ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE: Marketing crops rich in vitamin-A in Ghana
With the shade of the building providing some relief from the mid-afternoon sun, farmers Samuel Azengo and Akolbire Nyaaba explain how their sweet potato production is going.
“I have done the trial. I am now all in,” says Samuel.
They are participating in a quantitative assessment by our iQ team, which will be paired with results from a qualitative deep dive administered by our Human-Centered Design team. We interviewed farmers to understand the successes and barriers to growing a very specific kind of sweet potato: an orange-fleshed sweet potato, high in Vitamin A.
Across Ghana, undernourishment is a critical issue that affects the lives and well-being of many people. Vitamin A is a particularly important nutrient in preventing blindness, specifically in children. A lack of the nutrient is also a contributing factor in one in three deaths of children under five years old in Ghana.
For many farmers, adding a new crop, such as sweet potatoes, is a risk, because they have to buy new seeds and fertilizers, learn new agricultural methods, and worry about whether the crop will actually sell. For Samuel and Akolbire, the potential health benefits of the orange-fleshed sweet potato outweigh the risk. Helping farmers understand these benefits—and the cost of Vitamin A deficiencies—is a vital component to this project.
One issue that Akolbire and some other farmers brought up is the difficulty in storing the sweet potatoes: without proper storage, their shelf-life is significantly shorter than other crops. This limits their options when selling orange-fleshed sweet potatoes at the market—they do not have the flexibility to wait until market prices rise before the produce spoils.
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