Thursday, May 19, 2011
However, ECHO Asia carries select types of seed in bulk quantities; mostly green manure cover crops. As long as supplies last, ECHO network partners in Asia can purchase (to cover costs) between one hundred grams to a few kilos of such seed.
This particular combined order, over 60 kg total, was sent by bus from Chiang Mai to a city near the Lao border. Six agricultural development agencies will be testing these seeds on their farms and focus communities. Hopefully much more seed will be propagated from this large order.
However, through the years, I've rediscovered a new fondness for the root crop, especially the orange varieties. The sweet potato is poor man's food, and Asia grows its share. However, many are white flesh varieties which I find a bit bland.
Over the past year, the humble sweet potato has gotten some very favorable press. Last Thanksgiving, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist, Nicolas Kristof, wrote a glowing piece about the role of orange sweet potatoes specially bred to help fight hunger in Africa (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/25/opinion/25kristof.html). Orange sweet potatoes are packed with beta carotene, a natural source of vitamin A, much needed by the human body.
Fortunately, orange sweet potatoes are easy to grow in our part of tropical Asia.
Friends and neighbors got their share. In fact, we only had enough left over for one meal. Ellen sliced the tubers, added seasoning and baked them until they began to brown. Delicious.
Now, the locally-adapted orange sweet potato variety is growing in the demonstration garden at the ECHO Asia office. Interested persons who drop by the office can picked up a few slips to take home with them.