Sweet potato is a storable root crop and a staple food in many parts of Kenya. Many claim it is the fifth most important food crop in developing countries. Sweet potato comes in several varieties and colours such as white, yellow, orange and purple.
The potato is rich in nutrients. The white fleshed variety, for instance, has the highest amount of starch while the purple one is high in anthocyanins, extracts that protect the liver. The yellow and orange fleshed varieties on the other hand are high in beta-carotene, which is a form of vitamin A.
Sweet potatoes also contain calcium and phosphorous, which are good for bone health. They too have fibre, known for health benefits like promoting weight loss.
Sweet potato is a pro-poor food security crop. This is probably because it has low input requirements - meaning it does not need a lot of labour or fertiliser during production.
It is also versatile —can be eaten in different forms such as boiled, baked, steamed or fried, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or even as an in-between meals snack. The high content of beta-carotene, which our bodies can turn into vitamin A, in orange fleshed varieties makes them particularly important.
Nation.co.ke reports that according to the International Potato Centre, just 125g of fresh orange fleshed sweet potato root contain enough beta-carotene to provide the daily pro-vitamin A of a five-year-old. Vitamin A-deficiency is one of the most critical forms of undernourishment, commonly referred to as hidden hunger. It continues to be a problem for children and expectant women, particularly in Africa.