UN agency backs launch of drought-resistant sweet potato in Somalia

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

A drought resistant variant of sweet potatoes which will help mitigate the impact of drought in Somalia is being introduced by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with Rural Education and Agriculture Development Organization (READO), a local NGO.

The sweet potato variant, commonly referred to as the orange flesh sweet potato (OFSP), is suitable for growth in regions with minimal rainfall.

READO Executive Director, Abdullahi Abdirahman Ali said the introduction of OFSP in Baidoa will be of great value to the community as it will help to improve the livelihood of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“We urge other international organizations and local partners to support the initiative, as this will help in mitigating drought issues in Somalia,” Ali said in a statement issued in Mogadishu on Friday.

The project mainly targets IDPs and the host community in Baidoa, who will be trained on how to grow the potatoes, before being issued with a set of vines that they can use on their own farms.

The OFSP is nutrient rich in Vitamin A and will help boost nutrition among malnourished children and within IDP households.
OFSP’s other benefits include increasing milk production among breast feeding mothers, OFSP flour to make baked products, and the plant’s edible leaves that can be consumed as vegetables and serve as fodder for livestock.

The IOM Somalia has been working with different stakeholders in Somalia to address food security and durable solutions since 2011.

Some notable projects to this end include agricultural farm inputs distributions, training on best agricultural farm practices, and provision of conditional and unconditional cash for work.

Xinhua