The Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA)

Published on 2 September 2010

Research Areas

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Start Date: 4 August 2009 | End Date: 31 July 2014


The Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA) is a 5-year initiative designed to improve the food security and livelihoods of poor families in Sub-Saharan Africa by exploiting the untapped potential of sweetpotato. It will develop the essential capacities, products, and methods to reposition sweetpotato in food economies of Sub-Saharan African countries to alleviate poverty and under nutrition, particularly among poor women and children.SASHA is a project of the International Potato Center (CIP). As part of the broader, 10-year, multi-donor Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative, the SASHA project is expected to set the groundwork for improving the lives of 10 million Sub-Saharan households in 10 years.

Program components


The focus of this component is on breeding a wide range of varieties with the combinations of traits suited to agro-ecological conditions and to consumer and producer demands. The point is to create an integrated breeding system akin to the one that exists for cereal breeding, but focused on the producer and consumer preferences of resource-poor women and children.


This component draws on biotechnology to develop weevil-resistant sweetpotato varieties for Sub-Saharan Africa. Sweetpotato weevils are the most important sweetpotato pest in the world – responsible for crop losses ranging from 60 to nearly 100% during pronounced drought. This situation may be critical during dry periods when sweetpotato is sometimes the only food available. With climate change predictions of an expanding dry season in Sub-Saharan Africa, the urgency of developing resistance to weevils will likely intensify.


The access to and maintenance of quality planting material is a struggle for smallholder farmers. This component involves developing and testing strategies to ensure effective multiplication, dissemination, and exchange of disease-free vines from which new plants will be propagated. It involves strategies to more efficiently link farmers with public sector distribution programs and integrate those with for-profit nurseries. It will examine which strategies assure women the best access to vines and whether women are as successful as men at commercially-oriented vine production.


This series of projects will examine broader institutional or market level issues affecting crop production, markets, potential market expansion (e.g., use of sweetpotato as animal feed), and scalable approaches for improving nutrition with sweetpotato. These projects will evaluate options that influence the capacity to scale up and achieve the outcomes on poverty and nutrition that are planned for the years following SASHA, in the longer, ten-year initiative.

Research Partners


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2 Responses to “The Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA)”

  1. Craig Nason says:


    I’m interested in talking with somebody about SASHA’s work in Uganda. I work for an organization called The Children of the Nile (TCON). Some of our primary work is providing women & widows in Northern Uganda with agricultural & farming resources to begin to sustain income. To date we have provided seed to over 100,000 widows in the Teso area. We are going to be investing more in Gulu in 2012, but we are always looking at the best seed and crops to provide these ladies. I don’t know what your process is to be able to invest and purchase your sweet potato crop, but it is something we would deeply consider for our network. We have a huge platform with poor women who are looking to improve their food security. It seems that your organization shares mutual goals. I hope we can talk soon!

  2. I will be returning to Ilula, Tanzania in late December to work at an orphanage (Ilula orphan Program). I would like to introduce them to planting the sweet potatoes on their farm. Might you be able to get us started? thanks.
    Dr. Steve DuCett

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