The dual-purpose use of orange-fleshed sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas var. Bophelo) for improved nutritional food security

M.K. Nyathi*, C.P. Du Plooy, G.E. Van Halsema, T.J. Stomph, J.G. Annandale, P.C. Struik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) leaves can be utilised as a fresh green leafy vegetable, in addition to the traditional use of storage root; therefore, OFSP can be seen as a “dual-purpose’’ crop. We hypothesized that no vine harvesting combined with fertiliser application and irrigation will improve the storage root yield and selected plant parameters (water productivity, leaf and storage root nutrient concentrations, nutritional yield, and nutritional water productivity). The objectives of the study were to (i) evaluate the effect of vine harvesting on the selected plant parameters, and, (ii) assess the effect of irrigation regimes and soil fertilisation on these selected parameters. Field experiments were conducted at ARC-VOP, Pretoria, South Africa, during the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons. Treatments included irrigation regimes [well-watered (W1) and supplemental irrigation (W2)], soil fertilisation [well-fertilised (F1) and no fertiliser application (F2)], and vine harvesting [no vine harvesting (H1) and vine harvesting (H2)]. For the 2014/15 season, the well-watered regime improved total storage root yield (W1 = 13.0 t DM ha −1 ; W2 = 7.5 t DM ha −1 ). Under the practice of vine harvesting, soil fertility treatments did not affect (total dry storage root yield and dry marketable storage root yield) storage root production. Our results further revealed that vine harvesting reduced storage root nutrient concentrations (23% for iron; 14% for zinc; 12% for β-carotene). Nevertheless, total nutritional yields increased; the highest total nutritional yields for iron, zinc, and β-carotene were found under the water and nutrient input regime (W1F1). Assessments showed that boiled orange-fleshed sweet potato aboveground edible biomass could potentially contribute to the daily-recommended nutritional requirement of iron and vitamin A for a family of six people. More water was needed to meet the daily-recommended nutrient intake (iron, zinc, and vitamin A) with OFSP grown as a storage root crop only than when grown as a dual-purpose crop. Our results indicated that there is an opportunity to utilise OFSP as a dual-purpose crop for rural resource-poor households because total nutritional yields (iron, zinc, and β-carotene) and total nutritional water productivities (iron, zinc, and β-carotene) were improved. More research is needed to assess the effect of vine harvesting on a range of OFSP varieties and should be conducted on the farm. Rural resource-poor households are encouraged to produce OFSP for their own consumption and the surplus could be sold at the local market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-37
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2019


  • Green leafy vegetable
  • Micronutrient deficiency
  • Nutritional water productivity
  • Vitamin A
  • Water stress


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