Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REPORTERS

Libya in search of unity

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Burundi's presidential election: our team follow incumbent Nkurunziza's campaign trail

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Vote "No" for dignity and democracy ≠OXI

Read more

THE DEBATE

Turkey's Border Bother: Ankara wary of emboldened Kurds (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Turkey's Border Bother: Ankara wary of emboldened Kurds (part 1)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Tunisia Attack: UK ponders airstrike in Syria; Uber Popped: service suspended after French taxi revolt

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Greece's Choice: Europe holds its breath over Sunday's referendum

Read more

#TECH 24

Testing robots to play, snuggle and learn

Read more

#THE 51%

Jordan: Where a rapist can marry his victim

Read more

We travel to meet the people behind fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Saturday at 6.10 pm.

DOWN TO EARTH

DOWN TO EARTH

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

2015-06-13 Paris

Smog-battling Paris aims to show way at climate summit

As host of this year’s major COP 21 climate conference, all eyes will be on Paris. But is the French capital fit for the job?

Read more

2015-05-02 Ethiopia

Ethiopia's green renaissance

Ethiopia is already creating millionaires at the fastest rate in Africa and thanks to the largest dam on the continent, renewable energy will continue to fuel its growth.

Read more

2015-03-15 agriculture

Agriculture: When farms turn into factories

It's time to end the myth once and for all. The farms in children's books are history. Today's agriculture is increasingly industrial and only those who adapt will survive. In...

Read more

2015-02-15 carbon emissions

Forests worth more alive than dead

We are Down to Earth in Peru on a police patrol to La Pampa, a wasteland on the outskirts of the Amazon. In the last six years 50,000 hectares of rainforest have been obliterated...

Read more

2014-11-16 Mexico

Drought emergency

After one of the driest periods in history, 2014 is on track to be the hottest since records began. How do we adapt to these extreme climate conditions which may be here to stay ?

Read more