Africa: How Sweet Potato is Preventing the Global Wheat Crisis from Taking Root in Africa

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Long before the Ukraine conflict began and sent wheat futures spiralling, scientists in Africa were experimenting with an alternative ingredient for baked goods: orange fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) puree.

These efforts to diversify staple products like bread and chapati in Malawi as well as Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda by replacing as much as 60% of wheat flour are now buffering African food systems.

The important lesson here for other African countries is that potato and sweet potato are more than crisis crops that can fill a gap between harvests within three months to tide over the poorest. Rather, these staple crops can be a cornerstone of a nutritious, diverse and resilient food system, which can withstand the shockwaves of market crises by avoiding an over-reliance on single commodities.

The benefits of a more diverse, and therefore, resilient food system that makes the most of crops like sweet potato are manifold but require more investment and commitment to scale up production and unlock the full potential.

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