Over 100 people from fourteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), as well as the USA, UK, Germany and Peru, convened in Nairobi, Kenya on 24 September to 26 September 2018, for the 9th Annual Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI) at the Concord Hotel in Parklands, Nairobi. The theme of this year’s SPHI meeting was ‘Progress in Research for Development for Sweetpotato in Africa’.
The meeting was officially opened by Dr. Oscar Magenya, representing Prof. Hamadi Iddi Boga, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture and Research, Kenya. He stated “The pressure that the agricultural sector is facing is not only of climate change but also of population growth. The demand for food is projected to double by 2030. The role of early maturing, high-yielding sweet potato varieties in the food systems becomes critical and obvious.”
Mr. Augustin Olala, Assistant Director Department of Coordination of Government Business, Office of Prime minister Tanzania delivered a keynote address on 24 October focusing on “Integrating Orange-fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) into Government Policy and Creating an Enabling Environment in Tanzania”.
The meeting featured presentations and discussions on the progress in sweetpotato science and delivery along the entire sweetpotato value chain from scientists, experts, government representatives, academics and donors from the agriculture, nutrition and development communities.
Over the three-day period, participants engaged in discussions on progress made across sweetpotato value chains such as seed systems, production, post-harvest technologies and marketing in sub Saharan Africa, in line with the meeting theme. Dr. Julius Okello from the International Potato Center (CIP)-Uganda gave an update on the current status of sweetpotato in Sub-Saharan Africa which opened the floor to presentations and discussions on lessons learnt from the various aspects of sweetpotato delivery projects and the way forward for the SPHI.
On day two of the meeting, participants had the opportunity to participate on one of four deep dive workshops. The workshops covered the following topics:
- Learning to be an Effective Biofortification Advocate led by Tumaini Mikindo, Hilda Munyua and Joyce Maru
- Creating Orange-fleshed Sweetpotato Products with Chef Arnold Mawala, Daniel Mbogo & Vivian Atakos
- Are you ready for scaling? Learn about the new “scaling readiness” tool and how it’s been used for scaling Triple S” led by Margaret McEwan
- Developing an Effective Consumer Panel for Evaluating Root Taste and Quality Traits with Tawanda Muzhingi & Eric Dery
One of meeting highlights was the awarding of two $500 prizes each under the Excellence in Sweetpotato Competition:
- Best Sweetpotato Scientific Paper in 2017 was awarded to Derick Malavi a Food Scientist at the International Potato Center (CIP).
- Communication of Change Award for 2017 to Prof. Ibok Oduro and Maame Ekua Manful(in absentia) both from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana for their communication work related to the development of Sweetpot Yoghurt.
On the 26th of September, private sector players from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria working with OFSP displayed value added and processed OFSP products and posters. This provided a platform for participants to learn about the progress made in the development of processing and value addition of OFSP.
The three-day meeting ended with a cocktail session where winners of the SPHI 2018 photo contest received their awards. Check out the video of the 2018 photo contest winners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddhlO-y-j54&t=1s
All in all, an excellent learning opportunity for the growing sweetpotato community of practice!