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Report Stakeholders Consultation Workshop Growing Project August 2022

The Generating Revenues & Opportunities for Women to Improve Nutrition in Ghana (GROWING) is an integrated climate-smart, nutrition-agriculture-marketing project focusing on transforming the individual agencies of women, thus creating an enabling environment and appropriate practices to address key gender inequities to ensure more equitable outcomes. As part of the participatory planning and implementation processes, the GROWING project facilitated the stakeholders’ consultative workshop during Aug 1-4, 2022 in Tamale, Ghana. Accordingly, 41 key participants (17 women) representing main stakeholders and implementing partners have been identified and attended the workshop. These key partners encompass Ghana Health Services (GHS) (national, regional and district levels), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) (national, regional and district levels), the Women in Agriculture Development Directorate (WIAD) (which is
part of MOFA), University of Development Studies (UDS) (key staff from the departments of nutrition, behavioral studies and agricultural economics and business), private actors (a cavy rearing young man and a sweetpotato vine multiplier) and an environmental consultant.

Standard operating procedures for sweetpotato breeding data management. COP Breeding Data Management SweetGAINS

Current modernization efforts of sweetpotato breeding operations in Africa establish a new mindset. A modern sweetpotato breeding program continuously generates vast amounts of data on which it depends for all decision making throughout the program. Without a proper systematization of efforts, it is likely that significant mistakes can be unwillingly made, which would impact in a negative manner both genetic gains and the adoption of new varieties by smallholders. This document describes standard operating procedures (SOPs) for implementing breeding data workflows to ensure that all necessary breeding data are recorded appropriately and made easily accessible. This document needs to be considered as an alive one, as through its ensuing iterations additional SOPs will be added, and the current ones would be modified to reflect the learnings acquired. The data management SOPs in this volume cover the following key sweetpotato breeding data workflows: phenotyping, crossing, quality assessment, germplasm management, and DNA sample management. A relational database, SPBase (www.sweetpotatobase.org)1, plays a central role as a breeding data management system across workflows. Several other digital tools have been developed to connect to SPBase to facilitate recording and uploading different types of data.

Quality Diets for Better Health Healthy Living Clubs

Quality Diets for Better Health (QDBH) is a CIP-led intervention in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ and the Sidama regions in the South of Ethiopia. The project strives to reach 15,000 direct beneficiary households with OFSP planting material and nutrition training aiming mainly at improved diets and vitamin A intake of pregnant and lactating women and children under two years old. The training vehicle are so-called Healthy Living Clubs:  groups over 30 households that receive training in sweetpotato farming and appropriate child nutrition practices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic face-to-face trainings could only be given to smaller groups and an adapted training program of four sessions was developed. This document contains the adapted training curriculum developed by Rollins School of Nutrition of Emory University, one of the project’s implementing partners.

Quality Diets for Better Health Healthy Living Clubs

Quality Diets for Better Health (QDBH) is a CIP-led intervention in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ and the Sidama regions in the South of Ethiopia. The project strives to reach 15,000 direct beneficiary households with OFSP planting material and nutrition training aiming mainly at improved diets and vitamin A intake of pregnant and lactating women and children under two years old. The training vehicle are so-called Healthy Living Clubs:  groups over 30 households that receive training in sweetpotato farming and appropriate child nutrition practices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic face-to-face trainings could only be given to smaller groups and an adapted training program of four sessions was developed. This document contains the adapted training curriculum developed by Rollins School of Nutrition of Emory University, one of the project’s implementing partners.

Quality Diets for Better Health Healthy Living Clubs

Quality Diets for Better Health (QDBH) is a CIP-led intervention in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ and the Sidama regions in the South of Ethiopia. The project strives to reach 15,000 direct beneficiary households with OFSP planting material and nutrition training aiming mainly at improved diets and vitamin A intake of pregnant and lactating women and children under two years old. The training vehicle are so-called Healthy Living Clubs:  groups over 30 households that receive training in sweetpotato farming and appropriate child nutrition practices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic face-to-face trainings could only be given to smaller groups and an adapted training program of four sessions was developed. This document contains the adapted training curriculum developed by Rollins School of Nutrition of Emory University, one of the project’s implementing partners.

Report on Sweetpotato value chain study: Exploring opportunities to promote greater exploitation of the benefits of Sweetpotato in representative states of Nigeria.

This report is the output of a study undertaken as part of the Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA) Project, which aims to improve “food security and livelihoods of 150,000 poor households in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by exploiting the untapped potential of sweetpotato”.

The study seeks to explore how Nigeria, which ranks third in global output of the crop, can exploit the benefits of sweetpotato in both its food and farming systems. Sweetpotato is not only a good source of carbohydrates, fibre and many micronutrients but also the orange-fleshed varieties are especially rich in beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Hence, increased consumption of the orange-fleshed sweetpotato can significantly reduce Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and associated conditions such as blindness and premature death in children and pregnant women. Cultivation of this versatile crop requires fewer inputs and less labour than other staple crops but, in contrast with other low-input starchy staples such as cassava, it is a relatively higher value crop with a rather short gestation period and, therefore, can potentially offer poor households an effective means to optimise farm-based earnings.

The study was specifically intended to generate evidence on the desirability and feasibility of investing in development of sweetpotato value chains for fresh root marketing and processed products in the major producing areas and markets.

SweetGAINS SpeedBreed and Seed Community of Practice (CoP) West Africa virtual meeting

The SweetGAINS SpeedBreed and Seed CoP – West Africa virtual meeting was held on 27 and 29 May and 1, 3 and 5 June 2020. The meeting aimed to ensure the continuing development and dissemination of nutritious and productive sweetpotato varieties for West Africa. The meetings were organized by CIP under the SweetGAINS project and aligned to CORAF’s priority regional programs like the National Centers of Specialization [NCoS] and Regional Centers of Excellence [RCoE]).

 

The meeting objectives were:
• To work towards building a functioning regional sweetpotato Breeding and Seed CoP in West Africa;
and
• To strengthen the capacity of interested partner programs in key elements of breeding excellence,
including product profiles, stage gate management, trial design and data management.

The meeting was attended by 33 participants (10 female; 23 male) from several national agricultural programs in the ECOWAS region, including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. The participants included breeders, agronomists, economists, social scientists and program managers.


The meeting was officially opened by Dr. Marian Quain speaking on behalf of the Director General of The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Prof. Victor Agyeman.


Times and topics of the meetings:
27 May, 9-11 a.m. GMT. Regional breeding/seed background and potential.
29 May, 9-11 a.m. GMT. Concepts in breeding/seed excellence.
1 June, 9-11 a.m. GMT. Concepts in breeding/seed excellence.
3 June, 9-11 a.m. GMT. Seed systems and dissemination updates and innovations.
5 June, 9-11 a.m. GMT. Next steps towards a regional vision.

Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) vine silage: a cost-effective supplement for milk production in smallholder dairy-farming systems of East Africa?

Abstract
Context. Dairy production in East Africa is dominated by smallholder production systems, but is dogged by suboptimal milk production mediated by poor nutrition. Grain-based concentrates can be used to make the energy and protein deficits in rain-fed systems, but this strategy faces several hurdles. For livestock production systems to be sustainable, it is important that less human-edible food is fed to animals and sweet potato can serve both as a source of human food (tuber) and animal feed (vines). Smallholder scale-appropriate technology has been used to allow feed preservation of the perishable sweet potato vines for use throughout the year.


Aims. We assessed the efficacy of sweet potato vine silage plus wheat bran (SPVSWB) as a supplement to maintain milk production at a lower cost than that of grain-based commercial dairy concentrate (CDC).
Methods. Multiparous Holstein–Friesian cattle (n = 12) were given a basal diet of Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum cv. South Africa), ad libitum, plus a fixed amount of either SPVSWB or CDC, (designed to be both isonitrogenous and iso-caloric) during late (LL) and early (EL) lactations.


Key results.Daily milk yield was lower for SPVSWB than for CDC groups, although comparable (not significant), in both LL (6.2 vs 7.5 L/day) and EL (14.2 vs 16.0 L/day); however, the lower cost of production for SPVSWB (23.2 vs 48.7 KES/kg DM) ensured that margins on milk income over feed (per cow per day) were greater for SPVSWB in both periods. (LL: 71 vs 14.5; and EL: 426 vs 400 KES/day). The lower intake for SPVSWB than for CDC is most probably due to high neutral detergent fibre content in the supplement and the lower milk production, owing to either, or both, of lower energy and protein intake.


Conclusions. It is suggested that some reformulation of SPVS, replacing in part or in whole the Napier grass with rejected sweet potato tubers, will decrease the neutral detergent fibre content, increase the metabolisable energy content, reducing the need for additional wheat bran and may, thereby, enhance the production response to equate with that of CDC.


Implications.It is clear that, despite SPVSWB eliciting lower milk production (LL 6.2 and EL14.2 L/day) than does CDC (LL 7.5 and EL 16.0 L/day), SPVSWB is a cost-effective, accessible alternative to grain-based supplementation in small-holder dairy-farming systems of Kenya.

Topic 20: Sweetpotato weevil management?

Sweetpotato weevil is the most serious pest of sweetpotato, with reported losses ranging from 5% to 80% worldwide. The larva, which feeds both on stems and roots, is the most destructive stage of the insect.  The control of sweetpotato weevil has met some degree of difficulties. It’s presence inside the tubers protects it from contact pesticides and most arthropod natural enemies. As part of integrated pest management, numerous chemical insecticides have been tested for the control of sweetpotato weevils.  Control achieved by post planting application of chemical insecticides appears to be due to mortality of adult weevils in search of feeding sites. Movement of the adult weevil may facilitate the contact between the toxicant and the insect, thereby resulting in insect mortality.  This method may require frequent application for it to be effective. 

However, frequent application of insecticides is not cost effective, hence not making economic sense to smallholder farmers due to the low market price of sweetpotato in most countries in Africa. In addition, a high proportion of these chemicals may be toxic and may have adverse effects on human health, wildlife, local food sources such as cattle or fish, beneficial insects and biodiversity. Will researching in innovative and cutting edge non-chemical pest management approaches be a breakthrough that will strike a balance between improving smallholder farmers livelihood through improved yields and sustainable environmental management?

Topic 19: Scaling up Triple S: Why, what and how should we do it for significant impact?

Timely access to enough quantities of quality planting material is a key limiting factor in sweetpotato production in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is exacerbated by unpredictable changes in climatic conditions which makes it difficult to conserve planting material during the dry seasons.   Triple S is one of the technologies that can help address this. Triple S involves Storing sweetpotato roots in Sand and letting them to Sprout when it is about to rain. Some stories about the benefits of Triple S are available on http://www.rtb.cgiar.org/blog/2019/03/13/small-investment-big-results/ and https://www.sweetpotatoknowledge.org/champion-farmer-household-contributes-scaling-use-triple-s-technology/ .  Concerted efforts are needed in scaling up the technology to benefit more farmers. The 2019 SSS-CoP online discussions started with experience and knowledge sharing on Triple S with an aim of proposing ways through which the technology can benefit more farmers. Led by Mihiretu Cherinet, the discussion was held on April 8 – 23, 2019.

Why Triple S

Triple S which refers to ‘Storage in Sand and Sprouting’ provides planting material from storage roots in areas with a long dry season. In such areas, farmers often obtain sweetpotato planting material from roots which have been overlooked during harvest and sprout when it rains. However:

  1. The roots sprout only when it rains and planting material only becomes available some weeks afterwards
  2. The roots may sprout in distant fields, unprotected from grazing animals and thieves.

Topic 18: Tapping ICTs for better sweetpotato seed systems

Several studies have shown that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)-enabled platforms can improve farmer access to extension services, market information, financial services and inputs including improved seed. There are also efforts aimed at applying ICTs in seed systems for vegetatively propagated crops. For instance, the Seed Tracker developed by IITA is a comprehensive WebApp for seed value chain management, monitoring, evaluation and learning. It supports seed production planning, seed traceability (from production to end-use over generations and seasons), seed quality certification, seed inventory, real-time tracking of production fields, seed certification, marketing, information resources, geographic maps and map-based data navigation, and decision support tools.

TOPIC 2_2020: Enhancing marketing among farmer-multipliers (DVMs) to reduce dependence on NGO customers

Over the past years, tremendous progress has been made towards the development of sweetpotato varieties for the consumers in various African countries. These efforts have been funded by the different African governments or (and) international donors. As a result, the availability of improved sweetpotato varieties is no longer the greatest bottleneck to sweetpotato production. Prevailing limitations lie in the areas of having planting material at the start of each crop season and marketing for storage roots and vines. The African market is mainly dominated by informal seed markets for clonally propagated crops; however, various projects have spearheaded the formalization of the seed systems.

 

In the sweetpotato seed system, several approaches have been undertaken and this led to the development of decentralized vine multipliers (DVMs). Previous studies have shown that these DVMs have three markets (customers) they serve namely; 1) Small holders lacking wetlands 2) Mid-to large-scale farmers lacking wetlands and 3) Projects, mostly led by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) but sometimes by local or national governments. The DVMs have however relied on the NGOs as their primary market. This market is characterized by its large size of purchase, very few number of sales, very high vine price, distant (location) from the DVMs and unpredictability of the regularity of purchase. The pitfalls of this market lead to unforeseen losses by the DVMs. As a result, many DVMs find the business non lucrative and drop out shortly after the support from any funding project ends.

This discussion therefore sought to 1) identify marketing models to enhance the broader inclusion of the other two sweetpotato vine customers 2) Identify the challenges the DVMs face in marketing and possible interventions.

TOPIC 1_2020: Increasing adoption of newly released sweetpotato varieties through innovative and sustainable seed delivery pathways

Great investments have been made towards development of improved sweetpotato varieties. This has borne fruit with release of a significant number of improved white-fleshed, orange-fleshed and more recently purple-fleshed varieties. However, traditional varieties still dominate the smallholder farm systems despite the declining yields. Changing this requires that diverse user-preferences are incorporated in the early phases of breeding to ensure that newly developed varieties are suitable to local conditions and at the same time respond to market requirements.

 

It is therefore important for breeders to understand key traits preferred by different end-users. At the same time seed system experts must understand how to sustainably disseminate the improved varieties. This requires innovative approaches where all the value chain actors are well connected and better trust with good governance set up and respond to each other. Building sustainable linkages depends on the understanding of push and pull factors across the value chain.

 

The major difference between supply-push and demand-pull strategy in the value chain is the role of the customer/or end-user. The push strategy focuses on taking the product directly to the customer by ensuring customers are aware about the product and know that it comes from recognized sources (i.e., labeling, source of seed, fake seed identification, trade show, direct selling points, modern packing materials, sales point display, etc.).  Whereas, the pull strategy involves motivating customers to buy the product (i.e., distributing free sample seed, discount prices, additional services if customers buy the product such as free access to extension and credit services, door delivery if they order in advance through digital platform etc.). In this discussion, members of the SweetGAINS SpeedBreed and Seed Systems Community of practice sought to find:

  1. Examples of supply-push and demand-pull factors that can lead to greater connectivity within the seed supply chain and how to harness them
  2. Ways of using key traits in developing push/pull strategies for greater varietal turnover

 

1st SweetGAINS SpeedBreed and Seed Community of Practice (CoP) – East and Central Africa meeting Kigali, Rwanda.

The SweetGAINS project SpeedBreed and Seed Community of Practice -East and Central Africa meeting was held at Galaxy hotel in Kigali Rwanda from 18th to 22nd February 2020. The theme of the meeting was ‘Towards building synergies between modernized sweetpotato breeding and seed systems for successful delivery of improved varieties in East and Central Africa.


The meeting was attended by 20 participants (7 female 13 male) from 5 different countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Peru and Rwanda). The participants were from different NARIs SweetGAINS project partners and CIP. The participants included breeders, agronomists, economists, social scientists, communication specialists, and program manager.


The meeting had several training sessions which covered product profiles, electronic data capture and management, biometrics, type of trials, experimental designs and field layout among other topics. The meeting featured presentations and discussions.


The meeting was officially opened by Dr. Charles Bucagu, the Director General, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB). In his remarks, he noted that it was great that SweetGAINS project focused on modernizing breeding and the need to have efficient and effective seed systems.


On the last day participants participated in two learning journeys to get first-hand information on seed production activities in Rwanda.

PROMOTING OFSP USING LEAFLET AND ASSESSING ITS EFFECTIVENESS TOWARDS KAP OF SWEET POTATO CONSUMERS IN HAWASSA CITY, SNNPR ETHIOPIA

The Quality Diets for Better Health (QDBH) project is an Activity carried out by the International Potato Center (PIN), People in Need (PIN) and Emory University between 2017 and 2021 in the Sidama and Gedeo Zones in the South of Ethiopia. The project is financed by the European Union and aims at reaching 15,000 rural households with orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) and nutrition education, and serving at least 61,000 urban consumers with fresh OFSP roots or with processed food that includes OFSP as an ingredient. It has supported research by students from Hawassa University on agriculture and nutrition related topics.
As part of this collaboration an experiment was carried out to measure the impact of validated leaflets with information about the nutritional benefits of OFSP on consumers’ knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP).
This experiment involved twenty vegetable retailers in Hawassa and their customers. During eight weeks, ten retailers in Hawassa received OFSP roots and leaflets with relevant information to hand out to their customers (treatment); the other ten only received roots (control). At the start and at the end of the experiment, five trained enumerators interviewed 632 customers by telephone using a standardized questionnaire. The study measured KAP scores at the beginning and the end of the trial. Initially, there was no statistically significant difference between both treatment arms. At the end, there was a significant improvement of KAP scores among those who received the leaflets compared with the start and with the control group, highlighting the potential of the dissemination of written material among urban consumers as a means to increase the demand for OFSP and to improve the intake of vitamin A.