Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

McCain's health vote backlash

Read more

THE DEBATE

The Macron Touch: Can the new French President be Libya's Peacemaker?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Maduro's regime is a criminal dictatorship'

Read more

FOCUS

Kenyan authorities step up security amid Al-Shabaab threat

Read more

ENCORE!

Rock icons Midnight Oil on politics, passion and their long-awaited comeback

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Sleep tight beautiful boy': Charlie Gard's parents to take him off life support

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

South Africa's 'Guptaleaks': New website aims to reveal extent of 'state capture'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Building walls: French protesters block access to hotel migrant shelter

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Google parent company's profits hit by EU fine

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

2017-06-20 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

2017-06-09 Mars

Could Mars be our Planet B?

As humans continue to ravage Earth, is it time to consider other planets as an alternative home? NASA and a host of private organisations - including Elon Musk's SpaceX - are in...

Read more

2017-05-26 Donald Trump

Trump has already quit the Paris climate deal - just not publicly

It doesn't really matter whether US President Donald Trump pulls his country out of the world's first binding agreement on climate change. All of his actions since taking office...

Read more

2017-05-09 France

Imagining a world without pesticides

After being used for decades by modern intensive agriculture, pesticides are now showing their limits. In southern Africa, a kind of pesticide-resistant caterpillar is destroying...

Read more

2017-04-24 tourism

How green is ecotourism?

In the past few decades, ecotourism has become increasingly popular but still represents only a fraction of the tourist industry: just 5%, according to the UN. For many nature...

Read more