and utilization of OFSP. The stakeholders include the Prime Minister’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PMO-RALG), the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children (MCDGC), and the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT). Others include the private sector, development partners, and civil society organizations (CSO). Promoting the consumption of micronutrient rich food can contribute to the reduction of micronutrient deficiencies with minimal resource investments. OFSP are high in vitamin A content and are known to be acceptable in the communities making it easy to advocate for their uptake. However, there has been little investment in raising the awareness of the benefits of OFSP, thus the numerous nutritional benefits are generally unknown by potential consumers. A situation analysis was conducted to identify the weaknesses and challenges as well as the opportunities to promote OFSP in communities in Tanzania. This situation analysis report (SAR) is prepared as part of the Reaching Agents of Change (RAC) project implementation plan. The RAC project is a 3-year regional initiative aimed at increasing investments and commitments to the dissemination and use of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP) as a cost effective means to combat vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and food insecurity in Africa. Helen Keller International (HKI) and the International Potato Centre (CIP) implement RAC in Tanzania with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The situation analysis involved a review of the various policies, strategies and program documents of the Government of Tanzania (GoT) that could be used to advocate for and promote the investment and consumption of OFSP concomitantly. Some of the policies reviewed include the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy (ASDS), the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP) I and II (better known by its Swahili acronym MKUKUTA), the Tanzania Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan (TAFSIP), and the National Nutritional Strategy (NNS). The resources needed to invest in the promotion of OFSP were also explored. These included the quality and quantity of land, human resources, government and development partners’ commitment, involvement of private sector through public private partnership, the growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and favourable agro-climatic zones. The situation analysis concludes that there remains a great opportunity for production, demand and adoption of OFSP. There is already some production of OFSP in the Lake Zone, and coastal, central, and southern parts of Tanzania. The policy environment presents opportunities not only in the policies mentioned above but also in the Local Government Act and in the Food and Nutritional policy. The stable and/or increasing GDP implies purchasing power in the communities is improving and hence increasing the demand for food commodities like OFSP. In addition the GoT and implementing partners are committed to supporting agricultural initiatives OFSP Situation Analysis and Needs Assessment Report – July 2012 to improve food and nutritional security. The recent promotion of public private partnerships further supports government commitments in this area. Only 10% of Tanzania’s arable land is used for food crop production implying that there is significant opportunity for investment. The country is endowed with climatic variations and agro ecological zones which favour production of various crops. The deficiency of vitamin A in a number of complementary foods for infants and young children who are highly affected by VAD should increase the demand of OFSP, with appropriate education to caretakers. The above factors increase the potential of OFSP adoption in Tanzania. However, this review has established a number of challenges that need to be addressed. One such challenge is the notion that sweet potatoes are to be consumed only by women and children. Although women and young children are the most nutritionally vulnerable, increased demand among men could ensure benefits among the wider population and reduce and negative associations of this important crop. In addition, most people identify with and prefer the traditional white-fleshed varieties of sweet potato. Other challenges that need urgent attention include the proliferation of viruses that attack sweet potatoes and the shortages of vines for the crop’s production. The main resource needed to produce OFSP is land; men own the majority of which. As men are targeted less in most non-commercial agricultural initiatives, there is a need to sensitize them and bring them on board as one of the key agents of change required to enhance investment in and utilization of OFSP. The formulation of an advocacy and communication strategy to encourage and further OFSP adoption in Tanzania is crucial.
Authors: Helen Keller International, Helen Keller International
Contributors: Administrator, Administrator
Publisher: International Potato Center
Publication Date: December2012
Rights: Open access
Keywords: malnutrition, Orange-fleshed sweet potato, Poverty Alleviation, Tanzania
HOW TO CITE
Helen Keller international, (HKI). 2012. Orange-fleshed sweet potato situation analysis and needs assessment. International potato center (CIP).