Malawi has been urged to commercialise farming of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP) due to the tubers’ high nutritional values.
Apart from being high in vitamin A critical for pregnant women and children, the potatoes are drought-resistant and experts believe they can play a key role in Malawi’s crop and nutritional diversity.
Speaking during Culinary Diplomacy in Africa, United States (US) Ambassador Virginia Palmer, said apart from the traditional nsima, the OFSP can change the country’s nutrition status as well as the economy.
Said Palmer: “I am proud Malawi is the first country on the continent experiencing the Culinary Diplomacy. The orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are what Malawi need when there is drought or floods, as these potatoes produce more.
“A lot of people don’t know the benefits of this kind of potato, but it is very good. Apart from household benefits, they can be a source of income for farmers as well as the country through export.”
During the Culinary Diplomacy dinner, Palmer treated a cross-section of guests ranging from expatriates, politicians and chiefs to orange-fleshed sweet potato dinner.
The event was led by Food Network-featured American chef Claudia Sansone and her partners Kevin Gouveia and Rebecca Gouveia.
Sansone worked with four young chefs from the Malawi Institute of Tourism to prepare nine different dishes featuring the highly nutritious OFSP as a key ingredient.
The dinner was a partnership between the US Embassy and the United Village Transformation, an American non-governmental organisation which supports farmers to plant the orange-fleshed sweet potato.
In a separate interview, Sansone echoed the ambassador’s remarks that Malawi should take farming of the potatoes seriously.
“It’s a secret treasure to be taken out to the country. There are so many children in the country suffering from stunted growth, mentally and physically as such it is vital for the country to start concentrating on food that is highly nutritious,” she said.