Sweet potatoes originated in America and are produced in Colombia. Despite this, they are not hugely popular domestically due to the strong demand for other products, such as potatoes or cassava. As a result, and in order to exploit its potential and improve the quality of life for producers in the Manati region, in the Atlantic department, the Asopescama cooperative has decided to export 4,400 tons of the product to Europe. Bonner Gibbs, the international director of the subsidiary in the Netherlands, stated that Agrosavia would start shipping its sweet potatoes in October.
Asopescama's goal is to have 200 hectares dedicated to export by the end of the year. By 2020, the goal is to have 1,000 hectares. “We want to position the business and generate income for sweet potato producers. Our most important destination countries are Holland and England,” Gibbs said.
According to Carlos Mario Sierra Naranjo, Agrosavia's master researcher, a little over a decade ago sweet potato was not a commercial crop. “The southern part of the departments of Guajira, Atlantico, and Bolívar, as well as Sucre's savanna in the subregion of the dry Caribbean, have opted for this low-cost commercial alternative, which today has few possibilities of competing in the foreign market,” he said. The variety grown by Asopescama is the Agrosavia-Aurora variety, which yields 30 tons per hectare.
The importance of sweet potatoes in the world
Sweet potatoes are the fifth most important food in developing countries and are grown in more than 100 nations. Global production exceeds 130 million tons. It ranks third in the world registry in root and tuber production after potatoes and cassava.