Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Affordable, Delicious and Nutritious: Scaling OFSP in Malawi

This is the second installment in a three-part series about scaling orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) availability through value added processing and focuses on the specifics of how Universal Industries Limited in Malawi is working with USAID to scale up affordable OFSP products. Check out the first post in the series here!

The potential for biofortified OFSP to improve nutrition and food security is clear: these potatoes are more flavorful and as easily grown as traditional white sweet potatoes, and production among smallholder farmers across Africa is growing. In Malawi, where 60 percent of children under the age of five are vitamin A-deficient, OFSP can play a particularly important role. Despite that fact, OFSP is proving difficult to scale there just as it is across the rest of Africa. However, Universal Industries and the International Potato Center (CIP) are addressing this scaling challenge.  

Affordable access to OFSP products?

How are Universal and CIP making OFSP products affordable and accessible? Does developing value-added products help increase farmers’ production by creating a market while also adding vitamin A to the range of commercially available products? How are value-added products helpful for farmers, consumers and Universal? These are just a few of the questions addressed in the attached case study. The short of it, however, is this:

  • Universal is working with CIP to source varieties of sweet potato that they can use to develop value-added OFSP product lines to its existing operations. In so doing, Universal is developing a strong market for smallholder farmers’ sweet potatoes.
  • Universal is using the OFSP to make puree and flour, which are then used as nutritional ingredients in foods such as bread. Using locally sourced OFSP flour in bread also reduces the price of bread since wheat flour is imported, making it less expensive for Malawian bakeries to produce it.
  • Universal sells multiple products for varying markets including affordable, low-cost options for smallholder markets and niche brands for middle- and upper-class consumers in supermarkets. In so doing, the sweet potato product lines become profitable and more people have access to vitamin A.  

Is affordable access sustainable?

Universal has now become a major sweet potato buyer at harvest time, including purchasing sweet potatoes that otherwise may be left unsold. Its business innovations are resulting in reduced sweet potato postharvest losses, new market opportunities for smallholder farmers, and nutritional food products for rural and urban consumers. Universal is hitting its stride in making OFSP profitable and thus a regular product line. This means that the ready market will remain as will commercial access.

Want more information?

To get the full details and to see how you might be able to integrate market linkages for OFSP production by partnering with local food companies, read the attached case study and feel free to use the comments below to ask questions, provide feedback and discuss challenges and opportunities for scaling OFSP!

Check back for the final installment to the series from CIP!