On the 6th September the KIT Royal Tropical Institute and Emeritus Professor Rudy Rabbinge, held a meeting bringing together government officials, international research institution representatives and potential private sector partners to explore the potential role of the Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) in helping to address food and nutrition security in West Africa. The event was co-organized with the International Potato Center (CIP) and the Kofi Annan Foundation.
Following a welcome address by KIT Royal Tropical Institute CEO Marc Schneiders, the Chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, Kofi Annan himself, highlighted the potential of the vitamin-rich Sweetpotato, noting that while pilot initiatives had achieved traction and some early successes in Ghana, there is still a need to take OFSP work to scale if it is to have a considerable impact in the region. Ms. Nane Annan also highlighted the significant nutritional benefits of OFSP and the potential to reach urban populations through the processing of OFSP into bread or chips.
Subsequent presentations discussed the critical aspects of technologies, as well as institutional innovations and criteria, and the challenges and conditions required to take business, agricultural and rural development initiatives to scale. These aspects were discussed at length and resulted in a number of action-items to be followed up on.
First, it was concluded that there is a need to build on the expertise of private sector participants. OFSP processing to produce purée as well as the use of OFSP purée in the production of healthier convenience foods such as bread, was a subject of great interest. However, there was a consensus for the need to carry out marketing studies and communications activities to explore market opportunities and foster demand for OFSP products. Participants agreed that OFSP must be marketed not just as part of a healthy diet but also as a tasty, delicious food and snack.
Due to the importance of identifying and understanding market opportunities within the larger food system in Ghana, it was suggested that CIP and KIT Royal Tropical Institute collaborate in the effort to develop chain development research proposals and pursue funding opportunities in The Netherlands.