Using sand storage technology: can we store sweetpotato roots for food and vines, thus contributing to food and nutrition security in drought-prone areas?
Orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) can significantly contribute to the fight against vitamin A deficiency in Sub-Saharan Africa. Erratic rainfalls, poor soil fertility, virus diseases, weevil incidence, and animal destruction are often experienced by farmers, particularly in drought-prone areas, and can disrupt crop production. There is a need for seed systems that supply sweetpotato planting material in-time, so that farmers can plant and harvest this crop early. Between 2011 and 2018, studies were conducted in Northern Malawi and Ghana on a technique using sand to store sweetpotato storage roots. The sprouted roots can be planted for producing vines (planting material) and unsprouted roots used for household consumption or sales. Various types of sand, and some indigenous storage techniques were investigated. Using the dry sand technique has proven to be highly effective for rural poor people living in areas with a long dry season. The studies found that vines could be readily available for planting at any time, including at the onset of the rainy season. As the onset of rains becomes more inconsistent, this technology may allow farmers to quickly respond to the early start of the rainy season with clean planting material. The trained vine producers could generate income from vine sales. Furthermore, farmers had food stock during the hunger period or sold roots when needed to buy other household items. Sand storage allowed farmers to realize good market prices, in contrast to the peak of the harvest season when prices are low due to glut. The final research findings showed the sand storage technology to be an effective approach to help reduce poverty, improve food and nutrition security and mitigate the effects of climate change. Scaling out of this technique is under way.
Abidin, P.E., Asare, K., Kazembe, J., Akansake, D., Dorgbetor, I.K., Suleman, I., Achibase, S., Imoro, S., Dery, E.K., Mourik, T.V. and Carey, E.E. (2019). Using sand storage technology: can we store sweetpotato roots for food and vines, thus contributing to food and nutrition security in drought-prone areas?. Acta Hortic. 1251, 207-216
shelf-life of OFSP roots, sweetpotato vine production, food security, climate uncertainty