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21.10.2002 General News

Sweet potato variety developed

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SCIENTISTS of the Crop Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have developed a sweet potato variety that has the potential of redressing the problem of Vitamin A deficiency in children.

The new variety, locally called Sauti, which is said to have high levels of betacarotene, the substance that is synthesised to produce Vitamin A, is, therefore, a viable substitute for Vitamin A capsules administered to children to prevent them from the negative effects of Vitamin A deficiency which include poor eye sight.

The Director of CRI, Dr John A. Otoo, who made this known at a Sweet Potato Field Day at Ohawu in the Akatsi District, Volta Region, on Friday, said the new variety is one of the four improved varieties developed in 1998, after a 10-year research by the institute.

The names of the three other varieties in local languages are Okumkom, Faara and Santom Pona.

The field day exhibited the potentials of the varieties, three of which have been widely adopted by farmers in the district.

The day was also used to display the many food uses to which the varieties can be applied and then created the platform for members of the public to interact with the farmers through field visits and open discussion. According to Dr Otoo, the improved varieties are high-yielding, early-maturing, disease resistant and also have a high content of protein.

He described the rate of adoption of the varieties as encouraging, adding, “farmers in parts of Central and Western regions are also cultivating the varieties”.

He expressed great joy at the rate of adoption, saying that “the greatest thing that can happen to the scientist is for the technology he or she has developed to be adopted by the end- user”.

In an address, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Major Courage Quashigah (rtd), called on Ghanaians to help promote the consumption of locally produced commodities, adding that “it is the surest and only way Ghanaians can contribute towards building a sustainable economy for the country”.

He called on scientists to investigate the rationale behind some indigenous phenomena which have been branded satanic and fetish and which, as a result, have been given little or no attention for its socio-economic use.

He noted that the developing countries, especially Ghana, are endowed with many potentials and expertise but due to lack of motivation and encouragement these potentials have not been utilised for the benefit of the people. He said research must be demand-driven and should respond to the needs of sectors such as agriculture, medicine and industry.

The minister praised scientists of the CRI for their devotion and dedication that have resulted in the development and release of the four sweet potato varieties.

In a presentation, Mrs Evelyn Adu-Kwarteng, a scientist of CRI, hinted that sweet potato has many potentials, which include its use in the manufacture of toffee products, non-alcoholic beverages, industrial starch, and bakery products.

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