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Food Nutr Bull. 2007 Jun;28(2 Suppl):S258-70.

Ensuring the supply of and creating demand for a biofortified crop with a visible trait: lessons learned from the introduction of orange-fleshed sweet potato in drought-prone areas of Mozambique.

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Jan W Low was affiliated with the Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.



Orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) is a promising biofortified crop for sub-Saharan Africa because it has high levels of provitamin A carotenoids, the formed vitamin A is bioavailable, and white-fleshed sweet potato is already widely grown.


To examine whether farmers will adopt varieties with a distinct visible trait, young children will eat OFSP in sufficient quantities to improve vitamin A intake, OFSP can serve as an entry point for promoting a more diversified diet, and lessons can be drawn to assure sustained adoption.


The 2-year quasi-experimental intervention study followed households and children (n = 741; mean age, 13 months at baseline) through two agricultural cycles in drought prone-areas of Mozambique.


OFSP is acceptable to farmers when introduced by using an integrated approach. In the second year, intervention children (n = 498) were more likely than control children (n = 243) to have consumed OFSP (54% vs. 4%), dark-green leaves (60% vs. 46%), or ripe papaya (65% vs. 42%) on 3 or more days in the previous week (p < .001 for all comparisons). Their vitamin A intakes were nearly eight times higher than those of control children (median, 426 vs. 56 1g RAE [retinol activity equivalents], p < .001). Diet diversification was limited by difficult agroecological conditions and low purchasing power. However, dietary diversity was higher among intervention than control children (32% vs. 9% consuming food from more than four groups; p < .001).


An integrated OFSP-based approach had a positive impact on the vitamin A intake of young children. A market development component and improved vine multiplication systems are recommended to assure sustained adoption.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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