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Farmer holding sweet potato

Supporting and encouraging sweet potato business in Ghana

On Wednesday, October 20, the Kofi Annan Foundation participated in a sweet potato multi-stakeholder platform and awareness event hosted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The event was held in association with AGRA’s Demand Creation and Impact Scaling Project and the Ghana Sweetpotato Value Chain Association.

The event brought together stakeholders to review progress and explore avenues to strengthen sweet potato value chains in Ghana. The sustained development of orange-fleshed sweet potato, in particular, will stimulate rural economies, generate employment and help improve nutrition – including combating vitamin A deficiency in Ghana. Government agencies and actors shared ways they can help support and encourage sweet potato business in the region, and Ghanaian enterprises exhibited a selection of nutritious sweet potato products.

During the hybrid event, Fabian Lange, Senior Programme Manager at the Kofi Annan Foundation, shared progress from our Demand Creation and Impact Scaling Project.

I have seen first-hand how orange-fleshed sweet potato is enabling profits for smallholder farmers, creating employment opportunities along the value chain and contributing to women’s empowerment in food systems.
– Nane Annan

One of the local Ghanaian enterprises showcasing their OFSP products.

Kofi Annan Foundation board member Nane Annan provided opening remarks for the event; an excerpt is below:

“I would like to thank AGRA and its team for kindly hosting this important meeting.

There is a global movement in bio-fortified crops to which our sweet potato belongs. Many countries have included bio-fortification in their national policies of agriculture and nutrition. I am pleased that the Minister of Agriculture – during my visit to him a couple of years ago – included orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in the national budget and I remember fondly the positive remarks of his representative at our last meeting.

Across Africa, bio-fortified sweet potatoes are already contributing to providing healthier diets for rural and urban populations, creating jobs, and promoting entrepreneurship, often with the support from organisations such as CIP, GAIN, HarvestPlus, WFP and many others.

Today I am excited that in addition to our Ghanaian partners and stakeholders, we also have participants from across Africa who will share with us their experiences and lessons learned from working on orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.

I am sure that many of you already know that I am a huge fan of the bio-fortified, conventionally bred orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP).

It is a wonderful crop because of its health benefits, its climate benefits,/ and its economic potential/ that will benefit agribusinesses and smallholder farmers alike,/including women and youth.

I am convinced that OFSPs have great potential in contributing to food systems that support health and nutrition.

During my multiple visits to Ghana, I have seen first-hand how OFSPs are enabling profits for smallholder farmers, creating employment opportunities along the value chain and contributing to women’s empowerment in food systems.

For example, some years back, my husband and I visited Sogakofe, where a dynamic lady, a former homemaker, had set up a bakery to make the “Golden Bread” from OFSPs, which she sold at her roadside outlet.

I think this was an important lesson because, of course, it would be efficient to have large-scale processing units, but it could also provide the opportunity for a bottom-up process for dynamic persons /like the lady I met in Sogakope, to earn extra money.

Today, we will be looking specifically at the AGRA-supported Demand Creation and Impact Scaling Project for OFSPs in Ghana.

This one-year project started about six months ago and we are now halfway down the road, which is a good moment to take stock.

As this is a scaling project, we need to explore how to further increase production, as well as our processing capacity and market demand.

It would also be important to develop ideas how to make this project a lasting legacy, to gather the knowledge and know-how in an innovative platform owned by the stakeholders, like a sweet potato value chain organization.

…I am very sorry to miss out on the best part, I know that you who are in Accra will be able to taste some of the delicious foods at the booths after the meeting such as bread, biscuits, chips and I am sure traditional Ghanaian dishes made with OFSPs.

Dear friends, we have come a long way; I hope we maintain the positive momentum, apply the best practices, and work in close partnerships to scale-up OFSPs to help deliver more healthy diets in Ghana and beyond.”

A still from the hybrid event, featuring Kofi Annan Foundation board member Nane Annan (bottom left) and Senior Programme Manager Fabian Lange (top left). Also shown: AGRA Regional Director Forster Boateng (top right) and AGRA Associate Programme Officer Issac Conduah (bottom right)