sweet potato

Can a new sweet potato help tackle child malnutrition?

It may spend less time in news headlines than Ebola or the Zika virus, but Vitamin A deficiency is a much bigger public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa and far deadlier.

Estimates say that it affects as many as 43 million children across the continent.

Children affected by the condition are more likely to go blind, have their growth stunted, contract diseases and die earlier.

But now scientists think they may have found an ally in the battle against malnutrition, in the form of that popular African staple, the sweet potato.

Traditional methods urged to save sweet potato

Dr David Askin of Kilu Consulting (New Zealand) said sweet potato weevil is the worst insect pest of kaukau that ruins storage roots (tubers) which rot with bitter taint.

Kaukau is the most important food crop in PNG with over 60% of the total population depending on it.

Dr Askin said when kaukau is infected with the weevil's larvae, even pigs won’t eat the storage roots.

His advice comes at a time when there are reports of the weevil causing great harm in PNG gardens, especially when communities are slowly recovering from food shortage caused by the drought.

Kaukau farmers welcome good advice

Through a field day last week, the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) demonstrated several research-based and innovative best practices. 

NARI’s Tambul based regional development co-ordinator Kud Sitango said the event was organized for farmers to acquire new and improved ideas and skills by seeing and learning from exhibitions and demonstrations by agricultural researchers.