Audio postcard: Research on sweet potato selection shows that nutrition is often an afterthought

Hi I’m Janelle from Farm Radio Ghana. Here’s my interview with Frank Quiquché Aka, Senior Researcher at the crop science department of the University of Cape Coast.

This is Frank explaining his colleague Esther Jan’s poster.

My name is Frank Quiquché Aka. Normally farmers consider certain factors in their choice of a sweet potato, especially they consider the dry matter content. Esther wanted to evaluate all the types that we have in Ghana and see the differences in terms of the yield and then the consumer preference. So she worked on seven, including the orange-fleshed sweet potato, that is the “apomoden” as we call it locally.

Her finding was the dry matter content, that was basically what farmers used in deciding on which one to select. And comparatively most farmers do not consider the nutritional content of the sweet potato. They look at which one one tastes nice, which one when cooked is hot, but without looking at the nutritional content. So if there’s much education as the importance of the apomoden, I’m sure the farmers would go for it.

Much research should go into the cooking abilities of apomoden. That will be the solution. Instead of cooking it for too long you find a way to cook it for just for a little while, to the texture that you want. There should be much research into the dry matter content so that they will get a variety with the same nutrients that when you cook will be attractive to the farmers.

A staple dish in Ghana, sweet potato is grown widely. Frank recommends the local dish “potong potong,” which is made from mashed sweet potato with added sauces. Mashed while cooked, a fast-cooking sweet potato is preferred for the dish.

For farmers, choosing a sweet potato variety revolves around how firm the potato is once cooked and its flavour, rather than nutritional value. New ways to grow and cook the sweet potato may result from research like Esther’s, leading to a more delicious and nutritious future for consumers in Ghana.

With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Farm Radio International is working with a number of partners to employ participatory radio programs to add nutritious orange-fleshed sweet potato to at least 500,000 rural households’ diets in Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Burkina Faso. Learn more about the project here.

About the author
An audio engineer from Melbourne, Australia, Janelle shared her expertise through an internship with FRI as a radio technical development officer in Accra, Ghana.

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