Sweet potato is a food crop that is increasingly being recognized as having an important role to play in improving household and national food security, health and livelihoods of poor families in sub-Saharan Africa. A baseline survey was conducted in six states in Southwest Nigeria on traditional processing methods of sweet potato flour for amala (a stiff paste meal), consumption status of sweet potato amala and level of awareness of orange-fleshed sweet potato variety. Three hundred respondents comprising of 50 respondents from each state were randomly sampled where structured questionnaires were administered using direct interviews, observations and quantitative measurements. The data were analysed using Microsoft Excel and SPSS 17.0 statistical software. Only 7.6% of the respondents engaged in processing, with location (states), rather than gender or education status being a significant determinant (χ2= 15.350, p < 0.01) of which people are engaged in sweet potato processing as the activity was found to be concentrated in two states. Soaking and parboiling were the two processing methods used with consumers, preferring amala from the soaking method. Consumption of sweet potato amala was low (34%) and influenced mostly by awareness and availability rather than by sensory appeal or cost. Awareness of the existence of orange-fleshed sweet potato, a pro-vitamin A rich variety, was low (16%) while knowledge of its health benefits was almost non-existent (98.3%). This study showed the following: there are prospects for increased processing of sweet potato flour if efforts are directed towards its promotion; each of the two methods used in the production of flour resulted in different sensory qualities of amala; the lower consumption of sweet potato amala was due to competition from yam and cassava amala which are more readily available and widely accepted; strategic and sustainable efforts should target Nigeria for the promotion of orange-fleshed sweet potato not only by creating awareness of its health benefits but more importantly by making it available. These issues need to be addressed if sweet potato is to play its role as a food and nutritional security crop.
Online ISSN: 1459-0263Year: 2013, Vol. 11, Issue 3&4, pages 67-71.Publisher: WFL.
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