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A large-scale intervention to introduce orange sweet potato in rural Mozambique increases vitamin A intakes among children and women

  • Christine Hotz (a1) (a2), Cornelia Loechl (a3), Alan de Brauw (a4), Patrick Eozenou (a1), Daniel Gilligan (a4), Mourad Moursi (a1), Bernardino Munhaua (a3), Paul van Jaarsveld (a5), Alicia Carriquiry (a6) and J. V. Meenakshi (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114511005174
  • Published online: 10 October 2011
Abstract

β-Carotene-rich orange sweet potato (OSP) has been shown to improve vitamin A status of infants and young children in controlled efficacy trials and in a small-scale effectiveness study with intensive exposure to project inputs. However, the potential of this important food crop to reduce the risk of vitamin A deficiency in deficient populations will depend on the ability to distribute OSP vines and promote its household production and consumption on a large scale. In rural Mozambique, we conducted a randomised, controlled effectiveness study of a large-scale intervention to promote household-level OSP production and consumption using integrated agricultural, demand creation/behaviour change and marketing components. The following two intervention models were compared: a low-intensity (1 year) and a high-intensity (nearly 3 years) training model. The primary nutrition outcomes were OSP and vitamin A intakes by children 6–35 months and 3–5·5 years of age, and women. The intervention resulted in significant net increases in OSP intakes (model 1: 46, 48 and 97 g/d) and vitamin A intakes (model 1: 263, 254 and 492 μg retinol activity equivalents/d) among the younger children, older children and women, respectively. OSP accounted for 47–60 % of all sweet potato consumed and, among reference children, provided 80 % of total vitamin A intakes. A similar magnitude of impact was observed for both models, suggesting that group-level trainings in nutrition and agriculture could be limited to the first project year without compromising impact. Introduction of OSP to rural, sweet potato-producing communities in Mozambique is an effective way to improve vitamin A intakes.

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*Corresponding author: C. Hotz, email christinehotz.to@gmail.com
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British Journal of Nutrition
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