Beating Vitamin A Deficiency
In Africa, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are often thought of as a more colorful alternative to the white-fleshed variety. These sweet potatoes are a rich source of vitamin A precursors. Vitamin A is essential for eye health and the proper functioning of the immune system. A lack of this nutrient can increase the risk of illness and death from diseases such as malaria and measles. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 40% of children under five are at risk of Vitamin A deficiency. Increasing the consumption of vitamin A-rich food is critically important for their survival.
The Helen Keller International (HKI) is working with farmer groups in Tanzania to secure a healthy future for children through the Eat Orange! Project. In 2009, the Monsanto Fund awarded HKI $200,000 toward improving nutrition in Tanzania by promoting and facilitating the production and consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in two districts in the Mwanza region.
The goal of the project is to improve the nutritional status of children under five, as well as pregnant and lactating mothers. The Monsanto Fund supports projects that provide education and training to increase healthy eating habits.