Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

#MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc exposes extent of sexual harrassment

Read more

FOCUS

Turkey's brain drain: Talents turn their backs to limited freedom and declining economy

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Internet giants: Too big to be taxed?

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

EU’s Karl-Heinz Lambertz: ‘Empowering regions and cities very important for Europe’s future’

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Client Liaison, Boyz II Men & Jessie Ware

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Iran deal decertified: Trump disavows nuclear agreement without walking away from it

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

British PM heads to Brussels amid Brexit standoff

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Why was Hollywood so quick to shun Harvey Weinstein and not others?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Squeal on your pig': French women share sexual assault experiences on Twitter

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

We meet the people behind fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Saturday at 7.20 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2013-05-27

Uganda: Rooting out hidden hunger

In Uganda, sweet potatoes have always been white, not orange, as is common in the west. The crucial difference is that the orange variety is high in vitamin A. If the locals can be convinced to adopt this unusually coloured variety, their children could stave off blindness and in many cases death.

'Not just any sweet potato, but an orange one'

The idea is simple enough: to breed better varieties of the crops Ugandans already eat. It's known as biofortification.

With the help of international research programme HarvestPlus, along with a $10 million boost from USAID, the orange sweet potato crop will be rolled out to 225,000 Ugandan farms over the next five years. Eventually this root, high in vitamin A, could be grown across the whole country, making it easier than ever for the population to access the crucial nutrient directly from their own back yard.

'If it's made as natural as possible... so much the better because Vitamin A can save lives'

t's estimated that one third of the under-five population in Africa is vitamin A deficient. This type of malnutrition is known as hidden hunger because the children may not necessarily be hungry, but rather lack the essential micronutrients to grow into healthy adults.

Uganda is fortunate in that the government administers free vitamin A supplements to the population, but reaching hundreds of millions of people in remote villages is both difficult and expensive.

On the other hand, once a seed is introduced into the agricultural landscape, it can be reproduced indefinitely.

'What if we could go a step further?'

While the orange sweet potato is bred conventionally to be high in vitamin A, another project is looking at how crops can be genetically modified to be more nutritious.

Just outside the capital Kampala, we meet the scientists behind Africa's first transgenic bananas, high in vitamin A.

The Ugandan government is currently debating a pro-GM bill which would allow these bananas to be released from quarantine, but not everyone is in favour of the technology, even in the name of better food.

By Mairead DUNDAS , Emilie COCHAUD , Marina BERTSCH

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-10-06 terrorism

Is a bioterrorist attack possible?

The threat of a biological terrorist attack is now longer merely science fiction. From anthrax to smallpox and Ebola, scientists worry terrorists could turn biological agents...

Read more

2017-09-19 Brazil

Amazon rainforest pays heavy price for Brazil's political crisis

After promising signs that Brazil's Amazon was recovering from a devastating period of deforestation, alarm bells have been set off again. The number of hectares of felled forest...

Read more

2017-09-05 USA

Not so green: Why cannabis has a hefty carbon footprint

As cannabis enjoys unprecedented acceptance in parts of the United States, many are asking whether this budding industry has considered its environmental impact. Growing just...

Read more

2017-08-29 Justin Trudeau

Canada's Trudeau under fire for environmental record

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been hailed as a climate hero. He was quick to allocate funds to green initiatives and presided over Canada’s signing of the Paris...

Read more

2017-06-20 Antarctica

Who benefits when the ice caps melt?

The Arctic and Antarctica are warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, with the amount of sea ice lost equal to the size of Mexico (when we compare what we have today to...

Read more