A local potato variety known as the Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) which solves Vitamin ‘A’ deficiency in children under five, pregnant women and lactating mothers has been launched in Accra.
The crop which is little known in the country is grown in a number of communities in the Central, Volta and Upper East Regions. It is extremely rich in bioavailable beta-carotene which the body converts into Vitamin A (retinol).
The Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato when adopted into the national staple crop and cultivated nationwide, will go a long way to solve vitamin A deficiency, an affliction said to cause blindness in children who are mostly at risk.
At a media briefing and exhibition organised by the Editors Forum Ghana (CFG), in collaboration with Farm Radio International, a sweet potato breeder at the Crops Research Institute(FRI), Mr. Kwadwo Adofo, said the Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato is fortified with Vitamin A and Ghana should take advantage of it by integrating it into the national food chain.
The crop in addition to its nutritional values, when planted spreads its leaves to the extent that it protects the soil from erosion and also control pests from destroying the potato tuber.
He said Ghana was endowed with a variety of local foods which were rich in protein and other health benefits and called on Ghanaians to shift from the craze of consumption of foreign food to local staples.
According to him, the Orange- Fleshed Sweet Potato could be integrated into the School Feeding Programme to provide the children with Vitamin ‘A’ to accelerate their growth and good health.
Ms. Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, Chairman of Editors Forum Ghana (EFG), had earlier in an address, assured promoters of the potato of their support in educating the public about the health benefits of the crop and the need to consume it.
Ms. Yeboah-Afari said it is with the help of the media that the Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato campaign would succeed.
The press launch of the Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato was preceded by an exhibition mounted by the FRI which showcased the various by-products of the crop.
These included Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato cake, bread, liquor, drinks, powder, tea leaves among others.
By Norman Cooper