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GMO-FREE PRODUCTS & SEEDS: Non-GE b-carotene rich sweet potatoes introduced on Solomon Islands



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   ORANGE SWEET POTATOES NOT JUST FOR AFRICA

SOURCE:  HarvestPlus, USA

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.harvestplus.org/content/orange-sweet-potatoes-not-just-africa

DATE:    19.08.2011

SUMMARY: "At HarvestPlus, we?re proud that orange sweet potatoes are being eaten by women and children throughout Uganda and Mozambique. But African farmers aren?t the only ones benefiting from this nutrient-rich crop?the Solomon Islands, a set of islands east of Papua New Guinea, is starting to see orange. Australian researcher Graham Lyons from Adelaide University leads a project in the Solomon Islands that has identified high-vitamin A varieties of sweet potato that are also high yielding, pest resistant, and suitable to local growing conditions."

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ORANGE SWEET POTATOES NOT JUST FOR AFRICA

At HarvestPlus, we?re proud that orange sweet potatoes (OSP) are being eaten by women and children throughout Uganda and Mozambique.

But African farmers aren?t the only ones benefiting from this nutrient-rich crop?the Solomon Islands, a set of islands east of Papua New Guinea, is starting to see orange.

Australian researcher Graham Lyons from Adelaide University leads a project in the Solomon Islands that has identified high-vitamin A varieties of sweet potato that are also high yielding, pest resistant, and suitable to local growing conditions. Prior to the project, some farmers grew a small amount of OSP, but they were often unaware of the nutritional benefits of this colorful crop.

In recent years, residents of the Solomon Islands have grown increasingly dependent on processed foods, which are contributing to rising rates of diabetes, chronic heart disease, and malnutrition.

To combat this growing reliance on less nutritious, imported foods, the project focused not only on distributing OSP vines to households but also on promoting consumption of a wide range of locally grown, vitamin A-rich foods. The education campaign included food posters, community plantings, and nutrition workshops.

The nutrition messages seem to be catching on as over 2,000 residents have attended the nutrition workshops, and more farmers are growing OSP and other vitamin A-rich crops.

The future for farmers in Solomon Islands looks bright?and orange!

The project received funding from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and HarvestPlus.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   IMPORT REPLACEMENT

SOURCE:  Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia (ABC)

AUTHOR:  Joanna McCarthy

URL:     http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2010/s2950364.htm

DATE:    10.07.2010

SUMMARY: "There?s nothing particularly unique about people being encouraged to eat more of the food they grow themselves, if not what?s grown locally. But in the Solomon Islands that push may help save lives. Islanders? diets have become overly dependent on heavily processed imported food at the expense of local fruit, vegetables and fish. But as Joanna McCarthy reports the result is an epidemic of diabetes, chronic disease and malnourishment."

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IMPORT REPLACEMENT

ANNE KRUGER, PRESENTER: There?s nothing particularly unique about people being encouraged to eat more of the food they grow themselves, if not what?s grown locally. But in the Solomon Islands that push may help save lives. Islanders? diets have become overly dependent on heavily processed imported food at the expense of local fruit, vegetables and fish. But as Joanna McCarthy reports the result is an epidemic of diabetes, chronic disease and malnourishment.

JOANNA MCCARTHY, REPORTER: This is one of the most remote parts of Solomon Islands. At the north-east end of the archipelago it?s more than 250 kilometres from the capital Honiara. Here most people rely on subsistence farming to survive, but a rising population is putting more pressure on the arable land and locals are turning to imported, processed foods. The result is a looming health crisis.

DR GRAHAM LYONS, ADELAIDE UNIVERSITY: It goes back perhaps 30 or 40 years. They seem to have got hooked on our Western style foods which is a pity. Too much of those foods predisposed to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, certain cancers. Hardly measurable 40 years ago some of those things and now we?re seeing plenty of them, even in fairly out of the way areas like we are here.

JOANNA MCCARTHY: Dr Graham Lyons spent most of his life as a farmer in South Australia. But he has a long standing love affair with the Solomons.

GRAHAM LYONS: When I left uni for the first time with an agriculture degree I particularly wanted to work in, I thought it would be New Guinea but there was an ad in the paper for cattle development officer for the Solomons, eastern Solomon. So I was posted out here to Kirra Kirra which is fairly isolated post for three years and it?s hooked me for life. I was a farmer for many years and towards the end of that phase I was looking for a new challenge and I?ve always been interested in health and medical things and nutrition so I started studying public health and my main focus there was on nutrition and its role in preventing or reducing the risk of various major diseases.

JOANNA MCCARTHY: Dr Lyons is now a research fellow at Adelaide University. He?s working on an aid program backed by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. Its aim is to improve food security in the Solomons.

GRAHAM LYONS: A country like the Solomons which has a bit of a shaky economy, I guess, should not be spending a lot of money importing foods which can be easily substituted and in much better form by locally grown foods.

Have you got any purple root one?

A sweet potato, whether it?s white or yellow or purple or whatever, is a much better product than rice and they can produce plenty of these root crops per hectare for next to nothing. Economically good sense to be doing this as well as very healthy.

JOANNA MCCARTHY: And yet it?s these foods that are dominating the Solomon?s diet. White rice, white flower and white sugar and high fat Western imports.

GRAHAM LYONS: A lot of them seem to think that something that comes in a packet from Australia or maybe China is better because it?s packaged and it?s been processed so it?s a more prestigious sort of food than their local food that they can grow in the garden.

JOANNA MCCARTHY: It?s a perception Dr Lyons is hoping to change here in this small village in Star Harbour. He?s working with local farmer and former school master Francis Wehi. Francis runs his own community based learning centre training locals in farmer methods as well as health and nutrition.

FRANCIS WEHI, TEACHER/FARMER: They will see that this is very important food security and because of the population increase, the food shortage and when we are not careful in how to manage the land and also having concern in planting and keeping up with the number of varieties of food then it?s likely earlier will catch up on food shortage, hunger and then, yeah, we go in poverty.

GRAHAM LYONS: We?re very pleased to be able to launch these posters, they?ve been two years in the making and we?ve had a lot of local consultation, some bananas from this island, from Makeira which is renowned for its banana diversity. Many of these have good levels of beta carotene so helps build up the vitamin A inside your body. Especially important for pregnant women and for small children. Helps fight off malaria. To help raise up people?s pride in these local foods, they?re much better than these ones that you buy from inside the shops in packages.

FRANCIS WEHI: They don?t know the value of it and when Graham come and we talk about the value, the beta carotene that it has that protects all us from sickness, people now start eating it, even raw, ripe carrot, they now accepting it and now most of them are planting it.

JOANNA MCCARTHY: And this could be the Pacific?s own super food. Packed with vitamin A, the orange flesh sweet potato could be crucial in the fight against malaria. Researchers say vitamin A deficiency is especially high among pregnant and nursing women, children and infants. But all it takes is just 100 grams a day of sweet potatoes to get all of your vitamin A needs.

GRAHAM LYONS: Sweet potato, producing more energy per hectare than any other root crop in an area like this where land is short, the arable land, the population increase here has been going on for a long time. It ends up putting pressure on the good arable land. It leads to disputes between groups when their gardens meet and so the sweet potato will give them more production per unit area of land than any other crop.

JOANNA MCCARTHY: And that means better use of the land and better health for the next generation of Solomon Islanders.

GRAHAM LYONS: Diet and the general lifestyle approach is really the key to reducing the incidence and prevalence of these diseases. Through this food, food which they can easily grow, it?s an easy thing to do. That?s the beauty of it.