ORE is producing a vitamin-A rich yellow fleshed variety of sweet potato which is helping to alleviate malnutrition in Haiti, by providing a rich source of vitamin A.
Sweet Potatoes are a staple food in Haiti
Sweet potato is a key staple food in the Haitian diet, so we are promoting 'orange flesh sweet potatoes' which is very rich in vitamin A, compared the local varieties. Yields from the new varieties are substantially higher than from traditional sweet potatoes which translates into higher income of farmers.
ORE has been collaborating with CIP, an international research centre and participating in AGROSALUD, the regional bio-fortified food program to promote the most nutrient-rich sweet potatoes in Haiti. ORE has been multiplying large quantities of sweet potato cuttings for farmers to plant. The goal is to help Haiti develop its own seed-producing capabilities making it possible to help thousands of the farmers to grow improved sweet potato. The result will be a year-round source of Vitamin A and other micro-nutrients, providing better nutrition for the needy sectors of the population.
Using agriculture as a tool for improving public health seems obvious, as an alternative to programs distributing nutritional supplements or fortifications which are added to foods. Biofortification brings to bear the powers of agricultural and nutrition science to improve the quality of food as it comes out of the field. Everyone, particularly children, love their taste so it has a great potential as nutritional source of food.
Statistics show that over a quarter of Haitian children suffer from chronic malnutrition and a larger percentage of adults are undernourished. ORE has worked with the university of Connecticut on a study of Food Intake among Women in Rural South Haiti, funded by CIDA through the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT). The results suggest a need for micronutrient enhanced foods to alleviate potential micronutrient deficiencies. This crop offers enormous benefits as a nutritional source of food for the poor and undernourished.
A look at ORE's vitamin-rich sweet potato program
Biofortified staple food to help reduce malnutrition
Malnutrition, due to a deficiency of micronutrients in the diet, directly affects the health of over half the world's people. Millions of preschool age children have visible eye damage due to Vitamin A deficiency and many of them will go blind. Micronutrient malnutrition is primarily the result of diets poor in bio-available vitamins and minerals; diets consisting primarily of least expensive staple foods.
Biofortification is the process of breeding staple food crops that are rich in bio-available nutrients. Through plant breeding, crops fortify themselves and load nutrients into their seeds and roots, which are then harvested and eaten. Through biofortification, it is possible to provide farmers with crop varieties that naturally reduce anemia, cognitive impairment, and other nutritionally related health problems, and potentially reach millions of people.
Support our efforts to give improve nutrition in rural Haiti