Video by Jesse Winter
Cyril Ananie is a research farmer in Lume Avete, a community in the Volta Region of eastern Ghana. He is helping researchers test Apomuden, an orange-fleshed sweet potato with extra vitamin A.
Vitamin A is important for fighting infections, growth and bone development, eye health, and overall well-being. But it is often lacking in diets across sub-Saharan Africa, resulting in preventable illness, blindness and even death. But there is a simple source of vitamin A: sweet potatoes.
In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, sweet potatoes are a staple crop for farming families. However, the traditional African sweet potato is dull yellow – not bright orange like the ones we find in Canadian or American supermarkets. This is a problem because the bright orange colour is indicates a high level of beta carotene – which the body converts into vitamin A. After many years of research, new varieties of African sweet potato with much more beta-carotene have been bred using traditional methods, without affecting taste or texture.
The Apomuden variety of orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) that Cyril has been helping to test is a highly nutritious crop that has significant health benefits for his family. A regular participant in research programs that test new varieties of crops, Cyril likes the Apomuden sweet potato because it is easy to grow and matures quickly, providing a good source of income. By listening to the radio, he came to appreciate its nutritional value as well, and now eats it regularly. Cyril says that consuming it makes him feel brand new, and he even uses the leaves to make tea.