With recent breakthroughs in scientific research and the spread of technology, Africa’s sweet potato farmers may soon benefit from tools which could revolutionize disease control.
Pests and diseases cost the global agricultural sector an estimated $540 billion annually, and in developing countries, they cause potato and sweetpotato farmers to lose up to 60 percent of their yields.
Viruses can hinder the adoption of valuable and nutritious crops. For instance, pro-vitamin A orange-fleshed sweetpotato varieties tend to be more susceptible than the white- and yellow-fleshed ones commonly grown in Africa. As viruses accumulate in plants and diminish crop yields, farmers may stop growing a nutritious variety, leaving their families at risk of vitamin A deficiency and the many health problems it causes.
Finding ways of managing sweetpotato viruses is a priority at the International Potato Center (CIP), which has disseminated nutritious varieties to more than 6.5 million African households since 2010. With recent breakthroughs in scientific research and the spread of technology, Africa’s sweetpotato farmers may soon benefit from two tools which could revolutionize disease control.