Sweet potato or ‘kumara’ (Ipomoea batatas [L]) belongs to the family Convulaceae and originated in the northwestern part of South America around 8000–6000 BC and in Central America.
The plant was initially discovered by the Chibhuan people around 3000 BC. Reports suggest that it was cultivated in the regions for many centuries before it moved to Africa and then introduced to Europe in the 16th century.
Today, sweet potatoes are cultivated in almost every part of the tropics and the temperate regions. The world’s largest producer is Asia where China produces more than 80 per cent of the world’s production.
There are over 400 different varieties in the world presently. Due to its high nutritional content and antioxidant elements such as beta-carotene, ascorbic acid and tocopherol, which protects against heart disease and cancers, sweet potato is used mostly as a staple food throughout the world.
It is processed into flour, starch, confectionery, alcohol and animal feed. The crop can be planted year round however July and December are considered to be the best time for planting.
Your sweet potatoes should be ready to harvest four to five months later. Gently dig them up from the ridges and the size of the potato should indicate its maturity. Be sure to cut new slips from the vines for replanting.
Sweet potato prices are always fluctuating in the market, be sure to try growing these in your backyards so that you can have these nutritious sweet potatoes for your family and even to share with friends.
Here are some steps to grow your own sweet potatoes at home:
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