Sweetpotato is an important staple food in developing countries. Major limitations of this crop are its short shelf life under tropical conditions (where refrigeration is not economically feasible) and field infestation by sweetpotato weevil (Cylas sp.). The NRI is involved in collaborative projects in east Africa to improve storage and processing of sweetpotato and investigate methods for controlling Cylas infestation. The results of a project to investigate the potential for breeding for more storable cultivars are presented. Locally available cultivars have been assessed for rates of deterioration (fresh-weight loss and rotting) under normal marketing conditions at five sites in Tanzania over two seasons. Initial data show that rates of deterioration vary considerably by cultivar but are consistent over seasons and sites. The rate of weight loss is a good indicator of perishability and therefore provides a simple means of cultivar selector. The data show that cultivars with low drymatter content deteriorate less rapidly.
Rees D., Van Oirschot Q.E.A, and Aked J. Addressing the problems of sweet potato in East Africa. HortScience (2001) 34 (5) 838 pp.