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FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SERIES

SWEET POTATO: POST HARVEST


ASPECTS IN FOOD, FEED AND INDUSTRY

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Sweet Potato: Post Harvest Aspects in Food, Feed and Industry


Ramesh C. Ray and K.I. Tomlins (Editors)
2010. ISBN: 978-1-60876-343-6
FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SERIES

SWEET POTATO: POST HARVEST


ASPECTS IN FOOD, FEED AND INDUSTRY

RAMESH C. RAY
AND
K.I. TOMLINS
EDITORS

Nova Science Publishers, Inc.


New York
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA

Sweet potato : post harvest aspects in food, feed and industry / [edited by] Ramesh C. Ray, K.I.
Tomlins.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-62100-506-3 (eBook)
1. Sweet potatoes--Postharvest technology. 2. Sweet potatoes--Utilization. 3. Sweet potato
industry. I. Ray, Ramesh C. II. Tomlins, K. I.
SB211.S9S938 2009
635'.226--dc22
2009030340

Published by Nova Science Publishers, Inc.  New York


CONTENTS

Preface vii
About the Editors 9
Chapter 1 Sweet Potato Growth, Development, Production and Utilization:
Overview 1
Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray
Chapter 2 Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases
of Sweet Potato 27
Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde, K. Rajasekhara Rao
and Keith I. Tomlins
Chapter 3 Physiological Functions and Utilization of Sweet Potato 59
Makoto Yoshimoto
Chapter 4 Sweet Potato Starch 91
S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas
Chapter 5 Sweet Potato Purees and Dehydrated Powders for Functional
Food Ingredients 117
Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula
Chapter 6 Bio-Processing of Sweet Potato into Food, Feed and Bio-Ethanol 163
Ramesh C. Ray, Samir K. Naskar and Keith I. Tomlins
Chapter 7 Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal
Feed Systems 193
Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin
Chapter 8 Sweet Potato in Animal Nutrition 225
Ibisime Etela
Chapter 9 Sweet Potato and Pigs: Traditional Relationships, Current Practices
and Future Prospects 245
Dai Peters
vi Contents

Chapter 10 Sweet Potato Utilization, Storage, Small-Scale Processing


and Marketing in Africa 271
Keith Tomlins, Debbie Rees, Claire Coote, Aurélie Bechoff,
Julius Okwadi, Jaquelino Massingue, Ramesh Ray
and Andrew Westby
Index 295
PREFACE
Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.), the seventh most important food crop after wheat,
rice, maize, potato, barley and cassava, is a staple food in many developing countries of the
tropics and sub-tropics, and also serves as animal feed and raw material for several food and
feed based industries. This New World crop has high biological efficiency of converting solar
energy into edible energy (152 MJ/ha/day) in the form of tuberous (storage) roots and could
be the food for the ever growing human population in future.
Asia leads in area (60.75%) and production (86.89%) of sweet potato in the world. Sweet
potato was originally a herbaceous perennial but was domesticated as an annual and grows
best in moderately warm temperature of 21-26oC. It requires light textured soil with the
optimum pH of 5.5 -6.5 for good growth of the crop. Current research has focused on
development of high starch, high dry matter and coloured (ß-carotene and anthocyanin-rich)
sweet potato varieties for industrial applications in addition to traditional usage as food and
animal feed. The first chapter in this book by Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh Ray
provide an overview on the growth, development, production and utilization of sweet potato.
Sweet potato storage roots are subjected to several forms of post harvest losses during
harvest, transportation from farmers‘ field to market and storage. These are due to mechanical
injury, weight loss, sprouting, diseases and pests. Chapters 2 and 10 in this book deal with
these aspects in detail. In Chapter 2, Ramesh Ray and colleagues have discussed the various
methods (curing, fungicide treatment, bio-control by antagonistic yeasts, gamma irradiation
and storage in controlled atmospheric conditions) that could reduce fungal rot and enhance
shelf-life of sweet potato roots in storage. Keith Tomlins and his colleagues, in Chapter 10,
have attributed the main challenges for the crop in Africa with respect to post-harvest issues
which include the management of storage pests, particularly sweet potato weevils (Cylas
spp.), increasing yields and improving the marketing systems along the value chain.
Sweet potato contains various kinds of physiologically functional components such as
polyphenolics, anthocyanins, fibres and carotenoids in roots and leaves. These physiological
functions include the potential for anti-oxidation, anti-diabetics and anti-hypertension. The
sweet potato roots or leaves with these functions are commercially used as materials of
confectionary, noodles, alcoholic drinks and beverage. In Chapter 3, Makoto Yoshimoto,
reviews the recent research work on this topic, mainly concerned with the technological
concepts on value addition to ß-carotene and anthocyanin rich sweet potato varieties.
Starch is one of the major biochemical components of root and tuber crops. In Chapter 4,
Subramony Moorthy and Shanavas have discussed the different characteristics of sweet
viii Preface

potato starch and its potential applications. Processing technologies have been developed in
various parts of the World to convert sweet potatoes into purees and dehydrated forms that
can be used as functional ingredients in numerous food products. In Chapter 5, Van Den
Truong and Ramesh Avula, review the processing operations involved in these technologies
and their effect on quality, storability, nutritional values and rheological properties of sweet
potato purees and powders/flours. With high level of carbohydrate, ß-carotene (orange-
fleshed varieties) and anthocyanin (purple-fleshed varieties), sweet potato purees and
dehydrated forms can be used as functional ingredients to impart desired textural properties
and phytonutrient content in processed food products.
Bio-processing (fermentation) of sweet potato offers novel opportunities to
commercialize this crop by developing functional foods and beverages such as sour starch,
lacto-pickle, soy sauce, acidophilus milk, etc. through either solid-state or submerged
fermentation. Sochu, traditional Japanese distilled liquor with an alcohol content of 20-25% is
made from sweet potato. Sweet potato flour and basassae are used as substrates for
production of microbial enzymes, organic acids, sodium glutamate, etc. Ramesh Ray and
colleagues have discussed these aspects in depth in Chapter 6.
In Chapter 7, Adelia Bovell-Benjamin has reviewed the biochemical, bioactive and
functional properties of sweet potato relevant to human health, industry and animal feed
systems. Sweet potato starch has industrial applications such as sweeteners, citric acid,
beverage, noodle production, industrial alcohol and derived products such as glucose and
maltose syrups.
Two chapters in this book have been exclusively devoted to the utilization of sweet
potato as animal feed in traditional livestock system. Ibisime Etela, in Chapter 6, has given an
in-depth description on the use of sweet potato roots and leaves as food for cattle, goat, pig
and sheep, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Dai Peters, in Chapter 9, has
described four case studies in four different countries (China, Vietnam, Indonesia and
Uganda) on the utilization of sweet potato in pig feed systems. She emphasizes that though
these four systems share the same characteristics of feeding sweet potato to pigs, the
agronomic, ecological, marketing and even socio-cultural contexts vary greatly resulting in
distinctly different production and marketing approaches.
The subject, post harvest aspects of sweet potato in food, feed and industries, are a topic
of current interest. This book attempts to highlight some of the more significant aspects of the
subject within a framework of 10 chapters. We are very grateful to the author(s) of each
chapter for clearly presenting recent developments and research perspectives. We also
appreciate the promptness of the individual authors in providing and processing their
manuscripts.

Ramesh C. Ray
Keith I. Tomlins
ABOUT THE EDITORS
Dr. Ramesh C. Ray, Principal Scientist (Microbiology) and Head, Regional Centre of Central
Tuber Crops Research Institute, Bhubaneswar, India is well known for his research work
in the field of post harvest technology and bioprocessing of tropical root and tuber crops
into value-added products. He has published 95 original research papers and 8 reviews
and concept papers in peer reviewed national and international journals, and 30 book
chapters. He has developed several foods and industrial processes and is co-inventor of 3
patents. He has edited/co-edited 8 books and is a member of the editorial board of
international journals like Annals of Tropical Research and Journal of Environmental
Biology. He has been currently selected as American Society of Microbiology
International Professor from India.

Dr. Keith I. Tomlins is a Reader in Food Safety and Quality at the Natural Resources Institute
of the University of Greenwich, UK (www.nri.org). He has experience in international
project management, research and consultancy in food safety and quality management of
food and drink products worldwide and is a member of the University of Greenwich
Research Ethics Committee. He is also an external consultant for a London based marine
investigation company. He is the author or co-author of 35 publications in international
peer reviewed journals, 24 conference papers and three books. With reference to sweet
potato, he is currently (as of 2009) the councilor for publications of the International
Society for Tropical Root Crops (www.istrc.org). His expertise in sweet potato research
involves the post-harvest aspects in sub-Saharan Africa. He is currently involved in the
Harvestplus Reaching End Users project in Uganda and Mozambique which seeks to
increase consumption of provitamin A sweet potato.
In: Sweet Potato: Post Harvest Aspects in Food ISBN 978-1-60876-343-6
Editors: R. C. Ray and K. I. Tomlins © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Chapter 1

SWEET POTATO GROWTH, DEVELOPMENT,


PRODUCTION AND UTILIZATION: OVERVIEW

Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray**


Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (Regional Centre),
Bhubaneswar - 751019, India

ABSTRACT
Sweet potato, a staple food in many of the developing countries of tropics and sub-
tropics also serves as animal feed and raw material for the industries. This New World
crop has high biological efficiency of converting solar energy into edible energy. It has
spread into Europe, Africa, India, and East Indies through the batatas line and to the
Philippines from Central and South America through the kamote line. Asia leads in area
(60.75%) and production (86.89%) of sweet potato in the world. Sweet potato, originally
the herbaceous perennial is domesticated as an annual and grows best in moderately
warm climate and temperature of 21-26° C. It requires light textured soil with the
optimum pH of 5.5-6.5. The crop is grown on ridges, mounds and flat beds depending
upon the soil and agro-climatic conditions. As sweet potato removes appreciable
quantities of plant nutrients, incorporation of 5 tonnes/ha of organic manure and a
moderate dose of inorganic fertilizers (50-75 kg N, 25-50 kg P2O5 and 75-100 kg K2O/ha)
is recommended. Sweet potato requires one or two weeding followed by earthing up for
easing storage root bulking. Dry season planting always produces higher storage root
yield than wet season planting but it requires supplemental irrigation. Sweet potato
weevil, which is causing losses in certain parts of the world, can be reduced by following
integrated pest management techniques. Virus diseases can be avoided by selecting
disease free quality planting materials. Development of high starch, dry matter and
coloured sweet potato varieties has opened up new vistas in industrial applications apart
from traditional usage as food and feed. Sweet potato starch is used in textiles, paper and
food manufacturing industries, preparation of liquid glucose and adhesives. ß-carotene
and anthocyanins are extracted from coloured sweet potatoes, which are used as food
colorants and anti-oxidants. Coloured sweet potato flour is used in various bakery and
noodles preparations. Enzymes like sporamin and ß-amyalse are also produced from
sweet potato storage roots. Sweet potato leaves are rich in polyphenols (mainly


Fax: +91-674-2470528; Email: mnedun@gmail.com
2 Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray

chlorogenic acid and iso-chlorogenic acid) which have strong suppressive effects on food
poisoning microorganisms. The leaves can be used for food, green drink like tea or
medicine.

ABBREVIATIONS
CIP International Potato Centre;
CTCRI Central Tuber Crops research Institute;
IPM Integrated Pest Management;
IW Irrigation water
CPE Cumulative Pan Evaporation
SPFMV sweet potato feathery mottle virus;
USRDA United States Recommended Dietary Allowance

INTRODUCTION
Sweet potato [Ipomoea batatas L. (Lam.)] is the seventh most important food crop and
next to cassava among the root and tuber crops grown in the world (Ray and Ravi, 2005). It is
cultivated through out the tropics, subtropics and warmer temperate regions. Sweet potato is a
staple food in many of the developing countries. It is consumed both fresh and in the
processed forms. It is also used as animal feed. It has great potential as a raw material for the
manufacture of a wide range of industrial products such as starch, liquid glucose, citric acid,
mono-sodium glutamate and ethanol (Woolfe, 1992).
Sweet potato is expected to play a vital role in combating the food shortages and
malnutrition that may increasingly occur as a result of population growth and pressure on land
utilization (Naskar et al., 2008b). It can produce high amount of energy per unit area per unit
time. On a world scale sweet potato provides significant amounts of energy and protein
(Table 1). Its production efficiency of edible energy and protein is outstanding in the
developing world. The average energy output/input ratios for rice and sweet potato on Fijian
farms were 17:1 and 60:1, respectively (Norman et al., 1984). The protein content of sweet
potato on a fresh weight basis is low, but the average protein production/ha from sweet potato
in the tropics is same that of cereals, beans and chickpeas (Yamakawa, 1997).
Sweet potato is also having additional advantages. It does not normally require high
levels of inputs. Weeding by either cultivation practices or herbicides is minimum in sweet
potato as the vines grow very rapidly and cover the ground within few weeks after planting.
Application of insecticides and fungicides are often not necessary as with the exception of
sweet potato weevil, most insect damage is negligible and the fungal diseases are not usually
a problem in growing areas (Naskar, 2006). Total crop failure is very rare owing to biotic and
abiotic stresses and many farmers plant sweet potato as an insurance crop against food
emergency (Yamakawa, 1997).
Sweet potato in spite of having many desirable traits, its use as a staple food has declined
in many countries. The low status accorded to both roots and vines due to their image as a
‗subsistence‘ crop, a ―poor mans‘ food‖ or something to be eaten only at the times of dire
Sweet Potato Growth, Development, Production and Utilization: Overview 3

need such as famine or war may have been a limiting factor in their exploitation as foods of
high nutritional quality (Vinning, 2003).

Table 1. Protein yield of various food crops

Crop Average tropical yield Protein (%) Average protein yield


(t/ha) (kg/ha)
Cassava 9 1.0 90
Sweet potato 7 1.6 110
Yams 7 2.0 140
Bananas 13 1.1 143
Soybean .>1 38.0 505
Groundnut <1 25.5 217
Beans <1 22.0 132
Chickpea <1 20.0 132
Rice 2 7.5 151
Maize >1 9.5 118
Sorghum 1 10.5 87
Millet <1 10.5 58
Adapted from: Norman et al., (1984).

In worldwide, sweet potato research has been neglected in favour of the more prestigious
crops like cereals, pulses and plantation crops or other export oriented cash crops. Bulkiness,
problems of storage and transportation in tropical conditions, relatively low cash value/unit
weight have resulted in a very low level of importance in international trade and the bulk of
the crop is still used or sold for domestic purposes (Ray and Ravi, 2005).

ORIGIN AND DISTRIBUTION


Sweet potato is a New World crop and originated from either in the Central or South
American lowlands (Woolfe, 1992). The dried roots, the oldest remain so far discovered are
those from the caves of Chilca canyon of Peru (Engel, 1970), which have radiocarbon dated
at 8000-10000 years old. Ugent et al. (1983) reported the archaeological discovery of actual
remains of cultivated sweet potato from the Casma valley of Peru, dated at approximately
2000 B.C.
Sweet potato spread in historic times was by two lines of transmission: (1) the batatas
line, which followed on from the Spanish introduction into Europe continuing after 1500 AD.
By the transfer of European grown clones to Africa, India, and the east Indies through
Portuguese exploration, and (2) the kamote line whereby Mexican clones were carried to the
Philippines by Spanish trading galleons (Woolfe, 1992).
The common names of sweet potato such as batatas, tata, mbatata, etc. indicated that
sweet potato was introduced into Africa by the Portuguese; the other common names such as
bombe, bambai, bambaira and so on associated with the Indian city, Bombay acquired by the
British in 1662 may be linked to a later spread of the plant by the British colonial influence
(Woolfe, 1992). Also in India and Southeast Asia, sweet potato was introduced in their local
4 Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray

names. For example, in Malaysia it is called Spanish tuber, in the Philippines camote, in
Guam both camote and batat, and in Ambon, Timor and northern Moluccas batata and their
derivative words (Woolfe, 1992).
Sweet potato is grown 40° N to 32° S and from sea level to almost 3000 m above mean
sea level. In South America, it is grown in the Andes Mountains, in the Amazon jungle, on
the great sub-tropical and temperate plains of the Southern zone and under irrigation in the
desert on the Pacific coast. In the Caribbean and the Pacific, it is grown on small tropical
islands, in Africa at mid elevations and in parts of the tropical low lands and in Asia at a wide
range of altitudes and from temperate to tropical zones. Many of the ecosystems where sweet
potato grown have poor degraded soils that support very few other crops (Yamakawa, 1997).

AREA AND PRODUCTION


Sweet potato was grown in 8.996 million ha in the world during 2006 (FAOSTAT, 2008)
(Table 2). Asian countries account nearly 5.466 million ha (60.75%) followed by Africa
3.154 million ha (35.06%). In America, Oceania and Europe, it is cultivated in 0.256 (2.85%),
0.113 (1.26%) and 0.006 million ha (0.08%). The world average sweet potato root yield was
13729 kg/ha. However, the highest productivity of 19634 kg/ha was found in Asia. In Asia,
regions of Western and Eastern Asia produced average yield of 42630 and 21219 kg/ha,
respectively. The average yield of Southern Asia (8873 kg/ha) and South-Eastern Asia (8038
kg/ha) was below the world average. The productivity in America and Europe was higher
(10066 and 11937 kg/ha, respectively) than average productivity of the world (FAOSTAT,
2008). The average yield of Africa and Oceania was very low (FAOSTAT, 2008). In the
world the total sweet potato root production was 123.51 million tonnes, in which Africa,
America, Asia, Europe and Oceania contribute 12.9 (10.5%), 2.6 (2.1%), 107.3 (86.9%), 0.1
(0.1%) and 0.6 (0.5%) million tonnes, respectively during 2006 (Table 2). The maximum
amount of roots (67%) is used as forage for animal production. Only 33 % of the produce is
used for food and product development.

GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT


Sweet potato was first described by Linnaeus as Convolvulus batatas in 1753. However,
in 1791 Lamarck classified this species within the genus Ipomoea on the basis of the stigma
shape and the surface of the pollen grains. Therefore, the name was changed to Ipomoea
batatas (L.) Lam. The systematic classification of the sweet potato is as follow:

Family Convolvulaceae
Tribe Ipomoeae
Genus Ipomoea
Sub-genus Quamoclit
Section Batatas
Species Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.
Table 2. Current sweet potato production from selected countries in different regions of the world based on 2006 FAO survey

Region / country Tuber production Percent of Feed resource (tonnes)*


Area (ha) Yield (kg/ha) Quantity (tonnes) world Forage By-product
World 8,996,472.00 13,728.69 123,509,771.00 100.00 82,751,546.57 40,758,224.43
Africa
Eastern Africa 1,634,337.00 4,399.46 7,190,202.00 5.82 4,817,435.34 2,372,766.66
Middle Africa 274,671.00 4,434.55 1,218,042.00 0.99 816,088.14 401,953.86
Northern Africa 11,255.00 28,411.64 319,773.00 0.26 214,247.91 105,525.09
Southern Africa 16,010.00 3,099.94 49,630.00 0.04 33,252.10 16,377.90
Western Africa 1,217,974.00 3,387.55 4,125,950.00 3.34 2,764,386.50 1,361,563.50
Total for Africa 3,154,247.00 4,090.86 12,903,597.00 10.45 8,645,409.99 4,258,187.01
America
Northern America 35,139.00 20,976.72 737,101.00 0.60 493,857.67 243,243.33
Central America 3,144.00 20,027.67 62,967.00 0.05 42,187.89 20,779.11
Latin America 109,074.00 11,986.57 1,307,423.00 1.06 875,973.41 431,449.59
Caribbean 112,416.00 4,791.77 538,671.00 0.44 360,909.57 177,761.43
Total for America 256,629.00 10,065.87 2,583,195.00 2.09 1,730,740.65 852,454.35
Asia
Central Asia na na na na na na
Eastern Asia 4,797,503.00 21,218.72 101,796,861.00 82.42 68,203,896.87 33,592,964.13
Southern Asia 150,311.00 8,873.38 1,333,767.00 1.08 893,623.89 440,143.11
South-Eastern Asia 517,389.00 8,037.75 4,158,641.00 3.37 2,786,289.47 1,372,351.53
Western Asia 714.00 42,630.25 30,438.00 0.02 20,393.46 10,044.54
Total for Asia 5,465,917.00 19,634.35 107,319,707.00 86.89 71,904,203.69 35,415,503.31
Europe
Eastern Europe na na na na na na
Northern Europe na na na na na na
Southern Europe 6,479.00 11,937.34 77,342.00 0.06 51,819.14 25,522.86
Western Europe na na na na na na
Total for Europe 6,479.00 11,937.34 77,342.00 0.06 51,819.14 25,522.86
Oceania
Australia and New Zealand 1,425.00 16,376.84 23,337.00 0.02 15,635.79 7,701.21
Melanesia 110,678.00 5,346.67 591,759.00 0.48 396,478.53 195,280.47
Micronesia 515.00 6,341.75 3,266.00 0.003 2,188.22 1,077.78
Polynesia 582.00 13,003.44 7,568.00 0.01 5,070.56 2,497.44
Total for Oceania 113,200.00 5,529.42 625,930.00 0.51 419,373.10 206,556.90
Source: FAOSTAT [2008]. *Estimated as: Forage = 67 percent of ―Quantity‖; By-product = 33 percent of ―Quantity‖.
6 Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray

The section Batatas have 13 wild species that are considered to be related to the sweet
potato. These are: I. cordatotriloba (I. trichocarpa), I. cynanchifolia, I. grandifolia, I.
lacunose, I. leucantha, I. littoralis, I. ramosissima, I. tabascana, I. tenuissima, I. tiliacea, I.
trifida, I. triloba and I. umbraticola.
In sweet potato identification and delineation of individual genome was difficult due the
complex nature of genomes and high polyploidy. Owing to this difficulty the species which
had contributed to the evolution of sweet potato could not be easily located (Tandang and
Alfonso, 2006). Sweet potato is a hexaploid plant, 2n= 6x = 90. This indicates that the basic
chromosome number is x = 15. In section Batatas diploid I. leucantha (BB) and tetraploid I.
littoralis (BBBB) have been established to be the probable progenitors of sweet potato
(BBBBBB). I. leucantha could be derived from natural crosses between I. cordatotriloba and
I. lacunose (Austin, 1977). I. littoralis and I. tiliacea are tetraploids. The other species are
diploids with 2n = 2x = 30. I. trifida includes plants that can be 2x, 3x, 4x and 6x and viewed
as the probable wild ancestor. The ploidy level of I. tabascana and I. umbraticola is still
unknown (Huaman, 1992).
The sweet potato is an herbaceous perennial plant. However, it is domesticated as annual
plant by vegetative propagation using either vine cuttings or storage roots. The prostate vine
system of sweet potato expands very rapidly horizontally on the ground with erect/semi-
erect/spreading/very spreading growth habit.
The vegetative propagated sweet potato produces adventitious roots that develop into
primary fibrous roots which are branched into lateral roots. The fibrous roots absorb nutrients
and water, and anchor the plant as well as store the photosynthetic products. As the plant
matures, lateral roots develop into storage roots by accumulating photosynthates. However,
due to lignification some roots remain thick pencil roots. Plants grown from true seed form a
typical tap root with lateral branches. Later on, the central tap root functions as storage root
(Figure 1).

Figure 1.
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 7

Sweet potato stem is cylindrical in shape with varied colour and diameter and runs about
1-5 m depends upon cultivar and the availability of water in the soil. Apical shoots and stems
vary from glabrous to very pubescent. The internode length can vary from short to very long.
The leaves are simple and spirally arranged on the stem in a pattern known as 2/5 phyllotaxis.
The leaf lamina can be entire, toothed or lobed. The base of the leaf lamina generally has two
lobes that can be almost straight or rounded. The general shape of the leaves varies from
round to triangular. The number of lobes generally range from 3 to 7 and can be easily
determined by counting the veins that go from the junction of the petiole up to the edge of the
leaf lamina. Leaf colour, size, pigmentation, hairiness and petiole length vary according to
cultivar and environmental conditions.
Sweet potato, under normal conditions does not flower. However, some cultivars produce
few to huge numbers of flowers (Huaman, 1992). The inflorescence is generally a cyme and
the flower is bisexual. Calyx consists of five sepals in two whorls (2+3). Corolla consists of
five petals that are fused forming a funnel. The androecium consists of five stamens with
filaments that are covered with glandular hairs and are partly fused to the corolla. The length
of the filaments is variable in relation to the position of the stigma. The gynoecium consists of
a pistil with a superior ovary, two carpels and two locules that contain one or two ovules. The
stigma is receptive early in the morning and the pollination is mainly by bees.
The fruit is a capsule, turns brown when mature and can be pubescent or glabrous. Each
capsule contains one to four seeds of approximately 3 mm size. The embryo and endosperm
are protected by a thick, very hard and impermeable testa. Seed germination is difficult and
requires scarification by mechanical abrasion or chemical treatment. Seeds do not have a
dormancy period but maintain their viability for many years. The storage roots that develop
from adventitious roots show the protective periderm or skin, the cortex, cambium ring and
central parenchyma. The amount of latex formed depends on the maturity of the storage root,
the cultivar and the soil moisture during the growing period. Storage roots may be formed in
cluster or dispersed depending on the cultivar. Storage root vary in shape and size. The skin
and flesh too vary in colour from white to orange, red and purple (Huaman, 1992).

SWEET POTATO PRODUCTION SYSTEM


Climate and Soil

Sweet potato grows best and yields storage roots high in moderately warm climate and
temperature of 21-26° C. A well distributed rainfall of 75-150 cm is favourable for its
cultivation. It can tolerate drought to some extent but cannot withstand water logging. It
requires plenty of sun shine, whereas shade causes reduction in yield. However, sweet potato
is grown as intercrop under plantation/orchard crops with the motto of profit maximization
and crop intensification (Nedunchezhiyan et al., 2007). In crop intensification and even slight
frost and temperature below 10° C checks its growth and development of storage roots.
Excess of rainfall and cloudy conditions encourage vine growth and reduce storage root yield.
Dry season storage root yields were higher than rainy season yields (Nedunchezhiyan and
Byju, 2005). Well drained loam and clay loam soils are good for sweet potato. Though it
grows on a variety of soils, sandy loam, with clay sub-soil is ideal. Heavy clay soils restrict
8 Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray

the storage root development due to compactness and highly sandy soil encourages long
cylindrical pencil like roots. Soil pH of 5.5-6.5 is ideal for sweet potato even though it is
grown in high acidic conditions. High soil pH invites pox and scurf diseases in sweet potato
and at low pH sweet potato suffers aluminum toxicity. Sweet potato is sensitive to alkaline
and saline conditions (Dasgupta et al., 2006; Mukherjee et al., 2006).

Variety

The variety plays a significant role in yield improvement. Development of location


specific varieties is the major objective of the many Research and Development organizations
working on sweet potato. The elite clones are developed by following different methods of
breeding procedures. The common methods are clonal selection, open pollinated selection,
hybridization, mutation and biotechnology (Nayar and Naskar, 1994). Some of the elite
varieties those are cultivated in different countries are as follows:

Bangladesh: Lalkothi, Kalmegh, BARI SP-6 and BARI SP-7


China: Xuzhou 18
India: Co-1, VL Sakarkand-6, Sree Nandini (75-OP-217), Sree
Vardhini (75-OP-219), Co-2, Co-3, Samrat, Sree Bhadra,
Sree Arun, Sree Varun, Kalinga, Goutam, Sourin, Kishan,
H-41, H-42, H-268 (Varsha), Rajendra Sakarakand – 5,
Sree Rethna, Gouri, Sankar, Sree Kanaka, Kamala Sundari,
S-1221, WBSP-4, Tripti and BCSP-5, Birsa Sakarakand –
1, Indira Sakarakand – 1 and Bidhan Jagannath.
Japan: Quick Sweet
Korea: Hongmi, Hwangmi, Sinjami, Mokpo 34, Shinmi, Wonmi,
Poongmi, Borami, Mokpo 32 and Enumi
Malaysia: Gendut, Telong, Jalomas, Minamiyutaka, Pisang Kapas,
Madu, Bawang, Kangkung Cina, Ikan Selayang, Kangkung
Kampung, Bukit Naga, Taiwan and Pasar Borong-1.
New Zealand: Owairaka Red, Toka Toka Gold and Beauregard
Papua New Guinea(PNG): K9, K42, Wanmun murua, Wanmun Large, Koitaki 2 and
UIB016
Srilanka: Wariyapola Red, HORDI-C-5, P2-20, 94-3, PH-8 and
HORDI-C-15
Thailand: Maejo, Taiwan, PIS 205, PIS 65-16 and PIS 166-5
United States of America: Jewel and Hernendez
Vietnam: K51, H12 and TV1

Orange Flesh Sweet Potato

Orange flesh sweet potato (Figure 2) contains β-carotene which is a precursor of vitamin
A. β- carotene content of sweet potato varies with the varieties up to 20 mg/100 g fresh
weight (Sakamoto et al., 1987; Yamakawa, 1997). One cup of cooked sweet potato can
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 9

provide 30 mg (50,000 IU) of β-carotene. It could take 23 cups broccoli to provide the same
amount (Sakamoto et al., 1987). It has four times United States Recommended Dietary
Allowance (USRDA) for β-carotene when eaten with skin.

Figure 2.

Some of the orange flesh sweet potato genotypes available in India are Kamala Sundari,
ST14, Gouri, Sree Kanaka, etc. The ST14 line content carotene of 13.83 mg/100 g fresh root
(Vimala et al., 2006). In Japan, Benihayato, Kyushu No. 114, in Mozambique, MGCL01,
440215, Resisto and in Thailand, PIS 226-24, PIS 227-6, etc are the high yielding orange
flesh varieties.

Purple Flesh Sweet Potato

Anthocyanins are a natural, soluble food pigment and contribute to the red, blue, and
purple colouring of the flowers and other plant parts. The pigment has applications in
pharmaceutical industries due to its bright colour, safe, non-poisonous, rich nutrition and
health care function (Rice-Evans and Packer, 1998). It can also be used for cosmetic industry.
At present anthocyanin is extracted from bill berry, red grape and straw berry. Red and purple
pigmentation in various parts of the sweet potato such as stem, leaf and storage root is also
caused by the presence of acylated anthocyanins (Fan et al., 2008). Bassa and Francis (1987)
first noted that sweet potato anthocyanins are an effective natural food colorant for
preparation of beverages. Sweet potato anthocyanins are comparable to red cabbage in terms
of their quality as natural food colorants. The recent detection of the radical scavenging,
antimutagenicity and efficacy against liver disease of sweet potato anthocyanins (Terahara et
al., 2004) indicated that purple fleshed sweet potatoes (Figure 3) may contribute to
maintaining the health of human beings.
Ayamurasaki, a high anthocyanin sweet potato variety was developed by the Kyushu
National Agricultural Experiment Station (KNAES), Japan in 1995 (Yamakawa et al., 1997).
Regional Centre of CTCRI, Bhubaneswar (India) has developed a high anthocyanin line ST13
(CTCRI, 2003). In Indonesia, three high yielding purple fleshed clones (MSU 01017-16,
10 Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray

MSU 01022-12 and MSU 01002-7) have been identified (Jusuf et al., 2005). The variety PIS
from Thailand is rich in anthocyanin (Narin and Reungmaneepaitoon, 2005).

Figure 3.

Planting Time

As sweet potato requires moderately warm temperature and light soil; accordingly, it is
planted in various countries. Thus it is planted and harvested every month in one part or other
in the world. In India sweet potato is grown in all the seasons i.e., kharif (June-August), rabi
(October-December) and summer (Janauary-February). However, sweet potato planted during
rabi season enjoys warm sunny days and cool nights with moderate rainfall which is
conducive for higher storage root yield. In Malaysia, lower yield was observed during wet
growing seasons (August to December) and higher root yield was observed in drier growing
seasons (January to July) (Zaharah and Tan, 2006). In Solamon Islands, highest root yields
were reported when sweet potato was planted between September and February (Bourke,
2005). In Puerto Rico, highest root yields were obtained when planted in November and
lowest in crops planted in March or May (Badillo Feliciano, 1976). In Korea, best results
were obtained when sweet potato was planted during May-June (Jeong et al., 1986). In
Taiwan, high root yields of sweet potato were obtained when the mean daily temperature was
maintained around 22° C for the first 60 days after planting (Sajjaponge, 1989). In India,
rainfed crops should be planted immediately after onset of monsoon for higher storage root
yields (Nedunchezhiyan and Reddy, 2006), whereas dry season crop should be planted in
October-November (Nath et al., 2006). In Cameroon, sweet potato is produced in May/June
and September/October seasons (Njualem et al., 2005).
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 11

Planting Materials

Sweet potato is usually propagated through vine cuttings obtained either from freshly
harvested plants or from nursery. However, recurrent use of vines can cause increased weevil
infestation, even though there is less change of root yield reduction (Nair, 2006). Vines
obtained from nursery are found to be healthy and vigorous. A healthy and vigorous growing
vine produces maximum storage root yield.
The apical and middle portion of the vine is found to be best compared to bottom portion.
Bottom portion usually thick and woody, some times fail to establish, further chance of
weevil spread is more due to proximity with the crown portion, where sweet potato weevil
multiplies (Nair, 2006). A vine length of 20-40 cm with at least 3-5 nodes is found to be
optimum for the storage root production in different parts of India (Nair, 2006). In Cuba, 25-
30 cm long stem cuttings were found to be ideal.
Sweet potato cut vines with intact leaves stored under shade for 2-3 days prior to planting
in the main field promoted better root initiation and established the vines quickly (Biswal,
2008). However storing of the vines for a long time caused failure of establishment in the
field due to drying. Early established vines are vigorous and produces higher yield. Stored
vines were found to superior to fresh vines in respect of leaf area index, crop growth rate, root
bulking rate, number of storage root per plant and root and vine yields (Mukhopadhyay et al.,
1990). When the vines are to be transported to distant places, leaves can be removed to reduce
the bulkiness. This method can be adopted for multiplication of planting materials which
involve transportation costs.

Land Preparation and Planting

The land is ploughed two to three times to a depth of about 15-20 cm and harrowed to
pulverize the soil. Sweet potato is planted on mound, ridge and furrow, raised bed and flat
methods in different regions. It is preferable to plant sweet potato on mounds in areas
experiencing problems of drainage. Ridges formed across the slope are recommended in
sloppy lands for the control of soil erosion. In Vietnam, planting is done on beds formed at a
width of 1-1.4 m and 0.4- to 0.5 m height (Ngoan, 2006). Among different methods of land
preparation the highest storage root yield was realized when planted on mounds under Indian
conditions (Ravindran and Mohankumar, 1985). The higher yield recorded for mounds is
probably be due to better soil aeration permitted by mounds and less tendency to soil
compaction. In Bangladesh, higher yields were reported with trench planting followed by
ridge and flat method of planting in alluvial soils under irrigated conditions (Bhuiyan et al.,
2006).
Sweet potato cuttings of desirable length (20 cm) are planted in the soil with both ends
exposed and the middle portion buried in the soil. Vines are also planted in an inclined
position with half of its length buried in the soil. Sweet potato cuttings are also planted
horizontally to the soil surface with 5 or 6 nodes. In Orissa (India), farmers plant long size
(50-75 cm) vines horizontally (Nedunchezhiyan et al., 2006). However, CTCRI (India) has
recommended to plant the cuttings in the soil with both the ends exposed and the middle
portion buried (Nair, 2006). Whatever may be the planting method, 1-2 nodes should be
below the soil for better establishment. Horizontal planting resulted in higher transplant
12 Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray

survival and better development of the root system compared to other methods though
laborious (Nair, 2000). In Uganda, planting of cuttings showed that there is neither advantage
nor disadvantage in planting through the soil (horizontal) and leaving both ends protruding
(Kaggwa et al., 2006). Planting of sweet potato vines at depth ranging from 2.5 to 10.0 cm
when planted vertically did not have any significant influence on stand establishment and
final storage yield (Ravindran and Mohankumar, 1985).

Plant Population

High plant population by planting close spacing is generally recommended for sweet
potato to achieve maximum storage root yield. A planting distance of 30-60 cm between the
rows and 15-20 cm between the plants gives maximum yield (Kaggwa et al., 2006). However,
when sweet potato is planted on mounds no specific spacing is followed and vines are planted
on mounds by accommodating 3-6 slips/ mounds. In Uganda, a plant population of 25000 to
35000 is suggested (Kaggwa et al., 2006). A significant reduction in yield was observed when
the plant population was dropped to 12000/ha (Kaggwa et al., 2006). In Cameroon sweet
potato clones 20000 plants/ha was found optimum (Woolfe, 1992). In Bangladesh, maximum
root yield was obtained when vines were planted at spacing of 60 x 45 cm with two vines/hill
(Bhuiyan et al., 2006) and in alluvial soils 60 x 30 cm spacing was optimum planted on flat
bed for high yielding varieties (Golder et al., 2007).

Manures and Fertilizers

As sweet potato removes appreciable quantities of plant nutrients, incorporation of


considerable amount of organic manure at planting is recommended to maintain soil
productivity. Application of manures has significant impact on growth and root yield of sweet
potato (Salawu and Mukhtar, 2008). Usually farm yard manure/ cow dung compost or green
manure is used as organic manure for sweet potato (Kaggwa et al., 2006). Sweet potatoes
grown in fertile soils generally do not receive dressings of organic manure while soils low in
organic matter content have to be supplied with organic manures at 5 to 10 tonnes/ha to
ensure proper development of storage roots (Nedunchezhiyan and Reddy, 2004). Application
of legume green manure is found an alternative to farmyard manure (Reijintjes et al., 1992;
Kaggwa et al., 2006). On unit nitrogen basis, farmyard manure, pig manure and poultry
manure were equally effective (Nedunzhiyan, 2001).
Nitrogen (N) is essential for crop growth. Application of N increased the root yield
(George and Mitra, 2001; Satapathy et al., 2005). However, high amount of N application
encourages vine growth rather than storage root development. A moderate dose of 50-75 kg
N/ha is optimum for root production in sweet potato (Nair et al., 1996; Sebastiani et al., 2006;
Biswal, 2008). Higher levels of N sometimes depressed the root yield (Hartemink, 2003).
Conjunctive use of fertilizer N and any of the organic manures to supply 50% each of
recommended N produced the maximum vine and storage root yield compared to other N
management practices (Nedunchezhiyan and Reddy, 2002). Inoculation of Azospirillum (free-
living N2- fixing biofertilizer) was found to increase storage root yield (Desmond and Hill,
1990; Saikia and Borah, 2007), quality (Nedunchezhiyan et al., 2004) and soil fertility status
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 13

in sweet potato field (Nedunchezhiyan and Reddy, 2004). Azospirillum replaces one-third N
requirements and reduces cost of cultivation (Nedunchezhiyan and Reddy, 2002; Saikia and
Borah, 2007).
Nitrogen has been reported to influence the quality characters apart from storage root
yield of sweet potato. Continuous use of fertilizer N may in some situation have detrimental
effects on root quality. Therefore, use of organic source of N is essential to improve the
quality characters. However, in the present day situation per ha yield of starch, vitamin C, β-
carotene, etc. is more important than percentage content. Nedunchezhiyan et al. (2003)
noticed discernable variation in the quality characters due to different source of N and their
combinations.
Response of sweet potato to phosphorus (P) is very low. A dose of 25-50 kg P2O5/ha is
considered optimum for sweet potato (Mohanty et al., 2005; Akinrinde, 2006; Sebastiani et
al., 2006). The relative efficiency of rock phosphate as source of P to sweet potato was equal
to single super phosphate in direct effect but superior to it in residual value (Kabeerathumma
et al., 1986).
Potassium (K) is key element and essential in the synthesis and translocation of
carbohydrates from the tops to the roots (Byju and Nedunchezhiyan, 2004). A moderate dose
of 75-100 kg K2O is recommended for sweet potato (Mukhopadhyay et al., 1990; Nair et al.,
1996; John et al., 2001). However, in China sweet potato responded to very high level of K2O
300 kg/ha (George et al., 2002). The quality characters like starch and protein content was
found to increase with increased K levels (Biswal, 2008).

Weeding

Sweet potato is a quick growing crop suppresses weeds when grown closely. However,
for root yield it is grown with wider spacing. Under such conditions, weeding becomes
necessary particularly in the early stages of the growth. Earthing up of the soil also brings
about weed control besides improving the physical condition of the soil. About 40-80 %
reduction in storage root yield is observed in sweet potato due to weed infestation at different
stages of growth (Nedunzhiyan et al., 1998). Celosia argentia – Digitaria sanguinalis –
Cleome viscose were the dominating weed community in upland sweet potato ecosystem
(Nedunzhiyan, 1996). Due to initial slow growth of sweet potato, the crop - weed competition
set at early for water and nutrients (Nedunchezhiyan and Satapathy, 2002). The critical period
of crop – weed competition sets between 30-45 days after planting (Nedunzhiyan et al.,
1998). For higher yield, weeding and earthing up has to be given between 15-30 and 45-60
days after planting.
Herbicides are also used to a limited extent for the control of weeds in sweet potato.
Application of Isoproturon 1 kg a.i./ha as pre-emergence 2 days after planting (mixed with
dry fine sand and broadcasting) followed by one hand weeding 30 days after planting
controlled the weed effectively(Nedunzhiyan, 1996). Alachlor 3.4 or 6.7 kg/ha application
gave 88-100% control of weeds in sweet potato plots in North Carolina (Herman et al., 1983).
Mulching is not uncommon in upland rainfed conditions in small holder farming system.
Mulching provides many benefits to plants by augmenting rhizosphere microflora (Kundu et
al., 2006). It also conserves moisture and reduces soil temperature. In Korea in the 1980s,
poly ethylene film mulching method was developed for producing good quality sweet potato
14 Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray

roots (Jeong, 2000). In Japan, black plastic film mulches are used for controlling weeds in
high rainfall hilly regions, which also protect the hills from erosion (Yamakawa, 1997).
Mulched soil retained higher moisture and enhanced mineral N (29-87%), P (1.4-12.6%) and
K (16-36%) availability when applied for dry season sweet potato (Kundu et al., 2006).
Sweet potato grows vigorously and produces large quantity of vines when temperature
and rainfall are favourable at the cost of storage roots (Nedunchezhiyan and Byju, 2005). Part
of the vine preferably the top portion can be removed and used as leaf vegetable or forage or
planting material (Satapathy et al., 2006). In sweet potato, root bulking commences about six
weeks after planting. Higher root yields are not necessarily associated with greater foliage
production (Nedunchezhiyan and Byju, 2005). In rainy season crop removal of 15 cm shoot
tip did not affect the root yield at Bhubaneswar, India (Roy Chowdhury and Ravi, 1990).

Irrigation

Sweet potato vines are tender and fragile, if sufficient moisture is not available in the soil
immediately after planting it dries up. For proper sprouting and establishment of vines
sufficient moisture in the soil at the time of planting is ensured. Sweet potato is mostly grown
under rainfed conditions. Hence, planting is carried out on rainy day or immediately after
rain. Sweet potato is also grown in dry season under protective irrigation. Under such
conditions if sufficient moisture is not available after planting, irrigation has to be provided
on alternate days initially for the first fortnight and thereafter once in 7-10 days. A total of 12-
15 irrigations are required for the entire crop period. Irrigation two days prior to harvest can
be helpful for easy lifting of roots but this also depends on the soil condition. Moisture stress
during crop growth significantly affected the storage root yield (Ravi and Indira, 1996).
Sweet potato required on an average of 2 mm of water/ day in the early parts of the growing
season and gradually increased to 5-6 mm of water/ day prior to harvest (Gomes and Carr,
2003). Irrigating the sweet potato field at IW (Irrigation water): CPE (Cumulative Pan
Evaporation) of 0.6-0.8 in silt clay loam and clay loam soils (Biswal, 2008) and IW: CPE of
1.0 in sandy and sandy loam soils (Nair et al., 1996; Roy Chowdhury et al., 2001) recorded
higher root yield. However, when soil moisture was high sweet potato had luxuriant
vegetative growth with little or no tuberiz ation (Bourke, 2005; Biswal, 2008).

Pests and Diseases

Nematodes and insect pests attack sweet potato storage root and vine. Meloidogyne spp.
(root-knot) and Rotylenchulus reniformis are the major known nematode pests of sweet
potatoes in the tropics (Mohandas, 2006). They attack the fibres as well as fleshy roots and
reduce yield and quality. Also allow other pathogens to penetrate through the wounds.
Nematodes can be controlled by applying neem cake 500 kg/ha in the last ploughing before
ridge and furrow making. Sree Bhadra variety from India is found to be resistant to root knot
nematode (Mohandas, 2006).
Sweet potato weevil, Cylas formicarius Fab. is a major pest in most sweet potato growing
countries (Ray and Ravi, 2005). Larvae and adult feed on the roots, causing extensive damage
both in field and storage in many parts of the world. The weevil can be effectively managed
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 15

by following the integrated pest management (IPM) strategy developed by CIP (International
Potato Centre, Peru) as well as by CTCRI, India. The IPM is as follows: (1) dip the vine
cuttings in fenthion or fentrothion 0.05% solution for 10 min before planting, (2) re-ridge the
crop two months after planting, (3) install synthetic sex pheromone traps @ 1 trap/100 m2
area to collect and kill the male weevils and (4) destroy the crop residues after harvest by
burning. IPM practice reduced 50-60% weevil infested storage roots and increased more than
20% storage root yield (Sethi et al., 2003). In sweet potato weevil endemic area early harvest
of roots is recommended to avoid the weevil damage (Mohanty et al., 2005).
The scarabee, Euscepes postfasciatus (Fairm.) is a serious pest in the drier parts of South
America, the Caribbean and the Pacific (Yasuda, 1997). Larvae and adults feed on roots and
stems of the sweet potato. The larvae produce narrow tunnels in the roots and like the sweet
potato weevil cause the roots to produce bitter toxic terpenoid compounds making them
inedible. The sweet potato vine borer, Omphisa anastomosalis has been reported in India,
Malaysia and China, where it is considered to be as destructive as the sweet potato weevil
(Rajamma and Premkumar, 1994). Wild pigs, rats and other herbivores cause damage and
loss in some countries (Ray and Ravi, 2005).
In sweet potato, other diseases are observed in field conditions but the severity is less.
Fungal diseases are not normally very serious in the tropics in field conditions (Woolfe,
1992). Stem rot, Fusarium oxysporum Schlect. F.sp. batatas is destructive in the United
States (Woolfe, 1992).
Virus diseases may attack the root or the leaves. They include internal cork disease and
mosaic virus. More than 12 virus diseases are identified; among them sweet potato feathery
mottle virus (SPFMV) is prominent. Viruses are important in parts of East and West Africa
but not in the rest of the world. The virus diseases can be managed through field tolerant
varieties, use of virus free planting materials as well as meristem cultured plants (Prasanth et
al., 2006).

Harvesting

Environment and variety play a significant role in deciding the time of harvest in sweet
potato. In grain crops, where single harvesting is followed immediately after maturity;
otherwise, grains get shattered or spoiled if retained few more days in the field. Whereas in
sweet potato single harvesting and double harvesting (progressive harvesting) are practiced as
root yields are not affected by delaying few days after maturity. Staggered harvesting
facilitates marketing and realizing reasonable price for the produce.
However, in Papua New Guinea, non- marketable storage roots constituted a greater
proportion of the total storage roots with progressive harvesting compared to single
harvesting although the yield of marketable roots (100 g above) were 2.0-3.4 tonnes/ha higher
(Bourke, 2006). Though yield/ha will increase if the crop remains in the ground longer period
but the storage root become less palatable and weevil damages and rots become more
noticeable with age. The maturity of the storage roots can be determined by cutting the roots.
The cut surface of the immature roots gives a dark greenish colour, while in mature roots the
cut ends dry clearly. A light irrigation 2-3 days prior to harvesting facilitates easy lifting of
the storage roots. After removing the vines the roots are dug out without causing injury (Nair,
2000). Manual harvesting is the most common method in the tropics.
16 Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray

The yield varies with the location, variety, season of planting, soil conditions and
fertility. In general the storage root yield varies from 20-25 tonnes/ha for promising varieties
with improved crop management practices (Nair, 2000).

SWEET POTATO UTILIZATION SYSTEM


Sweet potato storage roots are utilized primarily as human food after boiling or baking.
Roots can also be utilized for animal feed, starch production, as an ingredient in a variety of
food and drink products and in protein and enzyme production.

Utilization in Animal Feeds

Culled roots and vines are used as animal feed either directly or processed (Nedunzhiyan
et al., 2000; Bourke, 2006; Naskar et al., 2008a). Silage, a nutritious feed can be made
effectively in small readily transportable quantities using unsalable roots and tops (Otiono et
al., 2006). Boiled sweet potato roots can be fed to the level of 40% of total dry matter intake
to weaned piglet for better growth rate and nutrient utilization (Gupta et al., 2006).

Utilization for Starch Production

Sweet potato storage roots are used as a source of starch. The starch extracted from sweet
potato is used in textiles, paper and food manufacturing industries, preparation of liquid
glucose and adhesives (Bovell-Benzamin, 2007).
In Japan, sweet potato starch is mainly used for liquid glucose production (Yamakawa,
1997; Moorthy and Shanavas, chapter 4 in this book). Sweet potato starch extracted from
fresh roots is having unsatisfactory characters due to interference of protein, sugars and fibre
(Yamakawa, 1997). However, in frozen root technology above interference can be nullified.
Water and water soluble components are subtracted easily from frozen roots during melting,
and starch and fibres are separated after that (Yamakawa, 1997).
The starch contents of cultivated varieties are about 12-20% on fresh weight basis
(Bovell-Benzamin, 2007). However, these cultivars cannot compete with starches of maize
and cassava in terms of price. Hence new cultivars should be developed with 29-30% starch
along with high amylose content and pasting trait in low temperature (Komaki and
Yamakawa, 2005).

Utilization of Coloured Sweet Potato

Sweet potato storage root has three kinds of colour pigments, anthocyanin, ß-carotenoids
and unidentified flavonoids (Naskar et al., 2007). In the health conscious world, consumers
prefer natural food colours to artificial ones. Natural red colour is extracted from insects,
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 17

microorganisms and plants such as red cabbage and red beet. In Japan, in late 1980,
anthocyanin pigments in sweet potato storage roots was discovered (Bassa and Francis,
1987). The colour quality and stability of this sweet potato anthocyanin is as high as that of
red cabbage. In 1995, Japan released first anthocyanin rich sweet potato variety
‗Ayamurasaki‘. Similarly, orange and yellow coloured sweet potatoes are also documented in
different parts of the world. The Regional Centre of CTCRI, Bhubaneswar has released its
first orange flesh hybrid sweet potato ‗Gouri‘ in 1998. It contains ß-carotene 4.5-5.5 mg/100
g fresh root (CTCRI, 2003). CTCRI, Thruvananthapuram has released ‗Sree Kanaka‘ a sweet
potato variety contains ß-carotene 8.8–10.0 mg/100 g fresh root (CTCRI, 2006).
The highly coloured storage root is made into flour with purple and orange colour.
Ayamurasaki a purple colour sweet potato is having 35% dry matter which is high enough for
making flour (Yamakawa et al., 1997). Similarly, ‗Benihayato‘ an orange coloured sweet
potato variety is having more than 30% dry matter (Sakamoto et al., 1987) suitable for flour
making (van Hal, 2000). Flour making whole roots with skin (cut into strip and dried)
contains more amount of functional component than an inner one alone because skin contains
more colouring pigments. Drying roots quickly under 60ºC is important in order to maintain
the deep flour colour (van Hal, 2000). Recent research (Bechoff et al., 2009) has shown that
losses during drying are generally the least (about 15%) while during storage the losses can
be as high as 70%. Baked roots retained about 75% of the original carotenoid content, while
flours from sun dried chips registered a loss of 70% (Babu, 2006). Sweet potato flour should
be stored better under 15º C and without air especially for orange coloured flour containing
carrotenoid. Mixed flour from sweet potato and wheat can be the good materials for many
food item such as biscuits, bread, noodles, snacks, cakes and so on (Mais and Brennan, 2008).
Substituting 38% of wheat flour (by weight) with boiled and smashed orange flesh sweet
potato in bread buns was acceptable to rural consumers and bakers in Central Mozambique
because of heavier texture and its attractive golden appearance (Low and Jaarsveld, 2006).
The wastes after making flour can also be used for anthocyanin and carotenoid extraction
(van Hal, 2000).
Sweet potato juice can be made from highly coloured especially orange coloured sweet
potatoes. Carrot juice, rich in carotene has acquired more popularity than tomato juice due to
its superior taste. Recently, several sweet potato cultivars were developed with higher
carotene content than carrot (Yoshimoto, Chapter 3 in this book). However, in order to
produce high quality juice from sweet potato, it is necessary to make sweet potato smell and
browning (colour degradation) lesser than carrot juice (Tamaki et al., 2007). Hence, new
cultivars are developed with high ß-carotene content, low colour degradation, low dry matter
content along with high yield. J-Red (Japan) and ST13 (India) varieties are suitable for juice
making. The key technology in making sweet potato juice is the decomposition of starch and
dextrin by enzymes which makes the filtration easy and improves the texture of juice (Panda
and Ray, 2007). Coloured wastes after filtration is left to be reused.
Coloured sweet potato can also be fermented to make alcoholic beverage such as beer
and wine. Yellow, red and black coloured beverage like beer (sparkling liquor) is being sold
in Japan (Yamakawa, 1997). In India, Regional Centre of CTCRI, Bhubaneswar perfected
technology for making red wine from anthocyanin rich sweet potato genotype (ST13)
(CTCRI, 2003). The key technology to succeed in developing these beverages is enzymatic
decomposition of starch to sugars and fermentation by yeast. In Japan, distilled liquor
‗Shochu‘ is made from coloured sweet potato (Yamakawa, 1997).
18 Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray

Coloured pottage soup and croquette can be made from coloured storage roots in place of
potato and pumpkin. Sweet potato soup with a beautiful colour, smooth texture, a bit of
sweetness will be preferred than the soups from other crops. Sweetness is undesirable for
cooking use. Hence, coloured variety with less sweetness can be developed for soup making
(Yamakawa, 1997).
Snack foods such as French fries and potato chips will be though as one of the usage of
coloured sweet potato. But these products are bit harder than potato when sweet potato roots
are fried in the oil. However, to some extent this can be improved by frying under vacuum
condition (Yamakawa, 1997).

Utilization for Protein and Enzyme

Sweet potato is a low protein (ipomoein/sporamin) crop. It contains 4-7% on a dry weight
basis. Sweet potato storage root protein quality is better than maize and beans. However,
lysine and s-amino acids are limiting amino acids for infant and children when they consume
sweet potato (Yamakawa, 1997). Variation in quantity and quality of crude protein and
individual amino acids content is noticed among varieties. So far the usage possibility of
sporamin remains unknown except for nutritional aspect.
Among enzymes contained in sweet potato ß-amylase is present in high amount.
Although the activity of crude ß-amylase from current sweet potato cultivars is about 3000
unit/g and not higher than those from soybean (4000 unit/g) and barley (6000 unit/g), the cost
of the sweet potato ß-amylase production is about one-tenth cheaper than the others
(Yamakawa, 1997). There is possibility of doubling ß-amylase content (6000 unit/g) in sweet
potato storage roots (Yamakawa, 1997). However, it is required to increase heat tolerance of
sweet potato ß-amylase whose activity is lost at less than 60º C. As the ß-amylase is water
soluble, it can be squeezed from raw roots or frozen roots at first and then condensed by spray
drier. The starch can be collected from waste materials afterwards.

Utilization of Tops

Usually sweet potato tops are used as livestock food or restored into soil as green manure
when sweet potato is harvested. Research evidences suggested that sweet potato tops are rich
in nutrition such as protein, vitamins and minerals (Woolfe, 1992). It is necessary to develop
new technology to use the top more efficiently and economically as materials for food
processing. Sweet potato tops especially leaves have amazing amount of polyphenols
composed mainly of chlorogenic acid and iso-chlorogenic acid (Mohapatra et al., 2001). The
ethanol extracts of leaves shows the strong suppressive effects to some food poisoning
microorganisms. Sweet potato tops can be exclusively produced in separate nursery bed and
harvest one month after planting for food processing. The dark green leaves, which are rich in
protein and polyphenols can be separated from light green and stems. The former part can be
used for food, green drink like tea or medicine (Furuta et al., 1998). The latter part, which is
supposed to be composed mainly of fibres can be used for absorbent for poisonous gas,
chemicals, metals and against microorganism and so on (Yamakawa, 1997).
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 19

In tropical countries sweet potato are generally processed by simple slicing of storage
roots followed by sun drying. The dehydrated roots form an important raw material for starch
production. The flour made of chips can be used for various food preparations according to
the taste preference of consumers (van Hal, 2000). In the developed countries, sweet potatoes
are processed into frozen, canned or flaked products (Bovell-Benjamin, 2007). Sweet potato
contained trypsin inhibitor which inhibits the important digestive enzyme trypsin (Sasikaran
et al., 2002). The presence of trypsin inhibitor activity in sweet potato could decrease protein
digestion and utilization in people whose diets consists of sweet potato as a major component.
However, this can be reduced to very low levels or eliminated by normal cooking methods
like boiling or baking. Sweet potato is being used as a carbohydrate source in animal feed in
several countries. More on the utilization patterns of sweet potatoes are discussed in the
subsequent chapters in this book.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors sincerely thank Dr. Ibisime Etela, Department of Animal Science and
Fisheries, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria for providing the data of Table 2.

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26 Maniyam Nedunchezhiyan and Ramesh C. Ray

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In: Sweet Potato: Post Harvest Aspects in Food ISBN 978-1-60876-343-6
Editors: R. C. Ray and K. I. Tomlins © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Chapter 2

POST HARVEST HANDLING, STORAGE METHODS,


PESTS AND DISEASES OF SWEET POTATO

Ramesh C. Ray1, V. Ravi2, Vinayak Hegde2,


K. Rajasekhara Rao1 and Keith I. Tomlins3
1
Regional Centre, Central Tuber Crops Research Institute,
Bhubaneswar 751 019, India
2
Central Tuber Crops Research Institute,
Thiruvanathapuram 695 017, India
3
University of Greenwich, Central Avenue,
Chatham maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, UK

ABSTRACT
Sweet potato storage roots are subjected to several forms of post harvest losses
during transportation from farmers‘ field to market and in storage. These are due to
mechanical injury, weight loss, sprouting and diseases and pests. The shelf-life of sweet
potato roots shows variation with respect to varieties, climatic conditions, harvest
procedure, mode of transportation and storage. Pre-harvest foliar application of maleic
hydrazide (1000 ppm) combined with evapourative cool chamber storage significantly
increased the shelf-life of sweet potatoes. Sweet potato weevil is the single most
important storage pest for which no control measures or resistant variety are yet available
but can be managed by storing healthy, weevil free roots which can be produced through
adequate irrigation and early harvest. Alternately, sweet potatoes can be exposed to
150Gy irradiation or stored at temperatures between 16-18oC to control weevil damage.
Several fungi have been found to cause diseases in stored sweet potato. The most
important among them are Botryodiplodia theobromae, Ceratocystis fimbriata, Fusarium
spp. and Rhizopus oryzae. The other less frequently occurring spoilage fungi include
Cochliobolus lunatus (Curvularia lunata), Macrophomina phaseolina, Sclerotium rolfsii,
Rhizoctonia solani and Plenodomus destruens. Fungal decay of sweet potato is found
associated with decrease in starch, total sugar, organic acid (ascorbic acid) contents with
concomitant increase in total sugars, polyphenols, ethylene and in some instances


Corresponding author: Tel/Fax: 91-674-2470528; E-mail: rc_ray @rediffmail.com
28 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

phytoalexins. Several methods are used to control sweet potato storage diseases. Curing
to promote wound healing is found as the most suitable method. Curing naturally occurs
in tropical climate where mean day temperature during sweet potato harvesting season
(February- April) invariably remains at 32-35oC and relative humidity at 80-95%.
Fungicide treatment, bio-control, gamma irradiation and storage in sand and saw dust
have moderate impacts in controlling fungal rot and enhancing shelf- life of sweet potato
roots. Blanching, antimicrobial agents, anti-browning substances (citric acid, ascorbic
acid and sulfite) and modified atmospheric package (MAP) using moderately O2
permeable film (7000 cm3/atm/m2/24 h) in a modified atmosphere of 5% O2, 4% CO2 and
91% N2 under refrigerated conditions or cold chlorination (dipping fresh-cut pieces of
sweet potatoes in 200 ppm at 1oC) suppressed the build up of microflora and enhanced
the shelf-life of shredded sweet potatoes up to 14 days without significant changes in
quality.

ABBREVIATIONS
DCNA dichloronitroaniline;
GM genetically modified;
IPM integrated pest management;
MAP modified atmospheric package;
MH maleic hydrazide;
PAL phenylalanine ammonia–lyase;
RH relative humidity;
SPW sweet potato weevil;
UV ultra violet

INTRODUCTION
Sweet potato roots are important source of secondary staple food for people living in
remote villages and hilly regions. It tolerates flood and salinity stress conditions and produces
energy (152 MJ/ha/day) in form of edible tuberous (storage) roots. Sweet potato storage roots,
like any other vegetable, are subjected to several forms of post harvest losses during
transportation from farmers‘ field to market and in storage. These are due to inept post
harvest handling, poor storage methods, physical damage during transportation, weight loss,
sprouting and pests and diseases. Climate and soil conditions before harvest, infection by
fungi and infestation by insect pests in the field may initiate/ enhance post harvest
deterioration. Also, careless post harvest handling, which is very common in tropical
developing countries, often leads to both quantitative and qualitative losses (Ray and Ravi,
2005). This may be extremely high in some circumstances such as extreme temperatures
(<450 C). This chapter discusses the various aspects of post harvest handling, storage
methods, pests and diseases of sweet potato and recommends control measures to reduce post
harvest losses.
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 29

POST HARVEST HANDLING


Sweet potato roots are categorized as ―perishable‖ because the roots, once detached from
the plant, cannot be stored for a longer time (compared with durable commodities such as
grains) (Woolfe, 1992). The fresh roots, in general, contain high moisture content, usually
between 50 and 70% and hence have a relatively low mechanical strength. They also have a
very high respiratory rate, and the resultant heat production softens the texture, which leads to
damage. In addition, the mechanical injury such as bruising, cuts and abrasions increase the
loss of moisture and become entry point for microorganisms. The shelf-life of sweet potatoes
varies from few days to few months according to the cultivar and storage conditions. Finally,
fresh roots are vulnerable to microbial decay due to fungi and bacteria. Due to these reasons
sweet potatoes often incur heavy post-harvest loss of quality (Ray and Ravi, 2005).

STORAGE METHODS
Sweet potatoes are often consumed within 2-3 weeks without storing. However, storage
often becomes necessary to extend availability of fresh roots throughout the year in some
areas/circumstances where production is essentially seasonal. Production is not possible in
winter in temperate climates due to frost formation and in the Indian sub-continent during wet
monsoon season due to water logging (Ray and Ravi, 2005). Storage of sweet potato is often
necessary to avoid gluts in the market. For instance, in Bangladesh and India where sweet
potato production is confined mostly to winter season (October –February), there is always a
drop in price due to availability of a wide variety of other vegetables depriving farmers a
satisfactory return (Jenkins, 1982; Ray and Balagopalan, 1997). Storage provides an
opportunity to market sweet potato out of season when prices are higher. Sweet potato can be
stored using traditional and modern methods (Ravi et al., 1996). The various methods of
sweet potato storage and percentage loss (Table 1) are described in brief.

Methods Used by Maoris’s

In this method, roots were placed on the floor, which was previously covered with gravel
or dried fern bush. The seed stock was placed at the back and the roots for edible purpose at
the front. The cut or bruised roots were placed near the entrance and these were consumed
first. The whole store was then sealed and left for sometime. Sweet potato stored by this
method entailed heavy losses due to decay and rat damage (Keleny, 1965).

Pits and Clamps

Construction of pits and clamps for storage of fresh sweet potato is a more common
practice in all sweet potato growing tropical countries. Mean loss of weight of sweet potato
roots after eight weeks of storage in bamboo lined pits was the lowest (22.1%) followed by
30 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

clamp storage (22.4%) where the roots were placed on a layer of grass on the surface of the
ground and then covered with grass and soil (Gooding and Campbell, 1964).

Table 1. The losses of sweet potato and causes under different storage methods
(Ray and Ravi, 2005; modified)

Storage methods Storage period % Loss Causes


Bamboo lined pits under 8 weeks 22.1 Weight loss
thatched roof 82.0 Sprouting
Clamp under thatched roof 8 weeks 22.4 Weight loss
77.0 Sprouting
Clamp 3-5 months 30.0 Weight loss, rotting
Pits in open area/corner of the 6 months < 20.0 Weight loss, rotting
house and covered with paddy
straw
imulated pit condition in 2 months 50.0 Rotting
laboratory
Pits with alternate layers of 1-2 months 20-40 Weight loss, rotting,
wood ash sprouting
Heap storage 2-4 months 20-25 Rotting/weevil
Roots piled on a bench like 2-4 months 20-25 Weight loss/rotting, rodent
platform made of bamboo infestation, weevil
Trench 50 cm deep covered 7 weeks 35 Rotting Sprouting, weevil
with sand and sheltered by a 45
roof
Sand 6-7 weeks <30.0 Weight loss
Closed cardboard cartoons - 29-35 Weight loss Sprouting
covered with grass 5-44
Cool chamber (double layered 5-6 weeks - Sprouting
brick wall filled in with sand)

Contrary to the weight loss, mean sprouting of sweet potato roots was 82 and 77 %,
respectively, in these two treatments. Thirty per cent loss in weight was observed after three
to five month storage in clamps. In Zimbabwe and Malawi, the roots were placed in pits with
alternate layer of wood ash and in Papua New Guinea roots were alternated with layers of
grass (Bourke, 2005, 2006; Ramakrishna, 2006). In Cameroon, roots placed in dry leaf-lined
holes and sprinkled with wood ash were finally covered with dry leaves or grass (Numafor
and Lyonga, 1987). In experiments in Uganda, roots stored in pits or clamps during dry
season had shelf- life for as long as five months, provided the stores were checked regularly
for rotting, rodent or insect damage (CIP, 1997). In Tanzania, pit and clamp storage is
practiced (van Oirchot et al., 2007) where it is recommended that stores should not be lined
with grass and that ventilation, the store design and cultivar had no impact. On-farm testing in
Tanzania (Tomlins et al., 2007) indicated that practical and simple improvements were
necessary, without which losses in the proportion of market-quality roots from the store could
be as high as 79%. These practical improvements were mainly concerned with the position of
stores on the farms. The addition of a new step, dehaulming (removing the plant canopy one
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 31

week before harvest), improved the recovery of market–quality roots by 48%. Variations
among the farmers in their attitudes to storing sweet potato suggest that, when transferring
methods from the research station to the farm, it is necessary to target those most able to
adopt the approach. Transfer of the storage methods to the farmer has also been reported to be
critical in Uganda (Hall and Deverau, 2000). These methods of storage practices are however,
only satisfactory usually for a period of about two months and unless care is taken to ensure
that no cut or bruised roots are stored and adequate ventilation is provided, losses due to
rotting is usually between 40 and 50% (van Oirchot et al., 2007). Traditional storage of roots
in Malawi entails the placement of roots in pits directly after harvest or after sun curing for
about a day. The pits are dug under maize or groundnut silos. The bottom and sides of the pits
and subsequent layers of roots are sprinkled with ash. Under these conditions, roots stored
beyond three to four months show heavy losses. Elevation of root temperature due to high
respiration rate presumably raised temperature inside the pits, which favoured sprouting while
rotting was primarily due to the growth of Rhizopus stolonifer (Kwapata, 1983/1984). In
India, farmers usually dig pits in an open area or in the corner of the house. Roots are placed
in pits and the pits are covered with paddy straw and plastered with mud. Under such
conditions, farmers claim storage life of sweet potato up to six months with less than 20%
loss (Ray and Balagopalan, 1997). Therefore, pit storage is recommended only as a low cost
method of storage because of disadvantages such as heavy loss due to decay, rat damage,
inferior quality due to lack of proper curing, and limited keeping quality once removed from
the pit.

Heap

Heap storage of sweet potato is another common method followed in many tropical
countries. In this method, roots are heaped on a plain surface or in the corner of the house and
they are covered with thin layer of paddy straw or dried grass. Jenkins (1981, 1982) described
a heap storage method being followed by farmers in Bangladesh. Sometimes, roots are piled
on a bench-like structure made of bamboo. Only a few farmers construct a special storing
structure made of bamboo and plastered with mud. Under such conditions, the length of the
storage period varies between two to four months with a post harvest loss of 20 to 25%.
Sweet potato roots stored under field conditions at temperatures between 24 to 35 oC and 70 to
90% relative humidity (R.H.) lost about 19.3% of their fresh weight in five weeks. In yet
another study, mean weight loss of nearly 20% was observed during 45 days storage due to
fungal decay and weevil infestation (Ali et al., 1991).
In Vietnam, 75% of the harvest is stored in the house either on the floor or suspended
from the ceiling. Here, storage period is reduced if weevils are present (Hoa, 1997). In
Nigeria, sweet potato is traditionally stored in the house, heaped on the floor or laid on the
shelf. Fires are lit once or twice weekly to fumigate the roots which are often covered with
ashes having antifungal properties. Losses of up to 95% were observed in this method
(Olorunda, 1979). In the Philippines, sweet potato stored in a trench 50 cm deep, covered
with sand and sheltered by a roof resulted in 35% decay and 45% sprouting after 50 days
(Mariscal, 1997). The storage of sweet potato roots in Indonesia after six months entailed
more than 50% loss (Yakub, 1997).
32 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

Sand / Cardboard Methods

Sand storage provided a modified atmospheric condition by limiting the supply of oxygen
and maintaining low temperature as well as a barrier for entry of sweet potato weevils. Sweet
potato stored in sand suffered less weight loss than those stored under ambient conditions
(Ray et al., 1994). Sweet potato roots stored in sand could be stored for up to 45 days without
significant loss.
Storage in closed cardboard cartoons placed on the soil surface or on rocks covered with
grass resulted in mean weight losses of 29.2 to 34.9% and mean sprouting of 5.3 and 44.4%,
respectively (Data and Quevedo, 1987). Cured sweet potato could be stored for five months
by disinfecting the roots by means of fogging with 1% iprodione. The percentage decay after
five months after the treatment was 5-14%, compared with 61% in non-treated roots (Afek et
al., 1998, 1999).

Cool Chamber Method

Evapourative cool chamber consists of a double walled brick, 4 x 1.5 x 1.5 m size and the
gap between the brick wall filled with sand. Here, the sand layer was always kept moist so as
to keep the chamber cool (22-27oC). Storing sweet potato inside the cool chamber could
significantly increase the shelf-life as compared to ambient conditions inside the concrete
room on the floor. In this study, the mean shelf- life of six varieties of sweet potato was 33
days and 39 days under ambient and cool chamber conditions respectively (Shedge et al.,
2009). Pre-harvest, foliar spraying of maleic hydrazide (MH, 1000 ppm), at 60, 90 and 105
days (3 sprays) significantly reduced rotting and sprouting of sweet potatoes and increased
the shelf life of sweet potato to 37 and 44 days when stored under ambient and cool chamber
conditions, respectively.

Cold Storage of Shredded Sweet Potatoes Using Modified Atmospheric


Package

Recently, there is an increasing demand for freshly cut vegetables at the consumer level.
Simple and minimal processing operations including washing, peeling, trimming, cutting and
packaging maintains the freshness of commodities (Alzamora et al., 2000). In the presence of
air, the shelf- life of perishable produce is limited by two principal factors: (1) metabolic
deterioration of the tissue and (2) growth of aerobic spoilage microorganisms.
Microbiologically, commodities are considered to be at the end of their shelf- life when the
total aerobic counts reach 107 – 109 cfu (colony forming units)/g, the yeast count reach 105
cfu/g or there is visible mould growth (Curlee, 1997). High microbial counts (>108 cfu/g) in
combination with physical damage and physiological stress due to poor processing result in
undesirable quality changes such as loss of firmness, off-odours and product slimness.
Therefore, it is important to control such factors to ensure an extended shelf life for freshly
cut products (McConnell et al., 2005).
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 33

Several treatments including blanching, antimicrobial agents (chlorine and Tsunami


200R), anti-browning substances (citric acid, ascorbic acid and sulfite) and modified
atmospheric package (MAP) showed that freshly cut sweet potatoes can be stored up to two
weeks under refrigerated conditions without significant changes in quality (McConnell et al.,
2000; Erturk and Picha 2002; Cobo et al., 2003). Furthermore, the quality of sweet potatoes
shredded into 3 x 3 mm pieces could be maintained for 7 days at 4oC in air, but extended up
to 14 days using moderately O2 permeable film (7000 cm3/atm/m2/24 h) in a modified
atmosphere of 5% O2, 4% CO2 and 91% N2 (MAP). Shredded sweet potatoes stored in MAP
showed fewer changes in tissue firmness, dry matter, ascorbic acid, color, ß-carotene, sugars
and starch than shredded sweet potatoes stored in air. Higher ethanol was generated in the
MAP-stored shredded sweet potatoes after 10 days, but off-odours were not detected in any of
the MAP-stored sweet potatoes (McConnell et al., 2005).

Cold Storage

Sweet potatoes can be best stored at temperatures between 12 and 15oC at 85 to 95%
relative humidity (RH) without loss of quality for up to one year (Woolfe, 1992; Ravi et al.,
1996). From the above discussion, it is apparent that there have been quite a number of
reports of different storage conditions affecting shelf-life of sweet potato particularly in
tropical environment, but what is lacking is a systematic of which factors are important and
which is not. These points are discussed in the following section.

CAUSES OF POST HARVEST LOSS


Sweet potato roots have high moisture (60-70 %) and reducing sugar (4-15 %) content,
and a relatively thin and delicate skin (Woolfe, 1992). They also have a high respiratory rate
immediately after harvest and the resultant heat production soften the texture. All these
attributes make them a highly ‗perishable‘ commodity. As a consequence, once detached
from the plant, sweet potato cannot be stored for a long time. The shelf- life of sweet potato
roots varies from a few days to few weeks according to the cultivar, conditions prevailing at
the time of harvest, and storage. Because of a very short shelf - life, storage of sweet potato
roots is avoided in many parts of the world. In most countries, larger roots are removed from
individual plants leaving smaller roots to increase in size and harvested sequentially when
needed. In the tropics, storage roots are often left for a short period in the sunlight after
harvest and surface dried. Such roots are either consumed at home within 8-10 days or
transported to local markets for sale (Ray and Balagopalan, 1997). However, exposure of
storage roots to direct sunlight before storage appears to cause more harm leading to
excessive loss of moisture causing tissue breakdown. Further, lack of proper curing, packing
and improper storage conditions causes skinning, wounding, desiccation and infection by
fungi resulting in substantial post harvest losses (Ray and Ravi, 2005). Sweet potato is an
important staple crop in Tanzania, grown mainly for home consumption, but marketing is
becoming increasingly important (Mtunda et al., 2001). The short shelf- life is a major
constraint for marketing. Rees et al. (2001) proposed that the short shelf- life of sweet potato
34 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

was due to breakage, cuts, infestation by weevils, rotting and superficial damages. All these
together accounted for 41 to 93% of root damage when sweet potato arrived in the urban
Tanzanian markets. The various causes of post harvest losses of sweet potato (Table 1) are
discussed below.

Physical Factors

Physical factors mostly refer to pre-harvest and harvest conditions. Pre- harvest
conditions include principal soil factors such as moisture, temperature etc. The importance of
these soil factors varies with agro-ecology. For example, cold has been a constraint only at
high altitude (above 2,200m) (Ray and Ravi, 2005). Likewise, excess soil moisture (40%) in
the field can cause subsequent post harvest loss (Ray and Ravi, 2005).

1. Mechanical Damage
Mechanical damage is the most important harvest factor, much of which is sustained
during harvest itself, and during transport and marketing. Harvesting in the tropics is usually
manual, employing a variety of tools such as digging sticks, spades, hoes and knives.
Mechanical harvesting using tractors or animal-drawn ploughs or specially designed
machines are confined to areas of large-scale production. Sweet potato roots are often cut,
skinned and bruised by the harvesting implements. Sweet potato roots found to be damaged
during harvesting using spade was 26% and 24% in Bangaladesh and India, respectively
(Jenkins, 1982; Ray and Balagopalan, 1997). A similar estimate for the percentage of
damaged roots have been reported for some parts of China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea,
and Tanzania where hoes are mostly used for harvesting (Ray and Ravi, 2005). An ‗electronic
sweet potato‘ fitted with a shock sensor has been used to track sacks of sweet potato in
Tanzania and could be applicable to countries where roots are transported by different means
such as lorry, motor cycle, cart etc., over rough road surface to markets, increased root
damage and loss of quality frequently results (Tomlins et al., 2000). The practice of overfilled
heaps or use of polypropylene sacks for transportation and storage have led to physical
damage which can be prevented if fewer roots were carefully packed in cardboard boxes,
cartoons or crates (Rees et al., 2001; Tomlins et al., 2002).

2. Chilling Injury
Cold wet soils of temperate climate before harvest or subsequent exposure to temperature
below 13oC cause chilling damage resulting in tissue breakdown and development of off-
flavour. Chilling also renders the roots more susceptible to attack by microorganisms such as
fungi. Sweet potatoes which have not been properly cured are less able to withstand low
temperatures than are well-cured roots (Broadus et al., 1980).

3. Cracking
Cracking may be caused by nematodes which are microscopic soil inhabitants. Crack
initiated early in the growing season are long and deep, while those induced at a latter stage
tend to be smaller but are more likely to be infected with microorganisms. Shrinkage and
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 35

decay ensue during storage. Control measures include crop rotation, selection of nematode –
free planting materials and the use of resistant cultivars (Lawrence et al., 1986).

Physiological Factors

1. Respiration
In sweet potato, respiration and transpiration contribute to loss in weight and alteration of
internal and external appearance. Transpiration losses are due to evapourative loss of the
cellular water caused by vapour pressure difference between the root interior and the outside
environment. Most of the works indicated that respiration was highest immediately after
harvest than during curing or storage (Picha, 1986; Walter et al., 1989; Afek and Kays, 2004).
Wounding of sweet potato roots resulted in an increase in both the respiration rate and
subsequent weight loss. Rate of respiration increased in sweet potato roots exposed to a cool
temperature of 10oC and a strong relation between respiration and eventual expression of
chilling injury was established. Sweet potato roots having 58-78% moisture content showed a
low respiratory rate of < 0.5 mg of CO2 per gram dry weight per hour, whereas at moisture
levels >75% the rate increased drastically, reaching up to 2.0 mg CO2 per gram dry weight
per hour (Afek and Kays, 2004). This indicates that cultivars having low dry matter content
may have a shorter storage life. Sweet potato roots also showed an increased respiration in
response to ethylene at 20-35oC but showed a much reduced rate at lower temperature. All
these studies on respiration and consequently moisture loss were conducted in temperate
conditions. However, respiration losses are much greater under tropical conditions. For
example, in Bangladesh, the high temperature (< 35o C) and low RH (40%) during summer
result in high rate of respiration and rapid evapouration of moisture through the root skin
(Jenkins, 1982).
Furthermore, loss of moisture leads to a condition known as ‗pithiness‘ in which cavities
appear within the tissues. Prolonged moisture losses, as occur in tropical conditions, could
result in collapse of tissues which begins at the distal end of the roots and may ultimately
cause total desiccation, especially in small sized roots (Picha, 1986).

2. Sprouting
Sprouting in sweet potato roots occurs very quickly especially when soil moisture is high
and the harvest is delayed. It also occurs during prolonged storage in conditions of high
temperature and humidity. In the tropics, sprouts are generally broken off as they appear (Ray
and Ravi, 2005; Shedge et al., 2008). Sprouting can be suppressed / inhibited by storing the
roots at relatively cool temperature (14o C) (Ray and Ravi, 2005). The other methods for
suppressing sprout formation are gamma irradiation and application of growth regulators.
Exposure to gamma irradiation (0.03-0.15 kGy) markedly suppressed sprouting. In
unirradiated samples, 100% roots sprouted after one-month storage whereas those treated
with 0.05 kGy gamma radiation showed 2.5 and 9% sprouting after one and five months,
respectively (Lu et al., 1987, 1989).
Besides gamma irradiation, growth regulators were found effective as sprout
suppressants. Sprouting was reduced in roots, stored for four to eight months with treatment
of maleic hydrazide (Jenkins, 1982). Gautam et al. (1991) studied the effect of growth
36 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

regulators at concentrations between 1000-3000 ppm by dipping sweet potato roots for five
minutes. Naphthalene acetic acid at all concentrations either delayed or inhibited sprouting
and reduced cumulative weight loss during storage. Ethrel (2 –chloroethyl phosphonic acid)
enhanced both sprouting and rooting. Maleic hydrazide delayed sprouting, but more sprouts
were produced latter. Cycocel had no significant effect on sprouting. Sprout numbers were
significantly reduced by treatment with 3.0 - 9.0% (weight by volume) sodium hypochlorite
solution after 102 days of storage, but weight loss was high (Lewthwaite and Triggs, 1995).
Sprouting was 99% reduced when roots were stored in diffused light in hut made of bamboo
(Icamina, 1985).

Biological Factors

Pests

1. Weevils
In most parts of the tropics and subtropics, one of the most serious problems in storage is
the sweet potato weevil (SPW) (Cylas formicarius Fabricius) and two closely relates species
(C. puncticollis Boheman, and C. brunneus) (Sutherland, 1986). Cylas puncticollis is confined
to several countries in Africa. However, C. formicarius is more cosmopolitan, being
distributed all over the sweet potato growing regions (Smit and Matenogo, 1995; Uritani,
1998). The insect feeds on the vines of the growing crop and migrates down to the roots and
infests those roots near the soil surface. Moreover, phenolics of unspecified chemical
composition increased significantly for up to 14 days in roots fed upon by adult weevil or
larvae (Padmaja and Rajamma, 1982). This coincided with the development of an unpleasant
turpentine odour and a bitter taste in the roots. The bitter taste was due to production of
phytoalexins such as ipomeamarone and ipomeamaranol (Uritani, 1998). Regardless of the
toxicity of this compound, the unpleasant odour makes sweet potato less acceptable for
human consumption.

Control Measures
Integrated pest management (IPM) programme and some pre-harvest cultural practices
are mostly followed in various sweet potato growing countries for controlling weevils. These
include the use of terminal vine cuttings as planting material, hilling up of soil, sex
pheromone traps, irrigation, dipping planting materials in insecticide solution and early
harvest (Smit, 1997). Weevil population starts between 2 and 3rd month of the crop and
increases rapidly with age of the crop. Although, it attacks all parts of the crop, the main
damage is done to the roots by the larvae both in the field and during storage. The pest can
breed successfully inside the roots with repeated cycles if there is sufficient food available.
The root damage is influenced by season, method of planting, soil type, temperature, rainfall,
soil moisture, time of harvest and also cropping pattern (Palaniswami et al., 1990). In India,
up to 79% of produce may have weevil infestation (Pillai 1994). In farmer‘s fields in India,
root damage was greater in upland (4-50%) than in lowland (0-22%) conditions because of
better soil moisture in the latter. The weevil population and root damage was comparatively
lower during rainy season or irrigated conditions and higher during summer season or rainfed
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 37

conditions (Palaniswami et al., 1990). When soil moisture is high, the weevil cannot get
access to the roots easily through moist soil. Sweet potato planted during rainy season showed
lowest weevil incidence (10.9 to 36.5%) whereas those planted during dry season had 47.9 to
87.4% weevil incidence. Dry spell throughout the cropping period results in depletion of soil
moisture which favours weevil activity. Similarly, delayed harvest also increases weevil
infestation. Therefore, weevil free, better quality sweet potatoes can be produced through
adequate irrigation and early harvest (Pillai, 1994).
In the case of Cylas puncticollis survival of all the life-stages of sweet potato weevil was
greater between 24 and 31oC and lower at 18 or 16oC (Nteletsana et al., 2001). Therefore,
weevils can be effectively controlled if the storage temperature was lowered to 16 -18oC
because it is not able to accumulate enough thermal units required to complete development.
Furthermore, roots immersed in hot water at 52 – 62 oC for 10 min or 42 oC for 30 min could
kill all larvae and adult weevils (CIP, 1997; Das, 1998). Ali et al. (1991) reported partial
control of weevils using a repellant water trap baited with synthetic pheromone and storage in
dry sand mixed with tobacco leaf powder. Sweet potato roots heaped on the floor and covered
with a 2-cm thick layer of sand and rice husks were either free from infestation or had
negligible infestation after three months of storage (Smit, 1997).
Gamma radiation between 150-200 Gy had no effect on surface injury or storage decay
when roots were evaluated after one month storage at 13 oC and 90% R.H (Sharp, 1995).
During storage, weight loss by irradiated roots was 0.5 to 3.3% more than that of non- treated
ones. In some instances, this affected root firmness. An irradiation dose of 150-165 Gy has
been recommended for sterilizing female weevils to reduce reproduction and further
multiplication and life time (Hallman, 2001; Follett 2006). All stages of the sweet potato
weevil may be found in marketed roots. The adult is invariably the stage of insects which
requires the highest radiation dose to control (Hallman, 2000). Vapour heat treatment kill
SPW pupae in roots (Shimabukuro et al. 1997). Delate and Brecht (1989) and Delate et al.
(1990) conducted studies on controlled atmosphere for the control of weevil in stored sweet
potatoes. They identified that adults of sweet potato weevil or sweet potato roots infested with
immature stages of the pest were exposed to controlled atmospheres containing low oxygen
(O2) and increased carbon dioxide (CO2) with a balance nitrogen (N2) for up to 10 days at 25
and 300C. Adults were killed within 4-8 days when exposed to 8% O2 + 40-60% CO2 at 300C.
When baked, irradiated sweet potato roots were sweeter than non-irradiated roots but
they were not preferred due to the darker appearance (McGuire and Sharp, 1995). The
entemopathogenic fungi, Metarrhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana were found to be
effective in controlling weevils. However, in the drier regions of Africa, B. bassiana had
limited potential for weevil control (Alcazar et al., 1997). In the traditional agricultural
systems in the tropics and sub-tropics where inputs are low, the use of weevil resistant
varieties is the most economic way of effectively controlling weevils. Several attempts have
been made during the past five decades to find resistance to this pest with limited success
(Collins et al., 1991; Yasuda, 1997). Significant variations in the amounts of triterpenoid
boehmeryl acetate (a known ovipositional stimulant for the pest) were found before and after
harvest, with season and between cultivars which are resistant and susceptible to SPW (Son et
al., 1991).
Mass trapping of male weevils by sex pheromone trap (Figure 1) is one of the most
effective IPM practiced in many sweet potato-growing countries. Its female -produced sex
pheromone was identified as (Z) –3- dodecenyl (E)-2- butenoate. Control programs involving
38 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

mass trapping of male weevils have been used with limited success in many Asian countries
(Ray and Ravi, 2005). The intensity of trapping used varied from 4 traps/ha to 100 traps/ha.
Similar results were obtained using pheromone traps against C. puncticollis and C. brunneus
(Pillai et al., 1993; Smit, 1997; Braun and van de Fliert, 1999).

Figure 1. Sex pheromone trap used for capturing male sweet potato weevils at CTCRI farm at
Bhubaneswar (Source: Ray and Ravi, 2005).

2. Other Pests
Apart from sweet potato weevils, there are nearly 80 species of arthropods infesting
sweet potato in storage. The three most important are coffee bean weevils (Araeceras
fasciculatus), black fungus beetle (Alphithobius laevigatus) and ground beetle (Gonocephalm
sweet potato.) (Talekar, 1987). The first two pests damage the roots completely and cause
decay while the ground beetle feeds on the periderm by making irregular galleries. Infestation
by A. fasciculatus is generally associated with stored roots, which are soft, or in a state of
decay. Treating sweet potato chips with 2-3 % salt prior to drying controls damage by A.
fasciculatus in dried chips in storage.

Diseases
Pre harvest and post harvest infections by pathogenic microorganisms (mostly fungi and
to a lesser extent bacteria) are serious causes of post harvest loss of sweet potato roots
(Snowdon, 1991). The relative importance of the major pathogens can differ considerably
between localities and with environmental conditions (Ray, and Byju, 2003). Different post
harvest diseases (Table 2) are described below in brief.

1. Black Rot
Black rot, caused by Ceratocystis fimbriata, has been a problem wherever sweet potato is
intensively grown. Most references of this rot are from USA, New Zealand and Japan (Clark,
2001), although the disease has virtually been eliminated by use of thiabendazole fungicides
on seed roots and by cutting transplants above the soil line. Nevertheless, it is still considered
as an important post harvest disease in other tropical, and sub-tropical regions such as Papua
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 39

New Guinea, Haiti and Peru and Vietnam. However, the rot has not been reported from sweet
potato growing Asian countries like Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan (Ray and
Edison, 2005). The characteristic symptoms of disease are sunken circular lesions, which are
initially brown and latter greenish black, and the cooked roots taste bitter. Associated with
lesions are minute black bodies (perithecia) with long necks. Infection occurs through wounds
or even in healthy roots, and favoured by wet soil, and warm temperatures.

Table 2. Microorganisms associated with sweet potato rots in the tropics


(Ray and Ravi, 2005; modified)

Types of rot Causative Symptoms Pre-disposing Avoidance/control


organism factors measures

Black rot Ceratocystis Sunken circular lesions Wet soil, humid Crop rotation,
filmbriata initially brown and later and warm careful handling of
greenish black. temperature, roots, heat
Associated with lesions contamination in treatment for no
are minute black bodies seed roots more than 24 h
(perithecia) with long and curing at 35oC
necks, appeared to for 2 to 10 days.
naked eye as dark Cultivation of
bristles resistant varieties.
Java black rot Botryodiplodia Infected tissues are at Wounding Curing and
theobroame first yellowish brown during subsequent storage
and fairly firm, later harvesting and at a temperature
darkening to black. handling between 13-16oC;
After some weeks, cultivation of
affected roots become resistant varieties
mummified and skin is
pimpled with minute
black bodies (pycnidia)
Fusarium rot Fusarium spp. Type of decay is Wounding Minimizing injury
variable. End rot is during harvest during harvesting
characterized by a dry and handling, and handling,
decay at one or both infected roots curing, cultivation
ends of fleshy roots. used as seed, of resistant
Infected tissues shrivel, infestation by varieties
forming cavities filled weevils
with white molds
Charcoal rot Macrophomina Infected roots show Wounding Minimizing injury
phascolina three zones- the during harvesting
advancing edges of the and handling, and
lesion is pale brown curing
and spongy,
intermediate zone is
reddish brown and firm
and the older part is
almost black (micro
sclerotia)
40 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

Table 2. (Continued)

Types of rot Causative Symptoms Pre-disposing Avoidance/contr


organism factors ol measures

Rhizopus rot Rhizopus spp. Decay beings at one end Wounds during Careful
and under humid post harvest handling, curing,
conditions, roots shrivel, handling, R.H. cultivation of
become soft and watery (75-85%), high resistant
and the skin ruptures. temperature varieties
The mold spreads (< 35oC)
causing next of decay.
Sclerotium rot Sclerotium rolfsii Circular lesions, Wounds during Careful
sometimes internal post harvest handling curing
tissues becoming water- handling, warm
soaked yet firm later moist conditions
hand and stringly (R.H. 75,-85%;
temperature
<35oC)
Spongy rot Cochliobolus Infected roots swollen Wounding, warm Careful
lunatus and spongy and humid handling, curing
(Curvularia environment
lunata)
Rhizoctonia Rhizoctonia Pale brown spot on skin, Wounding, warm Careful
rot solani tend to shrivel and humid handling, curing
environment
Gliomastix rot Gliomastix Lesions appear as brown Wounding, warm Careful
novae-zelandiae corky tissue and humid handling, curing
environment
Foot rot Plenodomus Lesions appear as brown Wounding, warm Careful
destruen corky tissue and humid handling, curing
environment
Bacterial rot Erwinia Roots become soft and Hot, humid Cultivation of
crhrysanthemi watery similar to weather Resistant variety
Rhizopus rot but differ
by the absence of
mycelia

2. Java Black Rot


Java black rot is caused by Botryodiplodia theobromae, the most prominent storage
disease in tropical and sub tropical regions such as Bangladesh, India, Philippines, Nigeria,
Ghana and the sub-tropical zone of USA (Ray and Punithalingam, 1995; Sowley and Oduro,
2002; Ray and Edison, 2005). The rot usually spreads from the proximal end of the root or
from other wound sites. The infected tissues are initially yellowish brown, and latter become
black. After 6- 8 weeks of storage, the affected roots show dark patches externally, within
which develop numerous pycnidia, and internally the tissues turn yellow, and latter black.
Finally, the rotted roots become shriveled, brittle and mummified (Figure 2). Wounding is the
most important pre-disposing factor for Botryodiplodia infection. The optimum temperature
and R.H. for growth of B. theobromae are 25-350 C and 85-90 %, respectively.
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 41

Figure 2. Characteristics of java black rot in sweet potato roots caused by Botryodiplodia theobroame
(a) Cut sections of healthy and infected roots (b) Infected roots showing drk coloured pycnidia. (c)
Mummified roots (Source: Ray and Ravi, 2005).
42 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

3. Soft Rot
Soft rot in sweet potato is caused by Rhizopus stolonifer, R. oryzae and R. nigricans. The
rot is widespread in all sweet potato growing countries of temperate as well as in tropical
regions (Ray et al., 1997; Sowley and Oduro, 2002; Ray and Edison, 2005). Affected roots
usually decay totally due to rapidly developing soft and watery rot. Dry atmospheric
conditions do not favour decay, and the root tissue remains firm but shrinks whereas in humid
conditions, the roots shrivel, becomes soft and watery, and at places where the skin ruptures
there is copious development of coarse white mould bearing globular spore head (sporangia)
(Figure 3). The sporangia are at first white but turn black as they mature, and the entire
mycelium appears gray. Further colonization of the entire rot can occur within a few days and
the mould spread to adjacent roots in a storage pile causing ‗nest of decay‘. Wounds
predispose the roots to be attacked and the proximal end is especially susceptible to invasion
because the natural presence of dead tissue at the site of wound caused at the time of harvest
is advantageous to the fungus. The other pre–disposing factors for Rhizopus infection in sweet
potato are R.H. (75-85%), chilling, and high temperature (< 350 C).

Figure 3. Characteristics of Rhizopus rot in sweet potato roots caused by Rhizopus oryzae. (a) Infected
roots showing soft-rot (b) Cut section of the infected root (Source: Ray and Ravi, 2005).
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 43

4. Fusarium Rot
Fusarium species causes ―Fusarium root rot‖ in sweet potato. The common species found
in sweet potato roots are F. solani, F. oxysporum, F. moniliforme and F. pallidoroseum
(Sowley and Oduro, 2002; Ray and Edison, 2005). F. oxysporum and F. solani have been
recorded on sweet potato in the USA, Brazil, China, India and Israel, while F. pallidoroseum
is reported only from India (Ray and Misra, 1995). The type of decay is rather variable. End
rot caused by F. oxysporum and F . pallidoroseum is characterized by a dry decay at one or
both ends of the fleshy roots, and the lesions are brown with dark margins. Infected roots
shrink, sometimes forming cavities filled with white mould (Figure 4). On the other hand,
surface rot caused by F. solani appears as pale brown, circular lesions, and the decay remains
shallow with white mould. Severe wounding caused by rough handling at harvest, and
improper storage resulting in slow wound healing increase the incidence of this disease. Also,
wet soil conditions favour the spread of the disease. The disease does not generally spread
during storage except when additional wounding occur which provide new infection sites.
The pre-disposing factors for Fusarium infection are soil water deficit, mechanical injuries,
and insect infestations.

Figure 4. Characteristics of Fusarium rot in sweet potato roots caused by Fusarium oxysporum. (a)
Infected roots showing soft-rot (b) Cut section of the infected root (Source: Ray and Ravi, 2005).
44 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

5. Charcoal Rot
Macrophomina phaseolina causes ―charcoal rot‖ in sweet potato roots. The disease is
wide spread in tropics (Jenkins, 1982), but is less severe as compared to Java black rot or
Fusarium rot. Decay of harvested roots usually begins at the point of original attachment to
the plant (proximal end) and spreads through the roots. Initially the infected roots show
variously shaped, and sized pale brown discoloration of the surface with distinct margin from
healthy tissues. Diseased areas remain firm, and dark brown; water loss causes these areas to
shrink. Rotting root shows three distinct zones. The advancing edge has a pale brown and
spongy tissue; the intermediate zone has reddish brown and firm tissue; the old rotted area has
dark Grey to black, and firm tissue. The ‗charcoal‘ appearance results from thousands of
minute micro-sclerotia that colonize the interior, but not the surface of the root. Infection
occurs through injury. Optimum temperature for growth of the fungus is 31.5oC but it grows
even at 42oC.

6. Sclerotium Rot
Sclerotium rolfsii causes two diseases of sweet potato: ‗Slerotial blight‘, which develops
on sprouts, and mother roots in plant production bed, and ‗sclerotium rot‘ which develops
circular spots on stored roots (Clark, 2001). The disease has been recorded from Bangladesh,
Cuba, Jamaica, Israel, Mozambique and USA. The symptoms of decay may be variable. The
rotting may appear as circular lesions of about one- cm diameter or may be invasive, and the
root tissue, which initially remains water soaked but firms latter, becomes hard, and stringy.

7. Spongy Rot
Spongy rot is caused by the fungus Cochliobolus lunatus (also Curvularia lunata). It has
been reported from India (Ray and Misra, 1995). The infected roots are swollen and spongy,
and the inside flesh turns brown to black.

8. Rhizoctonia Rot
This rot is caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia solani, and has been reported from India
(Ray and Edison, 2005). Infected roots develop pale brown spots, and tend to shrivel.
Eventually, the entire root surface may be covered win brownish mould.

9. Gliomastix Rot
This rot is caused by the fungus Gliomastix novae – zelandiae. It has been reported in
Egypt (Kararah et al., 1981). Lesions appear as irregular brown corky tissues usually slightly
depressed. In a humid atmosphere, there is copious growth of black mould with abundant
spores (conidia). Optimum temperature and R.H. for the disease development are 270 C and
84-100 % respectively.

10. Foot Rot


Foot rot is caused by Plenodomus destruen. It affects the roots in plant production beds,
and in the field. It has been reported from USA (Clark, 2001) and Brazil (Rubin et al., 1994).
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 45

11. Pythium Rot


It is a major rot of sweet potato in Australia and USA, particularly in cool wet weather,
and the causal agent is Pythium ultimum (Ray and Edison, 2005). Infected roots may become
dry and crumbly, dark brown to dark gray in color or the decay may spread uniformly through
the roots or may appear as a band of dark shrunken tissue which girdles the root.

12. Bacterial Rot


Erwinia chrysanthemi causes ‗Erwinia soft rot‘ of sweet potato roots in tropical as well as
in temperate regions. Erwinia soft rot is similar to Rhizopus soft rot but primarily
distinguished from the latter by the absence of mycelia. Roots infected with Erwinia develop
black streaks in the vascular tissue and undergo a soft moist decay (Ray and Edison, 2005).

Biochemical Changes Associated with Fungal Rots


Microbial spoilage of sweet potato roots is manifested with changes in starch, total
sugars, organic acids, enzymes, phenols, ethylene, and phytoalexin contents.

1. Changes in Starch, Total sugars, Protein and Organic Acids


One of the first parameter noticed following fungal decay of sweet potato is a decline in
starch and ascorbic acid contents (Ray and Pati, 2001). The decline in starch content is either
associated with concomitant increase (Acedo et al., 1996) or negligible variation (Ray and
Pati, 2001) in total sugar. Like wise, the ascorbic acid contents of four sweet potato varieties
was reported to decrease further following infection by B.theobromae or R. oryzae
(Thompson, 1979; Ray and Pati, 2001).
Oxalic acid concentration was reported to increase significantly in microbial infected
tissues (Faboya et al., 1983). The increase in oxalic acid was suggested to aid pathogen
penetration by sequestering Ca or Mg in the middle lamella of cell walls, thereby increasing
susceptibility of pectates to hydrolysis by cell wall degrading enzymes, i.e. cellulases and
pectinases (Swain and Ray, 2007). Oxalic acid may also lower the pH of the tuber tissues to a
level suitable for pathogenic enzyme degradative activity.

2. Proline and Carotenoids


There is no significant change in proline content between healthy and fungus (Rhizopus
or Botryodiplodia) – infected sweet potato roots (Ray and Pati, 2001), although proline
accumulation is considered as a measure of stress imposed on plant or plant parts (roots) due
to adverse environments such as drought, temperature or microbial infection. On the contrary,
roots infected with R. stolonifer contained only 24mg carotenoids /100 g (fwb) as compared
with 50mg /100g in uninfected sweet potato roots (Thompson, 1979).

3. Enzyme Activities
In response to wounding of sweet potato by rotting fungi, many enzymes are induced.
The enzymes first activated belong to those in the phenyl propanoid pathway i.e.
phenylalanine ammonia–lyase( PAL) and trans-cinnamic acid 4-hydroxylase (Uritani, 1998).
Peroxidase and polyphenol oxidase activities were reported to subsequently increased (Arinze
and Smith, 1982). Likewise, most of the rotting fungi i.e. B. theobroamae and R. oryzae
produce cellulolytic and pectolytic enzymes in microbial cultures and infected tissues (Arinze
46 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

and Smith, 1982; Ray, 2003) that facilitated pathogen entry into sweet potato roots (Ray,
2003).

4. Polyphenol Production
There are many reports that phenol concentration increases several folds in sweet potato
roots following microbial infections (Uritani, 1998, 1999). Total phenolic content was
generally higher in and around the lesions of sweet potato infected by B. theobramae, Botrytis
cineria, or Rhizopus oryzae (Arinze and Smith, 1982; Mohapatra et al., 2001; Ray, 1997).
Further, an increase in phenolic content in the infected tissues was associated with the
accumulation of the phytoalexins, ipomeamarone and ipomeamaranol (Arinze and Smith,
1980). The chemistry and biochemical interpretation of phytoalexin vis-à-vis pathogen
infection has been reviewed by several workers (Edward and Kessmann, 1992; Uritani et al.,
1994; Uritani, 1999).
Woolfe (1992) reported that the majority of phenolics in sweet potato are esters formed
between quinic acid and caffeic acid. These phenolic esters are O-dihydroxy phenols,
chlorogenic acid, isochlorogenic acids and related compounds (Thompson, 1981; Mohapatra
et al., 2001). The proposed biosynthetic pathway by which chlorogenic acid and
isochlorogenic acid may form in injured sweet potato roots has been outlined (Villegas and
Kojima, 1986). Polyphenols can act as antibiotics. Both chlorogenic acid and isochlorogenic
acid were found slightly inhibitory to the strains of C. fimbriata (Uritani, 1998) and B.
theobromae (Mohapatra et al., 2000).

5. Ethylene Formation
Ethylene evolves in plants in response to attack by microorganisms as well as wound
stress (Hyodo, 1991). Ethylene production in sweet potato roots greatly increased in response
to infection by fungi such as C. fimbriata (Okumura et al., 1999) and B. theobromae (Pati,
2001). Further, the rate of ethylene production increased correspondingly with the extent of
fungal penetration by using three strains of C. fimbriata differing in pathogenicity to sweet
potato roots (Hirano et al., 1991; Shima et al., 1996, 1997; Yoshioka et al., 2001). It is
concluded that ethylene production is induced in sweet potato roots by an injury stimulus
brought about by a consequence of fungal invasion, and mechanical wounding does not play
any role in this system (Okumura et al., 1999).

6. Phytoalexins
Phytoalexins were not present in fresh sweet potato roots, but they were produced by
microbial infection (Uritani, 1999) or weevil infestation (Padmaja and Rajamma, 1982). In
sweet potato roots, about 30 furanoterpenoid compounds were identified. Ipomeamarone is
the main component and recognized as the first example of a phytoalexin. These compounds
were investigated primarily to determine if they were responsible for toxicoses in animals fed
with ‗mouldy‘ sweet potato roots (Peckham et al., 1972; Pati, 2001). Further, sweet potato
genotypes vary considerably in synthesizing phytoalexins following microbial attack
(Jenkins, 1982).
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 47

CONTROL MEASURES
Rotting fungi have two means of entering the storage roots: through wounds caused
during harvest / weevil or insect infestations or through infected vines (used as propagating
materials). The following approaches have been made to control post harvest diseases.

Careful Handling

Any measure that reduces wounding the roots will help reduce spoilage (Miyazaki and
Ino, 1991). Handling of roots particularly during harvesting and transportation that reduces
injury is very important (Jenkins, 1982; Aidoo, 1993; Ray and Balagopalan, 1997). The
handling and transport system resulted in up to 20% and 86% of roots with severe breaks and
skinning injury respectively as reported in survey conducted in Tanzania (Tomlins et al.,
2000).

Curing

Despite best attention during post harvest handling of sweet potato, some wounding
inevitably occurs, even if only as a result of attachment of the roots from the vines. For
successful storage and marketing, it is necessary to subject the harvested roots to a
preliminary process of curing which has several beneficial effects such as sweetness and
palatability (Wang et al., 1998). Most important is that curing facilitates toughen the skin
(promoting wound periderm) and healing of wounds thereby reducing the risk of post harvest
infection and decay (Ray and Balagopalan, 1997; Sowley and Oduro, 2002). Environmental
conditions for proper curing include exposure of sweet potatoes to 29 + 1oC at 90-95% RH
for 4-7 days (Kays et al., 1992; Ray et al.; 1994; Ravi et al., 1996). These parameters are
more or less ambient in the hot and humid climates of tropical countries (Jenkins, 1981; Ray
et al., 1994; Ray and Balagopalan, 1997).
Recommended curing and storage practices are difficult to follow in many developing
countries because they involve high initial costs for construction of suitable facilities. A
simple technique for curing of sweet potato was innovated at Central Tuber Crops Research
Institute, India by covering the freshly harvested roots with a polythene sheet raised 6‖ – 8‖
above the tubers spread open in a well ventilated place (Ray and Balagopalan, 1997). The
polythene cover is removed during night. The system could generate 85-90% RH at
temperature 28-30oC during harvesting season in India (Sep-Nov / Feb – April) which are
very ideal for curing. By adapting this simple technology, the shelf life of sweet potatoes
increased 60% over uncured roots and fungal infection was drastically reduced (10%).
Curing induces suberization of exposed parenchyma cells and development of a wound
periderm (Afek et al., 1998). Following curing, storage at 14+ 1oC at 90% RH is generally
recommended (Kays et al., 1992). Other low cost curing processes such as storing sweet
potatoes in moist saw dust, plastic green house have been developed (Afek and Wiseblum,
1995; Lineberger and Stikeleather, 1998) but additional research in these areas is needed for a
meaningful conclusion.
48 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

Pre-harvest curing by removing the plant canopy up to 14 days before harvest has been
reported to make the harvested roots less susceptible to damage during harvesting and
transport (Tomlins et al., 2002) and improve the marketable shelf-life. Pre-harvest curing also
increased the recovery of marketable roots by 48% in roots that had been stored for 16 weeks
in either pits or heaps (Tomlins et al., 2007).

Irradiation

Exposing sweet potatoes to ultraviolet (UV) radiation effectively decreased the rotting
during storage. γ– irradiation 75 Gy was optimum for inhibiting sprouting of sweet potatoes
with lower decay and weight loss (Ravi et al., 1996).

Chemical Control

Since the roots are directly used as food or feed commodity in many countries (Woolfe,
1992), post harvest application of fungicides is generally avoided to prevent spoilage, as it
may imparts residue problem. Application of ά-naphthalene acetic acid (MENA) and maleic
hydrazide (MH) effectively controlled the sweet potatoes sprouting during storage
Application of benomyl, kocide 101, and captan prevented root rot. Dichloran could control
Java black rot and soft rot. Black rot could be controlled by treatment with thiabendazole
(TBZ) and benomyl. Captan could control surface rot while ferbam, captan, benomyl or TBZ
could control the scurf (Ravi et al., 1996). Some fungicides i.e. dichoronitroaniline (DCNA),
benomyl, dichloran, iprodione were found comparatively less effective in controlling various
microbial rots of sweet potato (Afek and Wiseblum, 1995; Afek et al., 1998, 1999). In the
case of shredded sweet potatoes, cut surfaces provides an entry point for bacteria and the
nutrient laden juices from fresh-cut surfaces support microorganisms growth. Chlorination
(dipping) of the whole sweet potato roots before slicing did not reduce the microflora build up
of shredded sweet potatoes. However, dipping slices in 200ppm chlorine at 1oC reduced the
population of all microorganisms (mesophiles, psychrophiles, yeast, and moulds) during
further storage for 14 days at 2oC (Ertuk and Picha, 2005).

Bio–Control

Biological control, primarily with antagonistic yeasts, has shown promise for control of
post harvest diseases of fruits and vegetables (Shi-ping-Tian, 2006). Ray and Das (1998)
reported complete growth inhibition in situ by three antagonistic yeast species, i.e.
Debaryomyces hansenii, Pichia anomala and Saccharomyces cerevisiae against
Botryodiplodia rot of sweet potato. Control of Rhizopus soft rot by UV irradiation (UV -C,
254 nm) and yeast D. hansenii were compared (Stevens et al., 1997). UV -C alone reduced
the incidence of all the storage rots (Stevens et al., 1990, 1997, 1999). If D. hansenii was used
2-3 days after UV -C treatment, the result was more significant. It was suggested that UV -C
and biological control agent could be used together as an alternative to chemical control of
storage rot in sweet potato.
Post Harvest Handling, Storage Methods, Pests and Diseases of Sweet Potato 49

Resin glucosides extracted from sweet potato periderm were found to inhibit growth of
four major rotting fungi, i.e. F. oxysporum, F. solani, R. stolonifer and B. theobromae
(Harrison et al., 2001; Stange et al., 2001). But, a relationship between such components and
disease resistance was not established.

Resistant Varieties

In temperate region, major emphasis is given on ‗storability‘ and post harvest rot
resistance in selecting breeding lines (Clark, 1992). Resistant breeding lines were recorded for
Botryodiplodia, Fusarium and Rhizopus spp. from several countries, i.e. Bangladesh (Jenkins,
1981), China (Chen et al., 1990), India (Ray and Naskar, 2000) and Peru (Cadenas and
Icochea, 1994). However, post harvest rots often occur together as a complex rot involving
many micro organisms; it is therefore, necessary to develop genotypes with broad spectrum
resistance to major post harvest pathogens. ‗White Regal‘, a multiple-pest and disease-
resistant, cream-fleshed sweet potato was developed jointly by U.S. Dept. of Agriculture,
Agricultural research Service and the South Carolina Agriculture and Forestry Research
System (Bohac et al., 2001)

Storage Techniques

Various cheap but effective storage methods are practiced in tropics for arresting fungal
decay and enhancing shelf- life of sweet potato roots. These methods are storage in pits, sand
bed, saw dust, earthen pots, heaps in corner of mud house (Jenkins, 1981; Ray and
Balagopalan, 1997).

CONCLUSION AND FUTURE PROSPECTS


Physical injury and infection through mother plants are found as two most significant
pre-disposing factors for rot to spread. The selection of roots that are free from rots, insect
damage and physical damage and storage are few selected practices, which can prevent
microbial attack and hence deterioration for significant period. Bio-control by antagonistic
yeasts can be an alternate approach for arresting microbial rots either singly or in combined
treatment with UV- irradiation but these are not widely used and may not be acceptable to
consumers. In temperate region, major emphasis is given on storability in selected breeding
lines. The same approach has been investigated in East Africa and can be adapted in tropical
countries like China, India and Philippines. Furthermore, post-harvest microbial rots often
occur together as a complex rot; it is necessary therefore, to develop genotypes with broad
spectrum resistance to major post harvest pathogens. Many of the genes which are up-
regulated or down-regulated during post harvest physiological deterioration of storage root
have been investigated in cassava (Huang et al., 2001; Reilly et al., 2007). However, genes
involved in controlling dormancy, post-harvest deterioration of storage root and resistance to
microbial infection are yet to be understood in sweet potato. Transgenic or genetically
50 Ramesh C. Ray, V. Ravi, Vinayak Hegde et al.

modified (GM) sweet potatoes offer potential for developing to produce anti-microbial
substances in the root skin. New transgenic sweet potatoes with prolonged dormancy can
attribute for longer shelf-life. However, GM sweet potatoes are not widely accepted either by
consumers or by legislation and policy in many countries. The mechanism of wound healing
is little understood and further research is warranted. Availability of simple indigenous
methods adopted for storing sweet potatoes by the local people in different parts of the world
may need to be explored. Research is needed for the control of post harvest pest and disease
of sweet potatoes. One possibility is to explore the potential of wild plants with antimicrobial
properties. Such wild plants can be either used for developing sweet potato varieties with
antimicrobial properties in roots through breeding or the extracts of their plant parts may be
used to control post-harvest pests and diseases of sweet potatoes.

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In: Sweet Potato: Post Harvest Aspects in Food ISBN 978-1-60876-343-6
Editors: R. C. Ray and K. I. Tomlins © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Chapter 3

PHYSIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS AND UTILIZATION


OF SWEET POTATO

Makoto Yoshimoto
Team of Crop Functionality and Utilization,
National Agricultural Research Center for Kyusyu Okinawa Region,
Suya 2421, Koshi City, Kumamoto 861-1192, Japan

ABSTRACT
Sweet potato contains various kinds of physiologically functional components,
polyphenolics, anthocyanins, fiber, and carotenoids in roots and leaves. Polyphenolic
contents vary between the varieties and are relatively superior to other commercial
vegetables. Polyphenolic components are mainly caffeoylquinic acid derivatives and the
pigments of the purple fleshed sweet potato are acylated anthocyanins. The functional
components show various kinds of physiological functions, anti-oxidation, anti-diabetes,
anti-hypertension, and others in vitro or in vivo.
The component content can be increased by the harvest time, the controlled storage,
and the use of moderate portion. The sweet potato roots or leaves with these functions are
commercially used as not only fresh vegetables but also as a material of confectionery,
noodles, alcohol drinks, and beverage. Further the waste of the shochu, a traditional
Japanese liquor, is reused as raw material of vinegar-like beverage and breads with high
content of polyphenolics. Sweet potato leaves also can be reused as functional feeds for
egg-laying hens and beef cattle.

ABBREVIATIONS
CA caffeic acid;
CQA caffeoylquinic acid;
ChA chlorogenic acid (3-O-caffeoylquinic acid);


Tel: 81-96-242-7873; Fax: 81-96-249-1002; E-mail:mak825@affrc.go.jp
60 Makoto Yoshimoto

4-O-CQA 4-O-caffeoylquinic acid;


3,4-diCQA 3,4-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid;
3,5-diCQA 3,5-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid;
4,5-diCQA 4,5-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid;
3,4,5-triCQA 3,4,5-tri-O-caffeoylquinic acid;
FA ferulic acid;
QA quinic acid;
Trp-P-1 3-amino-1,4-dimethyl-5H-pyrido-(4,3-b) indol

INTRODUCTION
Sweet potato represents the sixth most important food crop in the world and will be
important in solving the global issues of food, energy, and natural resources and the
environment in the 21st century (Kozai et al., 1996). Often called ―almost perfect nourishing
food‖ sweet potato contains vitamins, minerals and many other nutrients in favorable ratios
(Woolfe, 1992). Further, the sweet potato root has contributed to the development of the
regional industries mainly as raw materials for starch and shochu (traditional alcohol drinks in
Japan). However, demand for this crop is greatly declining due to diversified eating habits
and deregulated import of farm produce, which is seriously affecting the local economy.
Therefore, the National Agricultural Research Center for Kyushu Okinawa Region
(KONARC), Japan and other research institute are studying ways to enhance value addition
of sweet potato by finding new uses.
Sweet potato leaves have largely been neglected except for their partial use as livestock
feed in Japan and other Asian countries. The consumption of sweet potato leaves as a fresh
vegetable is common in some parts of the world (Villareal et al., 1979). Food scientists are
becoming increasingly interested in sweet potato leaves because it can contribute to
alleviating food shortages and makes good use of natural resources. As sweet potato leaves
can be harvested several times in a year, their yield is ultimately higher than many other leafy
vegetables (Nwinyi, 1992). Furthermore, as one of the few vegetables that can be grown
easily during the monsoon seasons of the tropics, sweet potato leaves are usually the only
greens available in some countries after a flood or a typhoon. They are rich in vitamin, iron,
calcium, zinc, and protein, and more tolerant of diseases, pests, and high moisture than many
other leafy vegetables grown in the tropics (Pace et al., 1985; Woolfe, 1992; Yoshimoto,
2001). People have a great need to maintain and improve their health through the food they
eat every day. Of three most important causes of death in Japan and other developed
countries, cancer, heart diseases and cerebrovascular diseases, are said to be closely related to
hypertension (Matsui, 2002). To prevent and alleviate these diseases, studies are exploring the
health-promoting functions of various agricultural products. However, there are only a few
studies concerning the sweet potato components that contribute to maintenance and
improvement in health. In the recent decade, active research has been conducted regarding its
health-promoting functions. These functions are important factors when developing new
processing methods of sweet potato. Sweet potato is also an important crop as an industrial
material for starch, sugar, and alcohol. Shochu is a traditional Japanese liquor made from rice,
sweet potato, and barley. Recently sweet potato shochu becomes very popular alcohol drink
Physiological Functions and Utilization of Sweet Potato 61

in Japan (Woolfe, 1992). Therefore, increases in shochu production have resulted in an


enormous output of distillery by-products. Some of these by-products have been used as
feedstuff (Mahfudz et al., 1996), but most have been discarded into the ocean. Dumping of
these by-products into the ocean becomes problematic from the perspective of environmental
protection. Optimal treatment of the distillery by-products is important for the success of
commercial shochu production. Hence, developing a new use for the shochu-distillery by-
products originating from the sweet potato is necessary from the standpoint both of the
economy and of environmental conversion. The chapter describes the possible physiological
functions, their related components, and utilizations of sweet potato roots, leaves and residues
for food or non-food purposes (Table 1).

Table 1. Physiological functions and their related components of sweet potato

Related
Function References
components
Cevallos-Casals and Cisneros-Zevallos
Polyphenol, (2003); Furuta et al., (1998); Hayase and
Anti-oxidation
anthocyanin Kato (1984); Islam et al., (2003a); Oki et
al., (2002); Yoshimoto et al., (2004)
Yoshimoto et al., (1999a); Yoshimoto et
Polyphenol,
Antimutagenicity al., (1999b); Yoshimoto et al., (2001);
anthocyanin
Yoshimoto et al., (2002a)
Polyphenol, Hou (2003); Hou et al., (2003); Kurata et
Anti-carcinogenesis
anthocyanin al., (2007); Hagiwara et al., (2002)
Mahmood et al., (1993); Tamura et al.,
Anti-HIV 3,4,5-triCQA
(2006)
Anti-Alzheimer‘s
diCQA Isoda et al., (2006)
disease

Anti-melanogenesis Polyphenol Shimozono et al., (1996)

Reduction of liver
Anthocyanin Suda et al., (1998)
injury

Anthocyanin Yoshimoto et al., (1998): Mishima et al.,


Anti-hypertension
polyphenol (2005); Ishiguro et al. (2007a, 2007b)

Fiber, pectin-like Islam and Jalaluddin (2005); Yoshimoto et


Antibacterial activity
polysaccharide al., (2006)
Promotion of Yoshimoto et al., (2005a, 2005b);
Fiber
Bifidobacterium growth Takamine et al., (2005)
Lowering cholesterol
Fiber Lund (1984)
level
Matsui et al., (2002); Matsui et al., (2004a,
Anthocyanin,
Anti-diabetes 2004b); Terahara et al., (2003); Yoshimoto
polyphenol
et al., (2006); Tsubata et al., (2004)
Lutein Ishiguro and Yoshimoto (2006); Okuno et
Eye protection
β-carotene al., (1998)
62 Makoto Yoshimoto

The physiological functions of the related components referred in the present chapter
have been demonstrated by in vitro or in vivo study. It should be noted that many of the other
physiological functions are proposed but are still undergoing research to explore these
potential benefits.

SWEET POTATO ROOT COMPONENTS


About 400 years ago, Chinese medical report shows that peoples who do not eat rice,
barley, and beans, but eat sweet potato roots have long life (Yamada, 1994). In Japan, sweet
potato has been cultivated as an emergency crop in the time of famine and has prevented
starvation several times (Duell, 1983). This means that sweet potato is not only an easily-
cultivated crop, but has also sustained the communities at times of food scarcity. The nutrient
composition of sweet potato roots is in details summarized by Woolfe (1992). Accordingly,
the root nutrient components particularly not concerned with physiological functions are not
described in the present chapter.

Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins are the chemical components that give the intense color to many fruits and
vegetables such as blueberries, purple sweet potatoes, red cabbage, and red grapes (Harborne
and Grayer, 1988; Mazza 1995). Anthocyanins are naturally present as glycosides having an
arabinose, glucose or galactose attached to the anthocyanidin nucleus, and thus there are more
than one hundred kinds depending on the glycoside structure. The purple-fleshed sweet potato
cultivar ―Ayamurasaki‖ for food colorant production is released by KONARC, Miyakonojo,
Japan in 1995 (Yamakawa et al., 1997).
The main pigments that accumulate in the storage roots of ―Ayamurasaki‖ are
anthocyanins with aromatic acyl groups (Odake et al., 1992; Goda et al., 1997; Terahara et
al., 1999). These anthocyanins possess high thermo- and photostability as compared with red
cabbage, elderberry, and purple corn (Odake et al., 1994; Tsukui et al., 1999). Anthocyanins
of the purple-fleshed sweet potato cultivars consist of mono- or di-acylated forms of cyanidin
(YGM-1a, -1b, -2, and -3) and peonidin (YGM-4b, -5a, -5b, and -6) (Figure 1) (Oki et. al.,
2002). Varieties of purple-fleshed sweet potato are classified as cyanidin- or peondin-rich
type by the ratio of peonidin and cyanidin contents in the storage root (Yoshinaga et al.,
1999). These differences affect the color hue of the paste, drinks, powder, and extracts of the
processed products made from the roots. Incidentally, ―Ayamurasaki‖, which is industrially
used as the materials of confectionary, beverage, natural colorants, alcohol drinks, and
noodles, is peonidin type (Yoshinaga et al., 1999).
Plant tissue culture offers an opportunity to produce large quantities of tissue in a factory
setting independent of environmental conditions. A high anthocyanin-accumulating cell line
has been generated from the storage root of sweet potato cultivar, ―Ayamurasaki‖ (Konczak-
Islam et al., 2000; Islam et al., 2002b; 2005). The cell line, due to its outstanding ability to
accumulate anthocyanin pigment in the dark, is considered a suitable source of natural food
colorant produced by the means of plant cell cultures.
Physiological Functions and Utilization of Sweet Potato 63

OR1
OH

HO O+

O
O
O O
OR3
HO OH O
R2 O
HO HO OH HO HO OH
OH
Storage root Cell line
Anthocyanin R1 R2 R3 Anthocyanin R1 R2 R3

YGM*-1a H caffeoyl p-hydroxy benzoic acid YGM-0a H H H

YGM-1b H caffeoyl caffeoyl YGM-0b CH 3 H H

YGM-2 H caffeoyl H YGM-0d H H caffeoyl

YGM-3 H caffeoyl ferulyl YGM-0f‘ H H p-coumaric acid

YGM-4b CH 3 caffeoyl caffeoyl YGM-0g H H ferulyl

YGM-5a CH 3 caffeoyl p-hydroxy benzoic acid YGM-0g‘ CH 3 H p-coumaric acid

YGM-5b CH 3 caffeoyl H YGM-0i CH 3 H ferulyl

YGM-6 CH 3 caffeoyl ferulyl YGM-3‘ H caffeoyl p-coumaric acid

*YGM is abbreviation of ―Yamagawamurasaki‖ with YGM-7a H p-coumaric acid p-coumaric acid

purple flesh. YGM-7e CH 3 p-coumaric acid p-coumaric acid

Figure 1. Chemical structure of sweet potato anthocyanin.

Through changes in the composition of culture medium as well as environmental factors,


the quality of in vitro accumulated anthocyanins can be regulated toward biosynthesis of
highly acylated or non-acylated components (Konczak-Islam et al., 2001; Terahara et al.,
2004) (Figure 1). The aqueous extract of the cell line exhibits higher antioxidative,
antimutagenic, and antiproliferation activities than extract produced from field-grown storage
root (Konczak-Islam et al., 2003).
Generally, anthocyanin pigments are unstable to light and high temperature (Konczak and
Zhang, 2004). Therefore, the stabilization of anthocyanin is significant in the viewpoint of the
practical use of the physiological functions. Anthocyanin with aromatic acyl groups are
reported to have improved stabilities (Hayashi et al., 1996). Anthocyanins in purple-fleshed
sweet potato are stabilized in a complementary manner by the polyphenolics in the root (Oki
et al., 2003).

Polyphenols

Chlorogenic acid (ChA) and three kinds of dicaffeoylquinic acid (diCQA) derivatives are
major polyphenolic components in the raw root of sweet potato varieties, ―Kokei No. 14‖ and
―Kintoki‖, while caffeic acid (CA) and 4-O-caffeoylquinic acid (4-O-CQA) are minor ones
(Hayase and Kato, 1984). ChA and diCQA are esters of quinic acid (QA) and bear one- and
64 Makoto Yoshimoto

two-caffeoyl groups (Figure 2). Currently, 3,4,5-triCQA which is an ester of QA and three-
caffeoyl groups is not detected in the roots but universally in the leaves of sweet potato.

HO OH OR
HOOC OH
O OH
HO OH
CA ChA
OH OR OR
OR HOOC OH OR
HOOC HOOC
HO OR HO OR HO OH
3,4-diCQA 3,5-diCQA 4,5-diCQA
OR
HOOC OR OH
R = caffeoyl group O OH
HO OR
3,4,5-triCQA

Figure 2. Chemical structure of sweet potato caffeoylquinic acid derivatives.

ChA and two kinds of diCQAs are major components and 4-O-CQA is a minor
component in the raw root of ―Jewel‖ (Walter et al., 1979). ChA and three kinds of diCQAs,
3,4-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid (3,4-diCQA), 3,5-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid (3,5-diCQA), and
4,5-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid (4,5-diCQA) exist, but not CA in the steamed root of
―Beniotome‖ (Shimozono et al., 1996). These reports suggest that there is a compositional
difference in CQA derivatives between the varieties of sweet potato roots, and that CA is not
a primary component in the raw or steamed root. Polyphenolics including ChA are abundant
in the outer tissue (about 80% of total polyphenolic content) of the sweet potato roots (Walter
et al., 1979). CA is a minor polyphenolic component in the raw or steamed root (Walter et al.,
1979; Shimozono et al., 1996), but a major one in the shochu-distillery by-products treated
with koji (Yoshimoto et al., 2004).
In order to clarify the origin of CA, polyphenolic composition was compared between the
raw and steamed root of the ―Koganesengan‖ variety, a material in shochu production
(Yoshimoto et al., 2004). ChA and 3,5-diCQA were dominant polyphenolics, while ChA, 3,4-
, 3,5-, and 4,5-diCQA, and unknown compounds existed in the steamed root. On boiling a
sample of 3, 5-diCQA or 3, 4-diCQA or 4, 5-diCQA, the formation of a mixture of the three
isomers, in approximately equivalent amounts, could be detected chromatographically
(Scarpati and Guiso, 1964). CA was not detected even in the steamed root, indicating that
steaming treatment did not vary ChA or 3, 5-diCQA to CA. CA production in the distillery
by-products depends on the hydrolysis of the CQA derivatives by koji enzyme (Yoshimoto et
al., 2005a). Storage conditions also influence the polyphenolic content (Picha, 1987).
Polyphenolic content and radical-scavenging activities of some sweet potato cultivars
increase during storage at low temperature (Ishiguro et al., 2007a). Further non-
caffeoylquinic acid component that increases in variety ‗J-Red‘ during storage is identified as
caffeoyl sucrose (Figure 3) (Ishiguro et al., 2007a). These results suggest that storage under
cultivar-dependent, controlled temperature is one approach for increasing desirable
physiologic function associated with the polyphenolic compounds in sweet potato roots.
O O
OH

OH
Physiological Functions and Utilization
OH of Sweet Potato 65
OH

O
HO
O OH

HO OH
HO
O
O

O OH
OH

OH
OH

Figure 3. Chemical structure of caffeoylsucrose.

Carotenoids

Vitamin A deficiency is a serious nutritional problem in many developing countries.


Millions of people suffer from this affliction, which leads to night blindness, xerophtalmia,
and prolonged deficiency can impair the immune system (Bates, 1995). Carotenoids represent
the most widespread group of naturally occurring pigments in nature.
There are a variety of flesh colors, such as white, yellow, orange and purple, in sweet
potato roots. β-Carotene (Kimura et al., 2006), luteochrome (β, β-carotene-5,6,5‘,8‘-
diepoxide) (De Almeida et al., 1986), and acylated anthocyanins (Yoshinaga et al., 1999) are
the principal pigments in orange flesh, white flesh, and purple flesh cultivars, respectively.
―Sunny Red‖ and ―J-Red‖ with orange flesh developed in the KONARC contain more than
about 14 mg β-carotene/100 g of edible part (Okuno et al., 1998). All 25 sweet potato
cultivars with orange-colored flesh show similar carotenoid composition, which consists of
mostly β-carotene, and its content of the sweet potato is more than several times of other
vegetables as carrot or pumpkin (Takahata et al., 1993).
There exists structural isomers, all-trans, 9-cis and 13-cis isomers for β-carotene and the
9-cis isomer has a higher antioxidant potency than that of the all-trans one (Levin and
Mokady, 1994). Ratio of 9-cis and 13-cis isomers to total β- carotene content are about 2.6%,
indicating that β-carotene isomer of the storage root in these varieties is almost all-trans one
(Yoshimoto et al., 2003). Recently, a series of carotenoids with a 5,6-dihydro-5,6-dihydroxy-
β-end group, named ipomoeaxanthins are identified from the flesh of deep yellow sweet
potato ―Benimasari‖ (Maoka et al., 2007). Physiological functions of these new
ipomoeaxanthins are unclear presently and expected to research positively in the future.

Fiber

In recent years, new varieties of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.) have been released for
the development of new uses from the KONARC, Miyakonojo, Japan. New products, such as
juice, powder, and brewed drinks, which are made from flesh-colored sweet potatoes, have
been made practicable (Yoshimoto, 2001). However disposition of the shochu waste, the
residue from starch industry, and the strained residue from the juice production is a critical
66 Makoto Yoshimoto

problem from the viewpoint of environmental protection. Residue from the starch industry of
sweet potato has been used as a material of citric acid fermentation. However, utilization of
this residue has become increasingly difficult, since the import of foreign-made cheep citric
acid. Therefore, development of new use of the residue from starch industry has been
demanded for a long time.
Sweet potato root has a well-balanced content of soluble and insoluble fiber in a ratio of
about 1: 1 (excluding lignin), unlike wheat bran, which is mainly insoluble fiber (Holloway et
al., 1985; Englyst et al., 1988). This is to say, sweet potato dietary fiber contains abundantly
soluble component, pectin or hemicellulose, suggesting that physiological functions may be
higher in the sweet potato fibers than other crop ones.

PHYSIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS OF SWEET POTATO ROOTS


Anthocyanins and Their Related Compounds

The sweet potato anthocyanins are ubiquitous bioactive compounds because of its
potential antioxidant activities that may exert cardio-protective effects (Knekt et al., 1996;
Suda et al., 1998; Yoshimoto et al., 1999a), radical-scavenging (Furuta et. al., 1998),
antimutagenic (Yoshimoto et al., 1999b), antidiabetic (Yoshimoto et al., 1998; Matsui et al.,
2002), and anticancer (Hou, 2003; Konczak-Islam et al., 2003) activities. Recently, growing
demand in the food industry for use of natural food colorants has led to the evaluation of
various vegetables as food colorant sources. The sweet potato anthocyanins are superior as a
natural food colorant to those from red cabbage, elderberry, and purple corn (Odake et al.,
1994, Odake, 1998; Konczak-Islam et al., 2003) due to their positive therapeutic and
physiological functions (Kamei et al., 1995; Furata et al., 1998; Yoshimoto et al., 2001; Hou,
2003).
Anthocyanin absorption and metabolism are reported in both experimental animals and
human using fruits and sweet potato (Miyazawa et al., 1999; Bub et al., 2001; Matsumoto et
al., 2001; Cao et al., 2001). Moreover, they also show an ameliorative effect on carbon
tetrachloride-induced liver injury (Suda et al., 1997) and decrease postprandial blood glucose
levels (Matsui et al., 2002) in rats. Peonidin 3-caffeoylsophoroside-5-glucoside in purple-
fleshed sweet potato is directly absorbed into rats and present as an intact acylated form in rat
plasma (Suda et al., 2002). As its result, the plasma antioxidant capacity was significantly
elevated 30 min after the administration of the purple-fleshed sweet potato anthocyanin
concentrate. Further, the absorbability of anthocyanins has been evaluated in human
administered with a beverage prepared from the extract of the root of purple sweet potato.
Two major anthocyanin components, cyanidin 3-caffeoylsophoroside-5-glucoside and
peonidin 3-caffeoylsophoroside-5-glucoside, were detected in the plasma and urine (Harada
et al., 2004). An acylated anthocyanin, peonidin 3-caffeoylsophoroside-5-glucoside was
detected in the urine of healthy volunteers 2 h after ingestion of a purple-fleshed sweet potato
beverage (Oki et al., 2006). Some of the subjects with mild under functioning of the liver
show the diminished levels of the serum γ-GTP (γ-glutamyl transpeptidase), GOT (glutamic-
oxalacetic transaminase) and GPT (glutamic-pyruvic transaminase) after 44 days (120
ml/day) of continual ingestion of the high anthocyanin sweet potato juice (Suda et al., 1998).
Physiological Functions and Utilization of Sweet Potato 67

However, most of such subjects belong to a group with their high level maintaining history
less than five years, but not more than five years. Recent report reveals that oral
administration of the beverage containing blackcurrant anthocyanin (4 mg anthocyanin/kg
body weight and 1% phytic acid) enhanced absorption of anthocyanin in human as compared
to the beverage without phytic acid (Matsumoto et al., 2007). Based on these evidences, the
purple-fleshed sweet potato can be recommended as a superior source for the production of
foods with health benefits (Suda et al., 2003). Further, phenolic anthocyanins from purple-
fleshed sweet potato can be considered as excellent novel sources of natural antioxidant for
not only the functional food but also dietary supplement markets (Cevallos-Casals and
Cisneros-Zevallos, 2003).
Recently, new red vinegar has been developed via fermentation with the storage root of
purple-fleshed sweet potato (Terahara and Sugita, 2000). The red vinegar has a higher
antioxidative activity than white or black vinegars. The red vinegar contains some new
components possibly derived from the original purple sweet potato. A major component is
caffeoylsophorose with a high antioxidative activity (Terahara et al., 2003) (Figure 4). The
administration of caffeoylsophorose following maltose to rat results in the maximal blood
glucose level after 30 min being significantly decreased by about 11% compared to the
control (Matsui et al., 2004b).
Sweet potato has also high contents of polyphenolics (Walter et al., 1979; Yoshimoto et
al., 1999b), calcium (Suzuki et al., 1998), cyanidin pigment (Yoshimoto et al., 1999a) in the
parts about 5-10 mm from the skin. Analysis of anthocyanin pigments in both portions (outer
and inner portions) reveals a large distribution of pigments in the outer portion than in the
inner portion (Yoshimoto et al., 1999a). The technique making sweet potato powder
unnecessary peeling of the roots for the minimization of the loss of useful components is used
on a commercial basis. The powder products can be used all the year round as a material of
confectionery, noodles, alcohol drink, and beverage (Yoshimoto, 2001).

O
HO
O

HO
HO
O

OH OH

O O
OH

OH
OH

OH

Figure 4. Chemical
HO structure of caffeoylsophorose.
O
O OH

HO OH
HO
O
O

O OH
OH

OH
OH
68 Makoto Yoshimoto

Dietary Fiber

Substantial epidemiological and physiological studies have shown that dietary fiber has
important functions in the diet, with suggestions that it gives protection against cardiovascular
disease, colon cancer, and diabetes, the various fiber components having roles in this respect
(Woolfe, 1992). Dietary fiber removes a health-harmful factors, such as artificial food color
(Takeda and Kiriyama, 1979), aluminum (Takeyama et al., 1996), mutagens (Barnes et al.,
1983; Kada et al., 1984) and cholesterol (Lund, 1984) by adsorption of these factors from the
body and improves the flora of intestinal bacteria (Mitsuoka, 1995). Dietary fibers have been
used as functional foods for protection from a colon cancer and heart disease in Western
countries and for a relieve constipation in Japan. Furthermore, dietary fiber has been actively
used for a decrease in calorie and improvement of food quality. Therefore, the expansion of
the demand of dietary fibers is expected in the future. A predominantly bifidobacterial flora in
the intestinal tract is considered to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria such as pathogenic
strains and protect the infants against gastrointestinal diseases (Idota et al., 1994).
Consequently, factors that stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria appear to be promising
effective substances for the maintenance of intestinal homeostrains. Sweet potato fibers
promote effectively the growth of Bifidobacterium adolescentis and B. brevis among five
species of Bifidobacterium which exist in the intestinal tract of the human (Yoshimoto et al.,
2005b). Boiling-soluble fraction of the ―Ayamurasaki‖ fiber promotes more effectively the
growth of B. adolescentis than the fiber itself, suggesting that pectin may be the promoting
factor of bifidobacteria. This is also consistent with the relationship between the fiber
components and the growth promotion of bifidobacteria. Among the root crops, sweet potato
cell wall material has the highest amount of the pectin fraction (Salvador et al., 2000). The
number of intestinal bacteria of the sweet potato-dietary fiber-fed rats is higher than those of
the control rats, and Bifidobacterium. sp. is found only in the sweet potato-dietary fiber-fed
rats (Takamine et al., 2005). These data indicate that the sweet potato starch residue is
available as the physiologically functional dietary fiber.
The water holding capacity of dietary fiber is thought to be an important determinant of
fecal bulking and intestinal transit times with influence gastrointestinal disease (Holloway
and Grieg, 1984; Gazzaniga and Lupton, 1987; Wrick et al., 1983). Some types of dietary
fiber adsorb mutagenic agents, which would lead to their excretion in the feces and decrease
their contact with colonic mucosal cells (Roberton et al., 1991). Water- and oil-holding
capacity of the fibers in the varieties with orange-colored flesh is relatively superior to ones
from the varieties with yellow- or purple-colored flesh (Yoshimoto et al., 2005b).
―Shiroyutaka‖, ―Koganesengan‖, and ―Kyushu 124‖ fiber adsorb about 90% of the added
mutagen (Trp-P-1: 3-amino-1,4-dimethyl-5H-pyrido-(4,3-b)indol), while the commercial
sweet potato fiber does only 56%. Commercial sweet potato fiber has been made mainly from
the residue of the starch industry of ―Koganesengan‖ roots through a citric acid production.
After extraction of citric acid, the residue is treated with 0.25% NaOH and subsequent
bleaching with NaOCl. Lower adsorption capacity of the commercial sweet potato fiber
seems to be caused by low content of pectin and hemicelluloses (Yoshimoto et al., 2005b).
This is also supported by the report that cotton fiber containing cellulose as a main
component slightly adsorb Trp-P-1 (Barnes et al., 1983). Takamine et al. (2000) reported that
the water- and oil-holding capacities of the dietary fiber made from the residue from starch
Physiological Functions and Utilization of Sweet Potato 69

industry of sweet potato roots is superior to some commercial dietary fiber, corn and beet
fiber.
High capacity of oil holding means to adsorb effectively various kinds of mutagen and
cholesterol, because most of these components are lipophilic. Sweet potato fiber is by far the
most effective binder of cholesterol at 30%, cassava fraction at 3%, citrus pectin at 8% and
the majority of samples at <20% for 28 fiber samples from a variety of commonly consumed
tropical fruits and vegetables including sweet potato (Lund, 1984). It has been suggested that
pectin with a high methoxyl content is important in reducing serum cholesterol (Mokady,
1973). The methoxyl content of the sweet potato pectin is high at a concentration of 9.7% of a
cold water extract; the highest being for onion at 11% and wheat bran having only 0.1% in a
study with a series of fruit and vegetables (Holloway, 1983). These reports indicate that the
sweet potato pectin is qualitatively and functionally superior to the fruit and vegetable.

SWEET POTATO LEAF COMPONENTS


New cultivars of sweet potato whose roots are used for beverage, paste, powder, alcohol
drink and natural colorant have been developed in this decade (Yoshimoto, 2001). However,
sweet potato leaves have largely been neglected except for their partial use as livestock feed
in Japan and other Asian countries (Villareal et al., 1979).
Phenolic compounds (natural antioxidants) exist universally in vegetables (Tsushida et
al., 1994; Murata et al., 1995; Chuda et al., 1996; Murayama et al., 2002) and in fruits
(Coseteng and Lee, 1987; Robards et al., 1999). Dietary antioxidants have attracted special
attention because they can protect the human body from oxidative stress, which may cause
many diseases including cancer, aging and cardiovascular diseases (Huang and Ferraro, 1991;
Peluso et al., 1995; Stevens et al., 1995; Shahrzad and Bitsch, 1996; Shimozono et al., 1996;
Hagerman et al., 1998; Kaul and Khanduja 1998; Robards et al., 1999; Prior et al., 1998;
Yoshimoto et al., 1999b). Therefore, sweet potato leaves with high nutritive value
(Yoshimoto et al., 2002a) and antioxidants, namely phenolics (Islam et al., 2002a; Islam et
al., 2003c; Islam, 2005) may become an excellent source material for physiological functional
foods.

Nutritional Value

Sweet potato leaf is also rich in vitamin B, β-carotene, iron, calcium, zinc and protein,
and as a crop is more tolerant of diseases, pests, and high moisture than many other leafy
vegetables grown in the tropics (AVRDC, 1985; Woolfe, 1992). Depending on the genotypes
and growing conditions, sweet potato leaves are comparable with spinach in nutrient contents
(Woolfe, 1992; Yoshimoto et al., 2002a; Ishiguro et al., 2004b). The new cultivar ―Suioh‖ is
a bushy plant that is easy to harvest (Ishiguro et al., 2004a). This cultivar is harvested from
nursery beds six times a year, from April through October. Total yield of greens is 4.16 kg/kg
of seed roots. Sensory evaluation shows that the taste of the cooked leaves and petioles is
very good, and that the hot water extract from greens can be used as a substitute for green tea.
The average contents of minerals and vitamins are 117 mg calcium, 1.8 mg iron, 3.5 mg total
70 Makoto Yoshimoto

carotene, 7.2 mg total vitamin C, 1.6 mg total vitamin E, and 0.56 mg vitamin K/100 g fresh
weight of leaves. Levels of iron, calcium and carotene rank among the top, as compared with
other major vegetables (Ishiguro et al., 2004a).
In sweet potato leaves, average content of β-carotene from five varieties was 6.2 mg/100
g fresh weight, while that from six leafy vegetables was 2.1 mg/100 g fresh weight. Ratio of
9-cis and 13-cis isomers to total β-carotene content in the leaves of five varieties was 21.5%,
while that of six commercial vegetables was 14.7%. These results suggest that sweet potato
leaves contain higher content of 9-cis and 13-cis isomers than the commercial vegetables
(Yoshimoto et al., 2003). The 9-cis isomer has a higher antioxidant potency than that of the
all-trans one (Levin and Mokady, 1994), as mentioned previously.
Lutein is a member of the xanthophylls family of carotenoids and is found in vegetables
and fruits (Mangels et al., 1993). Lutein is believed to mitigate eye disease such as age-
related macular degeneration and cataracts. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale have
high lutein content (Alves-Rodrigues and Shao, 2004). Purified lutein has been used in
dietary supplements and as a food ingredient for eye health in recent years. ―Suioh‖, a sweet
potato cultivar is developed specifically for the use of its top at KONARC. Lutein content in
―Suioh‖ leaves grown in the field, ranges from 31.5 mg to 42.6 mg/100 g fresh weight
(average content, 36.8 mg/100 g fresh weight) (Ishiguro and Yoshimoto, 2006). The average
content in ―Suioh‖ leaves is higher than Ipomoea aquatica leaves (11.9 mg/100 g fresh
weight) and exceeds that in other fruits and vegetables listed in a carotenoid database of 120
fruits and vegetables (Ishiguro and Yoshimoto, 2006).

Polyphenols

Phenolic acids are bioactive compounds and a diverse group of secondary metabolites
universally present in higher plants (Rhodes et al., 1986; Meyer et al., 1998), where they play
important roles in the structure of plants and are involved in a number of metabolic pathways
(Harborne, 1980). Phenolics also have attracted special attention because they may protect the
human body from oxidative stress, which in turn is associated with many diseases including
cancer and cardiovascular diseases, as well as aging (Huang and Ferraro, 1991; Peluso et al.,
1995; Stevens et al., 1995; Shimozono et al., 1996; Shahrzed and Bitsch, 1996; Kaul and
Khanduja, 1998; Prior et al., 1998; Hagerman et al., 1998; Yoshimoto et al., 1999a; Robards
et al., 1999). Sweet potato leaves are an excellent source of antioxidative polyphenolics, such
as CA, ChA, diCQA, and triCQA (Islam et al, 2002a, 2003a, 2003b, 2003c), superior in this
regard to other commercial vegetables, including sweet potato roots and potato tubers (Lugasi
et al., 1999; Islam et al., 2002b; Yoshimoto et al., 2001, 2002a, 2003; Ishiguro et al., 2002a,
2004b).
Total leaf polyphenol contents of 1389 genotypes, collected from all over the world, were
analyzed and characterized in 2000 and 2001 (Islam et al., 2003c). A highly significant (P >
0.001) liner correlation is found between the polyphenol contents of the genotypes from 2000
and the genotypes from 2001 (r = 0.812; n = 700).
This result indicates that the yearly variations of total phenolics in leaves of sweet potato
genotypes are less. Furthermore, previous data revealed that the highest polyphenol
concentration was in leaves (6.19 ± 0.14 g/100 g dry weight), followed by petioles (2.97 ±
0.26 g/ 100 g dry weight), stems (1.88 ± 0.19 g/100 g dry weight), and finally roots (<1.00
Physiological Functions and Utilization of Sweet Potato 71

g/100 g dry weight), indicating that polyphenolic concentrations are organ-dependent (Islam
et al., 2002b). The frequency distribution of total leaf polyphenolic content of 1389 genotypes
collected from world wide is shown in Figure 5. The highest content found is 17.1 g/100 g
dry weight and the lowest is >6.00 g/100 g dry leaf powder of total polyphenolics; the
concentration is very high compared to other commercial vegetables (Yoshimoto et al., 2003;
Ishiguro et al., 2002, 2004b).
CA and five CQA derivatives: ChA, 3,4-diCQA, 3,5-diCQA, 4,5-diCQA, and 3,4,5-
triCQA are found in sweet potato leaves (Islam et al., 2002a). ChA and diCQA derivatives
have been isolated from various plants including sweet potato (Shimozono et al., 1996;
Walter et al., 1979), as mentioned above, but there are very few reports on 3,4,5-triCQA. All
caffeoylquinic acid derivatives (except CA; P < 0.05) are positively correlated (P > 0.001)
with total polyphenol contents of sweet potato leaves. The correlation of total phenolics with
ChA (r = 0.84), 3,4-diCQA (r = 0.78), 3,5-diCQA (r = 0.81), 4,5-diCQA (r = 0.85) and 3,4,5-
triCQA (r = 0.59) are positive and significant.
The results indicate that the correlation between total phenolics with different CQA
derivatives is an important aspect, which should be kept in mind for better planning for
improvement of the desired parameters. ChA, di- and triCQA are esters of quinic acid (QA)
and bear one-, two-, and three-caffeoyl groups. Isolation of 3,4,5-triCQA is reported in
Securidaka longipedunculata (Polygalaceae) (Mahmood et al., 1993) and Tessaria
integrifolia (Asteraceae) (Peluso et al., 1995). Several varieties of sweet potato contain a high
content (>0.2%) of 3,4,5-triCQA (Islam et al., 2002b; 2003c), suggesting that the sweet
potato leaf is a source of not only mono- and diCQA derivatives but also triCQA.

Figure 5. Frequency distribution of total polyphenol content of 1389 sweet potato genotypes.
72 Makoto Yoshimoto

Anthocyanins

Fifteen anthocyanin compounds have been identified and characterized in sweet potato
leaves (Islam et al., 2002b). The content of cyanidin in leaves was much higher than that of
peonidin (Oki et al., 2002), suggesting that the cyanidin type is dominant (Islam et al., 2002b;
2005). The cyanidin type anthocyanins are superior to the peonidin type in antimutagenicity
(Yoshimoto et al., 1999a, 1999b) and antioxidative activity (Rice-Evans et al., 1995).

Galacto-Lipid

Sixteen novel and ten known galactolipids were isolated and characterized from the sweet
potato leaves (Napalitano et al., 2007). Various studies have indicated that glycoglycerolipds
exhibit specific biological properties including antiviral (Reshef et al., 1997), antitumor
(Shirahashi et al., 1993; Morimoto et al., 1995; Murakami et al., 1995; Shirahashi et al.,
1996; Murakami et al., 2003), and anti-inflammatory (Larsen et al., 2003) activities. The
physiological and physiological functions of the novel galactolipids derived from sweet
potato leaves are not known and are expected to be evaluated by vitro and in vivo studies in
the future.

PHYSIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS OF SWEET POTATO LEAVES


Antioxidation

Although lipids are essential for human health, certain polyunsaturated fatty acids have
many double bonds and cause radical chain reactions with oxygen, and thereby produce
various lipid peroxide and oxidized resolvents. Lipid peroxides cause deterioration in cell
functions, arterial sclerosis, liver disorders, and retinopathy, and are also involved in
carcinogenesis and aging (Halliwell, 1994; Yu, 1994; Nair et al., 2007). The antioxidative or
radical-scavenging properties of lipid peroxides are especially interesting because of their
potential to provide health protection against reactive oxygen species and free radicals, which
have been implicated in more than 100 diseases (Halliwell, 1992). Several authors have
reported the antioxidative and radical scavenging activities of sweet potato leaves (Islam et
al., 2002b, 2003, 2003c).
The polyphenolic content and antioxidative activity in vegetables show a good
correlation, with the antioxidative activity of edible chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum
morifolium), which has the highest polyphenolic content among 43 commercial vegetables
(Tsusida et al., 1994). The radical-scavenging activity of CQA derivatives in order of
effectiveness is 3,4,5-triCQA > 3,4-diCQA = 3,5-diCQA = 4,5-diCQA > CA = ChA. Sweet
potato leaves also revealed relatively much higher activity in 1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl
(DPPH) radical scavenging activity than the 43 vegetables mentioned above (Islam et al.,
2003b, 2003c). There are significant positive correlations between radical-scavenging activity
and the polyphenol concentrations of sweet potato leaves (Islam et al., 2003a). These data
indicate that sweet potato leaves are a good supplementary resource of antioxidants.
Physiological Functions and Utilization of Sweet Potato 73

Antimutagenicity

Cancers can occur through initiation, promotion, and progression in body cells. Initiation
is a type of mutation that occurs in cancer and anticancer genes. Therefore, controlling the
gene mutation, brought about by the carcinogens, leads to cancer prevention (Berenblum,
1941). The mutagens contained in food may include ingredients of vegetables, mold toxins,
and pollutants in food. These mutagens are considered as factors involved in formation and
occurrence of human cancers (McCann et al., 1975).
Development of screening methods for environmental carcinogens by determining their
mutagenicity has enabled various types of mutagens and carcinogens to be detected and
identified in daily foods (Ames et al., 1975). It is now known that various types of inhibitors
that act against mutagens and carcinogens are present in our daily food, and that they play an
important role in reducing the risks of mutagenesis and carcinogenesis (Shinohara et al.,
1988). CQA derivatives effectively inhibit the reverse mutations induced by Trp-P-1 on
Salmonella typhimurium TA and the antimutagenicity of these derivatives in order of
effectiveness is 3,4,5-triCQA > 3,4-diCQA = 3,5-diCQA = 4,5-diCQA > ChA (Yoshimoto et
al., 2002b).

Anticarcinogenesis

Growth suppression of three kinds of cancer cells, stomach cancer (Kato-III), colon
cancer (DLD-1), and promyelocytic leukemia (HL-60) cells, by QA, CA, and CQA
derivatives has been researched (Kurata et al., 2007). QA has no effect on the growth of each
kind of cancer cells. 3,4,5-TriCQA, however, suppresses the growth of each kind of cancer
cells. Promyelocytic leukemia cells (HL-60) are especially sensitive to the CQA derivatives
compared with the others. CA and the three kinds of di-CQA derivatives (3,4-diCQA, 3,5-
diCQA, and 4,5-diCQA) suppress the growth of HL-60 cells. CA exceptionally suppresses
the cell multiplication of HL-60. These results show the necessity of the caffeoyl group bound
to QA as well as the differential sensitivity of tumor cells to these compounds. Nuclear
granulation and DNA fragmentation in HL-60 cells treated with 3,4,5-triCQA suggest that the
cellular death is due to apoptosis induction (Kurata et al., 2007).

Antidiabetes

International Diabetes Federation reports that the diabetic mellitus population is


increasing globally and it is estimated at 246 million persons around the world at 2007. .
Insulin-secretion ability in the rat pancreas RIN-5F cells is promoted in order of 3,4,5-triCQA
> 3,4-diCQA = 4,5-diCQA = 3,5-diCQA > ferulic acid (FA) > CA > QA = ChA. 3,4,5-
TriCQA especially shows a remarkable insulin-secretion promoting effect (Tsubata et al.,
2004). Ferulic acid (FA) and its amide derivatives stimulate insulin secretion in the rat
pancreas RIN-5F cells (Nomura et al., 2003). CQA derivatives except for QA, ChA, and CA
reveal higher activity on insulin secretion than FA, indicating that sweet potato leaves
containing CQA derivatives may be excellent sources for antidiabetes. However, more
research is needed before a direct link is established.
74 Makoto Yoshimoto

α -Glucosidase (EC 3.2.1.20), which is a membrane-bound enzyme located at the


epitherium of the small intestine. It catalyzes the cleavage of glucose from disaccharides
(Hauri et al., 1982). Thus, retardation of the action of this enzyme by any inhibitor may be
one of the most effective approaches to control non-insulin-dependent diabetes (Toeller,
1994). Matsui et al. (2004a) reported that the maltase inhibitory effect (IC50) of 3,4-diCQA,
3,5-diCQA, and 4,5-diCQA are at levels of 1,910 μM, 1,890 μM, and 413 μM, respectively.
Maltase inhibitory effect (IC50 = 24 μM) of 3,4,5-triCQA is much higher than the other three
diCQAs and YGM-6 (one of anthocyanin pigments from sweet potato root with purple-
colored flesh), and is about one fifty-sixth of acarbose (IC50: 0.43 μM). In Japan, acarbose as
a therapeutic α-glucosidase inhibitor is widely used to delay glucose absorption from the
small intestine (Goto et al., 1989; Odaka et al., 1992). Further, Matsui et al. (2004a) indicate
that oral administration of 3,4,5-triCQA to diabetic model rats reduces significantly their
blood glucose content.
Oral administration of 1.0 g and 0.1 g fine powder of the dried sweet potato leaves/kg
body weight/day to STZ-induced insulin-deficient diabetic rats for seven days significantly
decreased their blood glucose and increased their blood insulin levels. Further, oral
administration of sweet potato leaves significantly decreased blood-glucose content in oral
starch loading human volunteers (Tsubata et al., 2004).
At the later stage of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), which is the
predominant type of human diabetes, symptoms result mainly from decreased secretion of
insulin by pancreatic Langerhans cells. Prevention of the NIDDM and inhibition of the
serious adverse effects of diabetes such as retinopathy, neuropathy, and cataracts, are
important subjects for researchers. Therefore, food materials with antidiabetic effect are
desired for diet therapy.

Antihypertension

A single oral administration of 3,4-diCQA, 3,5-diCQA, and 3,4,5-triCQA each at a dose


of 10 mg/kg in spontaneously hypertensive rats showed antihypertensive effects (Mishima et
al., 2005). Spontaneously hypertensive rats, which were orally administered with sweet
potato tops exhibited dose-dependent suppression in blood pressure increases in comparison
with the control group. These results suggest that sweet potato tops have a hypertensive effect
in spontaneously hepertensive rats (SHR), which is at least in part due to the angiotensin I
converting enzyme(ACE) inhibitory activity of CQA (Ishiguro et al., 2007b).

Antibacterial Activity

Removal of pathogenic fungi in food, extension of storage time by the control of


putrefying bacteria, and eradication of parasites are important for the maintenance of human
health. Currently, an orientation towards healthy and natural foods is strengthening among
consumers, and there may come a situation when it will be difficult to use food preservatives
and disinfectants. There is an indication of a worldwide prevalence of infection by
Escherichia coli O-157, and surveillance and preventive measures are required for this
emerging infectious disease (Itoh and Kai, 1997).
Physiological Functions and Utilization of Sweet Potato 75

Lyophilized leaf powder from the ‗Simon-1‘ sweet potato cultivar strongly suppresses the
growth of E. coli O-157, and its effect is detectable even after autoclave treatment. Unlike
leaves, petioles or stems promote markedly the growth of O-157, suggesting that the
antibacterial components exist only in the leaf. The antibacterial extract reveals that the main
components are polysaccharides (Islam and Jalaluddin, 2004). In the polysaccharide fraction,
the relative quantities of neutral sugars are in the order of xylose > galactose > arabinose >
glucose > rhamnose > mannose > fructose. Galacturonic acid accounts for 28.7%, which is
the highest among the sugar components detected. These results suggest that the antibacterial
component of sweet potato leaves may be pectin-like material (Islam and Jalaluddin, 2005).
Furthermore, the water extract from the leaves suppresses effectively the growth of other
food-poisoning bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus as well as
pathogenic E. coli (Islam and Jalaluddin, 2005).

Other Physiological Functions Including Anti-HIV

HIV infection in humans is one of the most terrible pandemics around the world. Suitable
candidates for investigating the potential in counteracting the transmission of HIV infection
have been positively screening from various kinds of plants (Mahmood et al., 1993; Lim et
al., 1997; Kobayashi et al., 2000; Ma et al., 2000; Tamura et al., 2006). 3,4,5-TriCQA is
suggested to depress the transmission of HIV infection by the inhibition of the virus integrase
(Tamura et al., 2006) and specific binding to the virus glycoprotein, gp120, which prevents
its interaction with CD4 on T-lymphocytes and thus inactivates virus infectivity (Mahmood et
al., 1993).
A pathogenic hallmark of Alzheimer‘s disease is the formation of senile plaques. β-
Amyloid peptide (Aβ) is a major component of these plaques. Aβ is shown to have the
potential to induce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, which are postulated to
play important roles in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer‘s disease. Aβ induces the production of
hydrogen peroxide and lipid peroxide in neurons. In addition, Aβ has been reported to induce
superoxide and proinflammatory cytokines in astrocytes as well as in microglial cells.
Antioxidant such as α-tocopherol protect against cytotoxicity in vitro as well as learning and
memory deficits induced by Aβ. Furthermore, α-tocopherol and anti-inflammatory agents
such as indomethacin reportedly slow the progression of Alzheimer‘s disease (Sano et al.,
1997; Rogers et al., 1993). Long-term administration of FA, a phenolic compound, with
potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, induces resistance to Aβ1-42 toxicity in
the brain (Yan et al., 2001). Administration of diCQA to Alzheimer-model rats protects
against the aging, especially learning and memory deficits induced by Aβ (Isoda et al., 2006).

RELATIONSHIP OF FUNCTIONAL COMPONENT AND STRUCTURE


The structural feature responsible for the antioxidative and free radical-scavenging
activity of CA is the ortho-dihydroxyl functionality in the catechol (Mahmood et al., 1993).
The cathecol structure also plays an important role in the strong antimutagenicity of
anthocyanin pigments (Yoshimoto et al., 2001). Therefore, the physiological function of the
76 Makoto Yoshimoto

CQA derivatives with plural caffeoyl groups is more effective than with a monocaffeoyl one.
The radical scavenging activity and the antimutagenicity of these derivatives in order of
efficacy is triCQA > diCQAs > monoCQA, suggesting that the number of caffeoyl groups
bound to QA plays a role in the radical scavenging activity of the CQA derivatives. In other
words, additional caffeoyl groups bound to QA are necessary for higher function. The 3,4,5-
triCQA exhibits a greater selective inhibition of HIV replication than other CQA derivatives
(Mahmood et al., 1993; Tamura et al., 2006). Thus, although there is no direct association,
the CQA derivatives have the potential to protect humans from various kinds of diseases.
Especially 3,4,5-triCQA shows remarkable activities for various kinds of physiological
functions (Yoshimoto et al., 2002b; Matsui et al., 2004a; Mishima et al., 2005). ChA and
diCQA derivatives have been isolated from various plants including sweet potato (Walter et
al., 1979; Shimozono et al., 1996), but there are very few reports on 3,4,5-triCQA. Several
varieties of sweet potato contain a high content of 3,4,5-triCQA (Islam et al., 2002a; 2003a),
suggesting that the sweet potato leaf is a source of not only mono- and diCQA derivatives but
also 3,4,5-triCQA. A large scale purification of 3,4,5-triCQA from sweet potato leaves is
established in KONARC (unpublished data).
As reviewed previously, sweet potato anthocyanins have been reported to possess
multifaceted action, including antioxidation, antimutagenicity, anti-inflammatory, and
anticarinogenesis. Extensive structure-activity studies have shown that the number of sugar
units and hydroxyl groups on aglycons is associated with biological activities of
anthocyanins. The activities appear to increase with a decreasing number of sugar units, and
with an increasing number of hydroxyl groups on aglycons (Yoshimoto et al., 2001; Hou et
al., 2004). Oral intake of anthocyanins from purple sweet potato and red cabbage color
suppresses rat colon carcinogenesis induced by 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH) and 2-amino-1
methyl-6-phenylimidazo [4,5-b] pyridine (PhIP) (Hagiwara et al, 2002). Of the six
anthocyanins tested, only those with an ortho-dihydroxyphenyl structure on the B-ring
suppressed 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbl-13-acette (TPA)-induced cell transformation and
activator protein-1 transactivation, suggesting that the ortho-dihydroxypehnyl may contribute
to the inhibitory action (Hou et al., 2003). The structural feature responsible for the
antioxidative and free radical scavenging activity of CA is the ortho-dihydroxyl functionality
in the catechol (Son and Lewis., 2002). These activities might depend on the number of
hydroxyl group in the structure (Yoshimoto et al., 2001; Hou, 2003). Cyanidin containing two
hydroxyl groups shows stronger activity on antimutagenicity than that of peonidin, which has
only one group (Yoshimoto et al., 1999b; 2001). Based on additional studies with enzyme
activity, the cyanidins protect against the mutagenesis partly by direct reactions with
enzymatically activated carcinogens (heterocyclic amines) rather than by the interaction with
metabolic enzyme (Yoshimoto et al., 1999b).

SWEET POTATO USE FOR NON- FOOD


Sweet potato root is used to make various processed food and food materials, such as
juice, natural food colorant, confectionery, shochu, and starch. This process unavoidably
discharged wastes and the cost of disposing of these wastes is a main cause of lowering
profitability of food processors. In such a circumstance, it is an important question to find
Physiological Functions and Utilization of Sweet Potato 77

ways to use effectively the wastes from food processing. In Japan, studies are actively
conducted clarify the characteristics of these wastes and to develop recycling technology. The
subjects of these studies include the method of converting wastes from starch production into
biodegradable plastics and recycling of waste liquids from shochu making not merely as feed
and manure but also as biodegradable farming materials and foods.
Treatment of sweet potato waste derived from shochu, starch, and leaves is important in
the southern Kyushu area in Japan. Shochu waste is used as a raw material of a vinegar-like
beverage (Yoshimoto et al., 2004) and bread (Sho et al., 2008) with high content of
polyphenolics. Research of polyphenolic composition in shochu waste demonstrates the
enzymatic hydrolysis of CQA derivatives to CA and QA in shochu fermentation process by
koji, fungi for traditional fermented products in Japan (Yoshimoto et al., 2005a). CA is a raw
material for environmentally degradable, high-performance thermoplastics (Kaneko et al.,
2006). Furthermore ethyl caffeate isolated from sweet potato shochu distillery by-products
inhibits weed seed germination and radical elongation, suggesting a potential as herbicide
(Okuno et al., 2006). Sweet potato leaves also can be used as an animal feed for egg-laying
hens (Takenoyama et al., 2007) and beef cattle (Takenoyama et al., 2008). Sweet potato
leaves contains high content of polyphenolics (Islam et al., 2002a ) and the leaf extract is
used in cosmetics. Starch waste fiber from sweet potato is industrially used for the material of
environmentally degradable sheets for agriculture.

CONCLUSIONS
Sweet potato root is a resource of anthocyanin pigments with thermo- and photostability.
Furthermore, anthocyanin composition in sweet potato affects not only the quality of food
colorants (Odake et al., 1994) and paste color (Yoshinaga et al., 1999) but also physiological
activities (Islam et al., 2002b; Yoshimoto et al., 1999a, 2001). KONARC (Japan) is currently
focusing on development of new varieties of sweet potato with different pigment composition
and more thermo- and photostable pigments.
Sweet potato leaves have been shown to contain higher levels of oxalic acid than leafy
vegetables from temperate climate, highest being reported in spinach (Evensen and Standal
1984). Oxalate concentrations in food crops have long been a concern in human diet, because
of the negative health effects associated with high intake of oxalate levels that can cause acute
poisoning, resulting in hypocalcaemia. Furthermore, oxalic acid and soluble oxalates can bind
calcium, reducing its bioavailability and humans poorly utilize calcium oxalate itself. The
average content of oxalic acid of sweet potato variety ―Suioh‖ leaves is 280 mg/ 100 g fresh
weight. This content is not high compared with the 930 mg/100 g fresh weight in spinach
(Ishiguro et al., 2004b). Oxalic acid contents of other sweet potato varieties tested are also
several times less than that of spinach (Yoshimoto et al., 2002a).
Sweet potato contains various kinds of physiologically functional components in roots
and leaves, which have the potential to maintain human health and mitigate the diseases.
However, much of the evidence is based on research using rats and cell cultures and there is
no evidence to directly support benefit to humans. Therefore, moderate consumption of these
functional components through the intake of the products may be linked with the
chemoprevention of the diseases, further epidemiological and efficacy studies on this aspect
78 Makoto Yoshimoto

are required. In the worldwide food shortage and increasing food prices, sweet potato is a
crop that can contribute to the effective use as not only foods with various kinds of
physiological functions, but also the natural resources and the reduction in environmental
load.

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In: Sweet Potato: Post Harvest Aspects in Food ISBN 978-1-60876-343-6
Editors: R. C. Ray and K. I. Tomlins © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Chapter 4

SWEET POTATO STARCH

S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas


Central Tuber Crops Research Institute,
Sreekariyam, Thiruvanathapyram- 695 017,
Kerala, India

ABSTRACT
Sweet potato is an important food crop in the tropical countries and the roots are rich
in starch. The starch has very desirable physicochemical and functional properties and
therefore can have applications in food and industries. This chapter discusses the
different characteristics of the starch in comparison with other root and tuber starches and
the potential applications. The starch granule size ranges from 4-43 µm, with ‗A‘ type
XRD pattern and an amylose content of around 20%. The swelling power and solubility
are similar to other root starches. The viscosity and pasting temperature are almost in the
same range as cassava. The enzyme digestibility, water binding capacity and rheological
properties have also been described. The conditions for the liquefaction and
saccharification of sweet potato starch for possible application in the production of ethyl
alcohol are given in detail.

ABBREVIATIONS
BU Branbender units;
DP Degree of polymerization;
DSC Differential Scanning Colorimetry;
HPAEC High Performance Anion Exchange Chromatography;
FTIR Fourier Transform Infra Red;
PV Peak viscosity;
RVA Rapid Visco Analyzer;
SEM Scanning Electron Microscopy


Corresponding author: E-Mail: S.N.Moorthy48@gmail.com Tel: 91-471-2598551; Fax: 91-471-2590063
92 S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas

INTRODUCTION
Starch is one of the major biochemical components in the plant kingdom, especially in
the root and tuber crops. The starch content varies from 10-30% and the different starches
have different functional properties. The application of the starch in food depends on the
starch content and starch properties. Next to cassava, sweet potato has the highest starch
content among the root crops and the extraction process is comparatively simple.
In developing countries, sweet potatoes are processed into starch, noodles, candy, flour
and desserts. In China for example, sweet potato starch production has become an important
cottage industry. Moreover, China is the largest grower of sweet potatoes, providing about
80% of the worlds supply. There are more than 2000 varieties of sweet potatoes in China
which can be roughly divided into ‗general type‘, ‗high starch type‘ and ‗food consumption
type‘ (Liu, 2004). The major content of the dry matter in sweet potato is mainly starch which
can be extracted from the roots. The uses of sweet potato starch are primarily determined by
its physicochemical properties like starch granule shape and size, amylose content, molecular
starch structure and pasting properties, retrogradation tendency, etc. A number of studies on
the distinctive properties of sweet potato starch have been undertaken in different laboratories
in the last decade. Crystalline structure, gelatinisation, pasting behaviour and retrogradation
have been investigated (Takeda, 1986; Noda et al., 1992, 1996; Collado and Corke, 1997;
Garcia and Walter, 1998; Katayama et al., 2002; Katayama et al., 2004). The objective of this
chapter is to bring together the present knowledge on starch derived from this crop.

STARCH EXTRACTION
The properties of sweet potato starch are very similar to cassava starch. However, though
the extraction of starch from cassava is widely practiced, starch extraction from sweet potato
is not so widely prevalent. The main reasons attributed are that the settling of starch is slow
such that the longer residence time can lead to microbial growth and thereby lower the
quality; this reduces the price of starch. For getting optimum yield and quality of starch, the
correct time of maturity, methodology used for extraction and processing machinery are
important. If roots are harvested late, the starch may get converted to sugar and fibre and thus
affect yield and quality. Delays in processing sweet potatoes can result in the accumulation of
sucrose and reducing sugars (Heinze and Appleman, 1943). Delays between shredding and
starch extraction in sweet potato or the roots may lead to the synthesis of toxic compounds
such as the alkaloid ipomeamarone, and the derived starch may become inedible and
hazardous (Jain et al., 1951). The method of starch isolation (Figure 1) can affect both the
physicochemical properties of the starch and the level of non-starch components, which in
turn may also affect the physico-chemical properties of the starch indirectly (Lii and Chang,
1978; Takeda et al., 1986). The recovery of starch from sweet potato roots increased by more
than 20% by using pectinase and cellulase enzymes. These enzymes act by breaking the
pectin-cellulosic matrix of cell membranes resulting in the release of the starch granules. The
treatment up to 0.05% concentration of enzyme gives higher yield without affecting its starch
properties (Kallabinski and Balagopalan, 1991; Moorthy, 1999). Other methods used to
Sweet Potato Starch 93

improve yield of starch is use of lime (Radley, 1976a) and dilute acetic and lactic acid during
extraction.

Figure 1. Course starch production by farming households (Liu, 2004).

BIOCHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Though the starch appears to be in the pure form free from other components, thorough
investigation of extracted starch have revealed that it is invariably contaminated by various
other components (Table 1), i.e., fibre, lipids, proteins and minerals depending on a number
of factors such as method of extraction, age of the crop, environmental conditions, etc. Some
of these impart desirable qualities to the starch, while others have a detrimental effect on
quality.

Table 1. Proximate composition of isolated starch

Parameters (g/kg) Range Reference


Moisture 139-150 Lii and Chang, 1978
Ash 0.8-1 Delpeuch et al., 1978,1979
2.6-5.1 Lii and Chang, 1978
Fibre 0.7-1.8 Delpeuch et al.1978,1979
0.5-1 Lii and Chang, 1978
Crude protein 4.8-5.4 Delpeuch et al. 1978,1979
1.3-2 Lii and Chang, 1978
Crude lipid 0.6-6 Delpeuch et al. 1978,1979
Phosphorus 0.19 Lii and Chang, 1978
Starch 980-988 Delpeuch et al., 1978,1979

The starch content in the extracted starch is nearly more than 95% but this depends on
maturity. The moisture content suggested for safe storage of starch is 13% (ISI, 1970; Radley,
1976a), but among tuber and root starches large variation have been found (Kay, 1987;
Takeda et al., 1986; Soni et al., 1990; Melo et al., 1994). The root starches contain much
94 S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas

smaller quantities of native lipids in them, hence the addition of lipids or surfactants was
found to enhance the properties of starch quality and it was found that there is no hindrance
for the root starches to complex with surfactants or lipids added externally. The phosphorous
content in sweet potato is similar to that in cassava starch (Rickard et al., 1991) but both of
these are less than that in Irish potato (Hizukuri, 1969). Phosphate is believed to be an
important factor in determining the granular strength by forming cross linkages.

GRANULAR CHARACTERISTICS
Size and Shape

The granule size varies from less than 1µm to more than 100µm. Sweet potato starch
granules have been reported as round, oval an polygonal shapes with size ranging between 3
and 28µm(Chen et al., 2003).The size and shape of starch granules from sweet potato are
given in Table 2. Madamba et al. (1975) found significant differences among all sweet potato
varieties studied (Figure 2). Sweet potato granules are of a similar size to those of cassava and
maize but are smaller than those of potato which also have a larger range of granular size
(Dreher and Berry, 1983).
Starch grains are of variable shape (oval, round, faceted round and polygonal) and are
normally non-aggregated. Granule size ranges from 4-43µ, depending on the cultivar. The
mean size of the granule ranges between 12.3-21.5µ. The granule size is reported to affect
some functional properties like swelling, solubility and digestibility. Bowkamp (1985)
reported negative correlation between particle size and susceptibility to amylase and acid
degradation for sweet potato cultivars. According to Rasper (1971), particle size including
size distribution, is one of the characteristics that most markedly affects the functional
properties of starch granules. Smaller granules are reported to have both high solubility and
water absorption capacity (Georing and Dehaas, 1972). Earlier studies revealed that sweet
potato starch is polygonal or nearly round in shape (Tian et al. 1991; Woolfe, 1992; Shin and
Ahn, 1983; Bouwkamp, 1985) and has a centric distinct hilum. Polarisation crosses are
comparatively less distinct.

Table 2. Size, shape and X-ray diffraction pattern of sweet potato starches

Sl.no Size (μm) Shape X-ray pattern Reference


1 14-34 Round polygonal Ca Shin and Ahn, 1983
2 3-42 Round polygonal - Seog et al., 1987
3 4-40 - Ca Delpeuch et al., 1978
4 10-14 - - Lii and Chang, 1978
5 4-43 Polygonal oval round - Bouwkamp, 1985
non-aggregated
6 9-38 Non-aggregated, oval - Madamba et al., 1975
polygonal
Sweet Potato Starch 95

Figure 2. Frequency curves of the granules sizes of starch of six sweet potato varieties grown in
Philippines (Madamba et al., 1975).

Crystalline Structure

The Crystalline nature of a starch granule can be defined by the position of the X-ray
diffraction peaks (Zoebel, 1988). Table 2 and Figure 3 represent the X-ray pattern of some
sweet potato starches. Hizukuri (1969) demonstrated that mixtures of A- and B- type starches
produced intermediate pattern (C-type). Sweet potato starch has a variable X-ray pattern
between C and A, in contrast to cereal starches such as wheat and corn which have A-type
and potato which has B-type pattern (Zoebel, 1988). Sweet potato starch also has ‗A‘ (Takeda
et al., 1986; Szylit et al., 1978; Gallant et al., 1982), ‗C‘ (Shin and Ahn, 1983; Zoebel, 1988;
Chiang and Chen, 1988) or intermediate pattern (Tian et al., 1991). Takeda et al. (1986)
observed ‗A‘ pattern for two varieties while it was ‗CA‘ for another variety with absolute
crystallinity of 38%.

Molecular Weight

Studies on sweet potato starch has revealed that amylopectin to have peaks at DP (degree
of polymerisation) =12 and DP=8. The concentrations of the peaks at DP=6 and DP=7 were
7.1-7.5% and 6.7-7.0%, respectively. Takeda et al. (1986) reported trimodal pattern for the
sweet potato amylopectin and Hizukuri (1969) a bimodal distribution. They concluded that
sweet potato has a higher proportion of ‗A‘ chains and short ‗B‘ chains compared to potato.
96 S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas

Figure 3. An X-ray diffraction pattern of sweet potato starch (Chiang et al., 1988).

Chain length has been found to vary in some varieties based on the low viscosity and
high reducing values (Woolfe, 1992). Sweet potato amylose appears to have more branches
per amylose molecule than that from cassava, potato, wheat or maize, and have a higher
molecular weight than maize, wheat and cassava but less than potato. Takeda et al. (1986)
suggested this was the reason for the low retrogradation tendency of sweet potato amylose.
The degree of polymerization and branching has been reported to have a substantial effect on
the physicochemical properties of amylose and amylopectin (Zobel, 1988).

PHYSICOCHEMICAL PROPERTIES
Amylose Content

Sweet potato can have amylose contents slightly higher than that of cassava but less than
that of wheat, maize or potato (Rikard et al., 1991). The amylose content of sweet potato is
considered to be one of the most important factors influencing the cooking and textural
qualities of storage roots and sweet potato starch based products (Collado et al., 1999). Sweet
potato starch amylose content has been reported between 8.5 and 35% (Table.3). Madamba et
al. (1975) reported amylose contents of sweet potato starches to be from 29.4 to 32.2 % for
the six cultivars. They found that six varieties of sweet potatoes from the Philippines had
amylose content that were lower than that of other root crops including cassava. Uehara
(1983) found an amylose content of 21.6 % in sweet potato starch. Watanabe et al. (1982)
reported that the amylose content of sweet potato starch was 20.9 %. Garcia and Walter
(1998) obtained values ranging from 20-25% (by potentiometric titration) for some Peruvian
cultivars. Curing had only a minor effect on amylose content (Bertoniere et al., 1966) or a
slight increase (Hammet and Barrentin, 1961). In general, sweet potato can have amylose
content slightly higher than that of cassava but less than that of wheat, maize or potato
Sweet Potato Starch 97

(Rickard et al., 1991). Delpeuch et al. (1978) concluded that the amylose content in sweet
potato was not affected by the manner of cultivation or the year of harvest.

Table 3. Physicochemical properties of sweet potato starches

Properties Range Reference


23.2-26.3 Hammett and Berrentin, 1961
29.6-32.4 Madamba et al., 1975
16.1-24.4 Madamba and San Pedro, 1976
17.5-18.3 Delpeuch et al., 1979
Amylose content (%) 13.4-22.5 Shen and Sterling, 1981
22 Watanabe et al., 1982
23.6-27.6 Shin and Ahn, 1982
8.5-17.3 Liu and Liang, 1983
14.8 Liu et al., 1985
17.2-19 Takeda et al., 1986a
25-28 Seog et al .1987
19.4-22.8 Chiang and Chen, 1988
27-38 Martin and Deshpande, 1985
21.5-22 Kitada et al. 1988
22-25 Shiotahi et al., 1991
Water binding capacity (%) 178.9-185.5 Shin and Ahn, 1983
66.3-211.6 Seog et al., 1987
Swelling volume (ml/g) 46 Woolfe,1992
27.5-33.3 (95°C) Chiang and Chen, 1988
24.5-27.4(85°C) Seog et al., 1987
63-95 (95°C) Seog et al., 1987
32-46 (80°C) Seog et al., 1987
Solubility (%) 18 Woolfe, 1992
13.2-14.4(95°C) Chiang and Chen, 1988
11.4-12.9(85°C) Seog et al., 1987
60-79(95°C) Seog et al., 1987
30-50(80°C) Seog et al., 1987
Digestibility (%) 14.9- 43.3 Fuwa et al., 1977
20.8 Ueda and Jaha, 1983
Acid resistance to 16 % 43.7% acid -resistant Nara et al., 1983
sulphuric acid at 50°C portion, 49.6 % low
acid- resistant portion

Alkali Number

The alkali number is a measure of the number of reducing end groups and is related to the
molecular weight (Schoch, 1964 a). Seog et al. (1987) reported that the alkali number values
of six Korean sweet potato starches ranged between 7.66 and 12.13.
98 S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas

Swelling and Solubility

Swelling power and solubility of starch is an important physicochemical property


determining the use of starch in different applications. When starch is heated in the presence
of water, the individual granules swell and a portion of the starch dissolves in the surrounding
aqueous medium. The degree of swelling and the amount of solubilisation depend on the
extent of chemical cross-bonding within the granules (Schoch, 1964b). The pattern of
progressive swelling and solubilisation of various starches have been compared over a range
of temperatures to provide information about the relative strengths of bonding within granules
(Rasper, 1969). Swelling power and solubility indicates the strength of non-covalent bonding
between starch molecules and depend on factors that include the amylose-amylopectin ratio,
chain length and molecular weight distribution, degree of branching and conformation
(Rickard et al., 1991). The swelling and solubility of starch permits comparison of relative
bond strength at specific temperatures (Leach et al., 1959).
The presence of non-carbohydrate substances in starch such as lipid or phosphate may
affect swelling (Leach et al., 1959; Moorthy and Ramanujan, 1986). Swelling power of sweet
potato starch varies considerably not only among varieties, but also at different temperatures.
Delpeuch and Favier (1980) have reported a two stage swelling but Madamba et al. (1975)
found a single stage swelling for the same starch (Figure 4). The lower swelling volume of
sweet potato starch has been attributed to a higher degree of intermolecular association
compared to cassava or potato starch.

Figure 4. Swelling and solubility patterns of sweet potato starches grown in Philippines (Madamba et
al., 1975).

Solubility of starch is influenced by a number of factors that include the source, inter-
associative forces, swelling power and presence of other components like lipids, surfactants,
salts, sugars, etc. The high swelling volume of the sweet potato starch is reflected in its
Sweet Potato Starch 99

solubility, which is similar to cassava starch. It was presumed that the bonding forces might
be tenuous but comparatively extensive, immobilising the starch within the granules even at
high levels of swelling. Reported solubilities of sweet potato starch ranged from
approximately 10-18 % (Madamba et al., 1975). The relatively high swelling of sweet potato
is not accompanied by high solubilities. This characteristic was also observed by Leach et al.
(1959) in potato. As reviewed by Tian et al. (1991), sweet potato amylose appears to be more
branched than that from cassava.
Comparative experiments have shown that the swelling and solubility of sweet potato
starch (Table 3) are less than those of potato and cassava, but generally more than those of
maize (Rasper, 1969; Delpeuch and Favier, 1980). It has therefore been suggested that sweet
potato starch has a higher degree of intermolecular association in its starch granules than has
potato or cassava starch (Madamba et al., 1975).

Water Binding Capacity

The water – binding capacity of starch gels has been commonly determined by the
method of Medcalf and Gilles (1965). The values for sweet potato range from 66.3 to 211.6%
as shown in Table 3. In general, root and tuberous starches have higher water –binding
capacities than those of cereal origin (Banks and Greenwood, 1975), and the majority of
workers have demonstrated that sweet potato starch has higher water –binding capacity than
potato (93%) (Dreher and Berry, 1983) and cassava starches (72-92%) (Rickard et al., 1991).

DIGESTIBILITY
Starch digestibility by enzymes is of importance for evaluating nutritive value and in
industrial applications. For raw starches, digestibility of cassava, sweet potato, Colocasia,
Xanthosoma and Amorphophallus starches is quite high (65-75%), comparable to corn starch
(76%). Sweet potato starch was found to be very susceptible to degradation by -amylase and
glycoamylase (Cerning-Beroard and Le Dividich, 1976). Digestibility of raw starch of eight
sweet potato varieties by glycoamylases was compared by Noda et al. (1992). Gallant et al.
(1982) found that ‗A‘ type starches showed high susceptibility to - amylase. They found that
pelletisation increased the raw starch digestibility with bacterial - amylase from 17% to
45%. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies indicated that enzymatic corrosion occurs
mainly at the surface of the granules. The susceptibility of sweet potato starch to - amylase
after 1-day incubation was found to range from 35.7-65.5 % weight loss among the six
cultivars tested.

Degradation by Acid

Dilute acids can be used to elucidate the architecture of the starch granule (Banks and
Greenwood, 1975). There is an initial attack on the amorphous regions which enhances
crystallinity and increases thermal stability (Biliaderis et al., 1981). The solubility on heating
100 S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas

increases with acid degradation and the viscosity is lowered but granular integrity can be
maintained even when 25% of the starch has been hydrolysed (Banks and Greenwood, 1975).
The susceptibility of sweet potato starches to acid corrosion showed highly significant
differences among cultivars (Rasper, 1969).
Nara et al. (1983) investigated the kinetics of acid degradation and found that it could be
described by two exponential hydrolysis rates, a fast hydrolysis of the amorphous regions and
a slow hydrolysis of the crystalline regions (Table 3). Sweet potato and maize both had a
large amount of acid-resistant starch, but the acid-resistant component of sweet potato starch
was hydrolysed at a faster rate than that of other starches.

Degradation by Enzymes

Enzymatic degradation can be evaluated by quantitative determination of the products


from digestion or by measuring the decrease in hot paste viscosity (Rasper, 1969). SEM can
also be used to examine the starch granules after attack (Hizukuri, 1969). Characteristics of α-
amylase action on sweet potato starch granules have been the subject of numerous
investigations and reports (Noda et al., 1992). Theses studies have shown that starches vary in
their resistance to the action of α-amylase. Starch susceptible to enzyme attack is influenced
by several factors such as amylose and amylopectin content, crystalline structure, particle size
and the presence of enzyme inhibitors. Among theses granular structure is believed to be most
important.
Both amylose and amylopectin are attacked by β-amylase in a step wise manner from the
non reducing ends, until cleavage reaches, on average, apposition two residues from the
branch points. β- amylase can be used to determine external chain lengths and to estimate the
number of branch points (Hokama et al., 1980; Lii et al., 1987; Manners, 1989). Lii et al.
(1987) reported a β-amylase limit for the amylase of sweet potato of 87.9%, substantially
greater than the results of Takeda et al. (1969). In contrast, α-amylase is able to attack the
polymers randomly at any α-1, 4-linkage that is sterically accessible. Varietal differences
among sweet potato starches in susceptibility to attack by α-amylase have been reported to be
highly significant (Madamba et al., 1975).

Retrogradation

On cooling, dispersions of gelatinized starch granules in water acquire the consistency of


gels. Above a critical concentration the swollen granules become entangled in amylose chains
which have diffused out of the starch granules. The resultant composite is in essence an
amylose gel with the swollen starch granules as a filter (Gidley, 1989). The above situation
may be further complicated where the starch granules are ruptured by shearing or other
methods of thermal or mechanical damage (Mestres et al., 1988). Further changes occur on
storage, involving recrystallisation (or retrogradation) of the polymer chains. Retrogradation
is affected by the amylose and amylopectin concentrations, the presence of other molecules
such as sugars, salts and emulsifiers, molecular size, temperature, pH and other non-starch
components (Del Rosario and Pontiveros, 1983).
Sweet Potato Starch 101

Takeda et al. (1986a) examined the retrogradation of sweet potato amylose which
appeared to retrograde at the same rate as that of cassava but more slowly than that of Irish
potato amylose. In contrast, Rasper (1969a) reported that sweet potato amylose retrograded
slower rate than that of cassava and also that sweet potato amylopectin retrograded at a
greater rate than that of cassava amylopectin. Del Rosario and Pontiveros (1983) found that
sweet potato starch retrograded more slowly than wheat, corn and cassava starches and
suggested that this was the reason for the observation that bread containing sweet potato flour
as a substituent staled at a slower rate than other breads. Retrogradation is usually
accompanied by gel hardening and by leakage of water from starch gel during storage.
Retrogradation properties of tuber and root starches have been investigated by Differential
Scanning Colorimetry (DSC), rheological measurements, FTIR (Fourier Transform Infra
Red), Raman spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction. However, most of the information available
are on potato and cassava starches (Hoover, 2001).

Sol Stability

Sol stability or paste stability reflects the retrogradation tendency of starch pastes.
Cassava and sweet potato starches have low retrogradation tendency and therefore exhibits
high paste stability.

THERMAL CHARACTERISTICS
DSC is an important tool to investigate starch gelatinisation (Biliaderis, 1983, 1990; John
and Shastri, 1998; Eliasson, 1994). Most of these DSC studies have been carried out on cereal
starches and to some extent on potato and cassava starches (Moorthy et al., 1996; Defloor et
al., 1998; Farhat et al., 1999; Stevens and Elton, 1971; Wootton and Bamunuarachchi, 1979;
Asaoka et al., 1992), whereas information on the DSC of the other root starches is
comparatively limited. As starch grains are heated in aqueous suspension, they take up water.
There are thought to be at least three main stages, hydration, swelling and melting of the
crystallites (Blanshard, 1979). The gelatinization properties of starch are related to variety of
factor including the size, proportion and kind of crystalline organization and ultra-structure of
the starch granules (Singh et al., 2005)
Gelatinisation temperature is indicative of the temperature at which the starch granules
starch gelatinising. The gelatinisation temperature is controlled not only by the water content
but also by the presence of salts, sugars and other small molecules. Average gelatinisation
temperature for starch from six cultivars of sweet potatoes was found to range from 63.6-70.7
°C by Madamba et al. (1975). A significant positive correlation was found between average
gelatinisation temperature and amylose content of the starches. A typical DSC pattern of
sweet potato starch is given in Figure 5. Gelatinisation occurred over a range of 12-17°C of
temperature change. Barham et al. (1946) found five cultivars had average gelatinisation
temperatures from 69-75.5 °C and that the average gelatinisation temperature was reduced
after curing the roots. Rasper (1969 b) reported that sweet potato starch began to gelatinise at
77 °C and continued the increase in viscosity until a temperature of 85°C was attained.
102 S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas

Figure 5. DSC pattern of sweet potato starch (Moorthy, 2002).

Collado et al. (1999) obtained considerable variation in all the DSC parameters of 44
sweet potato varieties. The mean Tonset was 64.6°C and range 61.3-70° C, mean Tpeak 73.9°C
(range 70.2-77°C) and mean Tend 84.6°C, range being 80.7-88.5°C and the mean
gelatinisation range was 20.1° with a range of 16.1 to 23°C. Garcia and Walter (1998) found
the range to be between 58-64°C for Tonset, 63-74°C for Tpeak and 78-83°C for Tend for the two
varieties cultivated at different locations. While selection index did not affect the values,
location influenced the parameters (Tian et al., 1991). Kitada et al. (1988) found that the
gelatinisation temperatures were affected by the region in the sweet potatoes had been grown.
Noda et al. (1998) reported that To, Tp, ∆H of 51 sweet potato starches differing in variety or
cultivation condition ranged between 55.7-73.1°C, 61.3-77.6 °C and 12.7-16.8 J/g. Noda et
al. (1995, 1998) reported that only small variations in chain length distributions (DP6-17) of
amylopectin determined by HPAEC (High Performance Anion Exchange Chromatography)
were observed in 31 varieties and 51 samples of sweet potato. Noda et al. (1996) did not find
effect of fertilisation on the DSC characteristics of two sweet potato varieties. During the
growth period, the Tonset was the lowest at the latest stage of development. Table 4 gives the
thermal characteristics of some of the common sweet potato starches. They reported that
increase in short outer chains of amylopectin reduced the packing efficiency of double helices
within the crystalline region, resulting in lower gelatinisation temperature and enthalpy.
Valetudie et al (1995) have compared the gelatinisation temperatures of starch from fresh
roots and freeze dried roots of sweet potato (Table 5).
A major factor controlling swelling is the strength of the internal structure of the granule
being the size, amylose content, molecular weight, crystallinity and the internal granular
organization (Banks and Greenwood, 1975; Takeda and Hizukuri, 1974; Madamba et al.,
1975). Starch gelatinisation may be described either in structural terms as a loss of
Sweet Potato Starch 103

macromolecular organization and order or as a swelling process (which also has major
rheological effects).

Table 4. Thermal properties of sweet potato starch

No T onset (°C) T peak(°C) T endset (°C) ∆H (J/g) Reference


1 67-75 73-79 81.4-84.8 10-12.3 Chiang and Chen, 1988
2 65.6-68.2 72.8- 74.3 84.6-86.8 15.1-16.3 Kitada et al, 1988
3 61.3 70.2-77 80.7-88.5 15.1-16.3 Collado et al., 1999
4 58-64 63-74 78-83 14.8-18.6 Wankhede and Sajjan, 1981
5 67.3 72.7 79.6 13.6 Valetudie et al., 1995

Gelatinisation enthalpy depends on a number of factors like crystallinity, intermolecular


bonding, etc. For sweet potato starch, the value for gelatinisation enthalpy lies between 10.0-
18.6 J/ g (Tian et al., 1991; Garcia and Walter 1998; Collado et al., 1999). The effect of
variety and environmental conditions was also evident (Garcia and Walter, 1998; Noda et al.,
1996). During growth period, the H was lowest at the earliest stage of development in two
sweet potato cultivars and the enthalpy ranged between 11.8-13.4 J/ g (Noda et al., 1992).

RHEOLOGICAL PROPERTIES
The intrinsic viscosity is related to the ability of polymer molecules to increase the
viscosity of the solvent, in the absence of any intermolecular interactions (Young, 1981).
Intrinsic viscosity is directly related to molecular size and hence to the degree of
polymerisation (Daniels, 1966). The intrinsic viscosity of starches from six cultivars was
found to be 120-155ml/g. This indicated that sweet potato starches are not as highly
polymerised as potato starch. Rasper (1969) found a maximum viscosity of sweet potato
starch of 590 BU (Branbender units), slightly viscous than gelatinised cassava starch but more
viscous than corn starch. The use of a lower concentration of starch would result in a general
lowering of the paste viscosities and the softening of peak viscosities and breakdown because
of reduced friction due to a lesser number of swollen granules (Figure 6) (Collado et al.,
1999). Several studies found that sweet potato starch does not show a peak viscosity at 4-6 %
(w/v) concentration (Tian et al., 1991). However Lii and Chang (1978) reported a moderate
peak and a high set back on cooling with at a starch concentration of 7%.
Varietal differences in viscosity have been reported as significant (Madamba et al., 1975;
Liu et al., 1985). Sweet potato amylose has a limiting viscosity higher than that of wheat but
lower than that of cassava or Irish potato amylose (Takeda et al., 1984, 1986). Similarly,
sweet potato amylopectin has a lower limiting viscosity number than Irish potato
amylopectin, suggesting smaller or more spherical molecules (Suzuki et al., 1985; Takeda et
al., 1986). Since the peak viscosity value indicates how readily the starch granules are
disintegrated, cohesive forces within the granules having higher values are stronger than those
having lower values. The consistency of the paste after holding at 93°Cfor 15 min, i.e.
breakdown viscosity provides an estimate of the resistance of the paste to disintegration in
response to heating and stirring. Setback defined as the difference between the breakdown
104 S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas

viscosity and the viscosity at 50 °C has been directly related to the amount of amylose
leached from the granule (Greenwood, 1979).

Figure 6. RVA pasting curve of sweet potato starch at 7% and 11% starch concentration (Collado et al.,
1999).

The rheological properties of sweet potato starch have been examined in detail. During
heating, the storage modulus (G‘) and loss modulus (G‖) increased while phase angle
decreased indicating change from sol to gel. The initial increase in G‘ and G‖ has been
attributed to progressive swelling of starch granules leading to close packing. When the starch
granules became very soft, deformable and compressible, decrease has been observed. The
rheological properties of various root starches have been compared using the Bohlin
rheometer and wide variability in the values of G‘ and G‘‘ was observed. During heating the
G‘ and G‖ increased and the phase angle from sol to gel was occurring (Figure 7). Both
moduli reached a maximum during heating after their values decreased (Garcia and Walter,
1998). Most of the reported values for G‘ and G‘‘ refer to starch pastes that have been held at
room temperature for several hours after heating. G; for 6% corn and potato starch solutions
at 60°C have been reported to be 132 Pa and 124 Pa, respectively (Evans and Haisman,
1979).
However, all the different root starches exhibited uniformity in their elastic behaviour
predominating over viscous nature. Sweet potato starch behaves in a similar way to cassava
starch in all its viscosity characters. In a study of 44 different sweet potato genotypes using
Rapid Visco Analyser (RVA), the correlations among the RVA parameters were reported
(Collado et al., 1999). They observed wide variation not only in the PV (peak viscosity) but
broadness of peak. The rheological properties of sweet potato starch extracted using an
enzymatic process did not vary among the different concentrations of enzyme (Moorthy and
Balagopalan, 1999).
Sweet Potato Starch 105

Figure 7. Storage modulus, Loss modulus and Phase angle for Peruvian sweet potato starch (Garcia et
al., 1998).
106 S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas

Pasting Temperature

The consistency of the paste, the properties of the gel and the latter‘s viscosity during the
pasting cycle are important for many industrial applications because they influence important
quality characteristics (Leelavathi et al., 1987). The Brabender amylograph provides a good
method for defining these characteristics. The pasting temperature of sweet potato starch
obtained using Brabender Viscograph varied between 66.0 and 86.3°C while microscopic
determination gave values between 57-70°C to 70-90°C. Noda et al. (1996) observed the
pasting temperatures of starch from two sweet potato cultivars grown at different fertiliser
levels to be 70.8 –73.9 °C. Starch pasting properties influence sweet potato eating quality and
noodle quality and also are directly responsible for starch industrial uses (Collado et al.,
1999). The pasting temperature of sweet potato starch varies between 62-86°C (Tian et al.,
1991, Kitahara et al. 1999, Collado and Corke, 1997). In the study conducted by (Katayama
et al., 2002) also showed pasting temperatures similar to previous reports.

USE OF ENZYMATIC TECHNIQUES FOR STARCH SEPARATION


As the recovery of sweet potato starch is very low and therefore expensive, the enzymatic
modification has been employed. With the increased availability of commercial enzymes
which break down cellulose and pectin, attempts have been made to use them to improve the
extractability of starch. Kallabanski and Balagopalan (1991) studied the effect of cellulolytic
and pectinolytic enzymes on the extraction of starch from sweet potato roots, the yield
showed a substantial increase.

Properties of Enzymatically Separated Sweet Potato Starch

The extract from sweet potato with different concentrations of enzyme (up to 0.2%)
contained 90-93% of starch (Table 6) and this indicates that only a small quantity of fibrous
material is being extracted. The absence of large amounts of fibre in the enzymatically
separated starch from sweet potato indicates that the non-starchy polysaccharides are
completely broken down and do not contaminate the starch. The reducing values of the starch
from enzyme treatments were small (Table 6) and as expected since the enzymes are
pectinolytic and cellulolytic and has not affected the starch granules.
The viscosity data of starches from enzymatic and conventional extraction recorded using
Brabender Viscograph is given in Table.7. The peak viscosity varied depending on the
concentration of starch used. With 5 and 6 % pastes, the peak viscosity increased for the
extracts obtained with increasing amounts of the enzymes, up to 0.025 or 0.05 % and with
0.25 (%) enzyme it dropped appreciably. With the 7% paste, there was a fairly steady drop in
peak viscosity as the enzyme concentration increased. This is probably due to a weakening on
the associate forces rather than to a breakdown of starch granules. The breakdown viscosity
was also increased with the higher levels of the enzymes. The pasting temperature did not
show any definite pattern, but generally there was a shift to lower temperatures with
increasing concentrations of the enzyme.
Sweet Potato Starch 107

Table 5. DSC characteristics of the hydrothermic transition of purified starches and


fresh and freeze dried*

Sweet potato T onset (°C) T peak(°C) T endset (°C) ∆H (J/g)


Starch 67.3 72.7 79.6 13.6
Fresh tubers 67.4 73.5 80.1 6.8
Freeze-dried tubers 67.8 73.2 81.5 9.3
Small starch granules 75.6 82.6 88.3 15.3
*S.N. Moorthy, unpublished results.

Table 6. Properties of enzymatically separated sweet potato starch*

Starch conc Enzyme conc Peak viscosity Breakdown Pasting


(%) (%) (BU) viscosity (BU) temperature (°C)
0.000 260 0 87-95
0.010 280 0 86-95
0.025 300 40 85-95
5 0.050 280 40 84-95
0.100 280 100 82-89
0.0200 220 40 82-90
0.000 440 20 88-95
0.010 460 40 87-94
6 0.025 500 40 86-95
0.050 500 100 84-92
0.100 460 120 82-92
0.0200 400 60 82-88
0.000 780 0 8895
0.010 760 60 88-95
0.025 740 100 84-95
7 0.050 760 160 84-95
0.100 680 200 82-90
0.0200 600 120 82-89
*S.N. Moorthy, unpublished results.

Table 7. Viscosity properties of enzymatically separated sweet potato starch


(S.N. Moorthy, unpublished results)

Enzyme conc Starch content Reducing Swelling Solubility (%)


(%) (%) value volume (%)
0.000 90.33 1.37 19.50 22.5
0.010 91.00 1.35 17.50 19.5
0.025 92.05 1.50 20.50 20.2
0.050 90.92 1.85 17.85 22.3
0.100 91.25 2.25 17.75 37.5
0.200 90.85 1.95 18.25 39.5
108 S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas

STUDIES ON THE LIQUEFACTION AND SACCHARIFICATION OF


SWEET POTATO STARCH
Liquefaction and Saccharification

Liquefaction studies were repeated for sweet potato (variety: S10) using different
concentrations of Termamyl 60 L and one concentration of starch, i.e., 20%. Sweet potato
starch was prepared from mature, undamaged roots as in the case of cassava starch.
Liquefaction was done at 90C at pH 6.5 and the time course production of reducing sugars
was monitored up to 1h at 15 min intervals.
The results presented in Table 8 indicate that as in the case of cassava, rapid hydrolysis of
1→ 4 linkages within 15–30 min itself occurred when higher concentration of enzyme was
present in the system. After 1 h, around 26-28% starch conversion to dextrins and sugars was
observed with 240-480 mg Termamyl. With 30 mg Termamyl, only 11% conversion was
observed. As in the case of cassava starch, the low conversion of starch to reducing groups by
30 mg Termamyl did not influence the subsequent saccharification step by 0.05 ml
Amyloglucosidase (Table 9). This reconfirmed the finding that a low amount of Termamyl at
the liquefaction stage can economise the reaction by reducing the enzyme cost.
Saccharification also appears to be almost completed by 48h and hence continuing up to 72h
was not necessary, as this will only lead to increase in the operational expenses.

Table 8. Enzyme hydrolysis of sweet potato (variety S10) starch using  - amylase –
Effect of enzyme concentration on the rate of glucose production*

- After 15 minutes After 30 minutes After 45 minutes After 60 minutes


amylase Amt. of Percent Amt. of Percent Amt. of Percent Amt. of Percent
conc. reducing conver- reducing conver- reducing conver- reducing conver-
(mg/100 sugar sion to sugar sion to sugar sion to sugar sion to
ml formed reducing formed reducing formed reducing formed reducing
slurry) (g) sugar (g) sugar (g) sugar (g) sugar

30 1.57 8.84 1.66 9.34 1.98 11.15 2.09 11.79


60 2.24 12.57 2.61 14.67 2.75 15.44 3.07 17.25
120 2.52 14.16 3.08 17.33 3.28 18.42 3.67 20.65
480 3.86 21.69 4.15 23.36 4.69 26.38 5.15 28.98
*S.N. Moorthy, unpublished results.

Viscosity Profile of the Liquefaction Reaction

The viscosity changes during the liquefaction of sweet potato starch were monitored
using the RVA using similar systems as in the case of cassava starch. Tremendous reduction
in viscosity was observed when 30 -90 mg Termamyl 60L was added to the 1:10 starch slurry
(Table 10). Sweet potato starch required a higher enzyme concentration of 30 mg to reach this
stage in RVA. This indicates the possible differences in the initial susceptibility to α-amylase
attack of the starches i.e., cassava and sweet potato starch.
Sweet Potato Starch 109

Post-harvest treatments such as the method of starch isolation, as well as genetic factors,
may have a profound effect on the properties of sweet potato starch. The environmental
conditions during growth of a plant, especially the temperature, constitute one of the
important factors affecting the physicochemical characteristics of starch granules, besides
genetic and endogenous factors (Hizukuri, 1969).

Table 9. Percentage conversion of starch after saccharification by AMG on sweet potato


starch slurry (liquefied using two concentrations of Termamyl*

Liquefaction Saccharification
 - amylase Percent AMG conc. Percentage conversion
Starch
(mg/100ml conversion (ml/100ml
conc. (g) After 24 h 48 h 72 h
slurry) (after 1 h) slurry)

20 30 11.79 0.05 85.08 82.73 86.83


20 240 26.43 0.05 80.40 84.69 82.33
*S.N. Moorthy, unpublished results.

Table 10. Viscosity reduction of sweet potato (variety-S10) starch by adding  - amylase
as measured using Rapid Visco Analyser*

Sl. -amylase Peak 1 Trough Breakdown Final Set Peak Pasting


No. conc. (mg) (cP) 1 (cP) (cP) Viscosity back time (C)
(cP) (cP) (Sec)
1. Control 4020.00 2254.00 1766.00 3056.00 802.00 4.07 77.40
2. 1.2 1081.00 16.00 1065.00 23.00 7.00 3.47 75.80
3. 2.4 757.00 10.00 747.00 14.00 4.00 3.47 75.80
4. 3.75 496.00 13.00 483.00 13.00 0.00 3.40 75.80
5. 7.5 122.00 2.00 120.00 5.00 3.00 3.40 76.75
6. 15 63.00 -1.00 64.00 9.00 10.00 3.33 76.00
7. 30 17.00 -1.00 18.00 -1.00 0.00 3.33 Error
8. 60 10.00 -3.00 13.00 0.00 3.00 3.73 Error
9. 90 5.00 -2.00 7.00 -2.00 0.00 3.80 Error
*S.N. Moorthy, unpublished results.

Starch content and dry matter content are the main properties of raw material for starch
production. A new sweet potato breeding line, Kanto 116 was developed, featuring low
gelatinisation temperature and an altered starch fine structure and having pasting temperature
of 20 V (viscosity) lower than those of ordinary cultivars (Katayama et al., 2002). Starch
granule from Kanto 116 showed an abnormal morphology characterized by cracking into
granules. A number of studies on the distinctive properties of sweet potato starch have been
undertaken in the last two decades (Tian et al., 1991; Moorthy, 2002). Kitahara et al. (1996,
1999) reported a new line with low amylose content and two lines having approximately
10°C lower pasting temperatures than ordinary cultivars. Some new sweet potato lines were
developed from progenies of a new cultivar, Quick Sweet, having a low pasting temperature
(Katayama et al., 2004). The results indicated that this ‗Quick Sweet‘ is a useful breeding
material for improving pasting and retrogradation properties in sweet potato starch. The
110 S. N. Moorthy and S. Shanavas

potential chemopreventive properties of dietary fiber prepared from sweet potato roots were
examined to promote the demand of this residue from the starch industry (Yoshimoto et al.,
2005; Yoshimoto, chapter 3 in this Volume).
Sweet potato starch has some unique characteristics and is mostly used by the food
industry as an ingredient in products such as cakes, breads, biscuits, cookies and noodles
(Zang and Oates, 1999). Noodles, bread, boiled rice and pasta have played an important role
in the human diet, especially in the Asian countries (Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam
and Thailand). Based on the raw materials, various types of noodles are produced throughout
the world. In terms of food products, four quality attributes are important being nutritional,
phytosanitary, shelf-life and organoleptic. These qualities depend on flour and starch quality.
Thus starch properties largely influence noodle quality. Starch with high amylose content and
with C-type pasting profile characterized by the absence of a peak viscosity and a constant or
increased viscosity during continuous heating and shearing, i.e., good hot paste stability is
reported to be suitable for noodle processing (Collado and Corke, 1999).They reported that
the textural attributes of sweet potato noodles show high positive correlation with some starch
paste properties. It is also reported that the smaller particle size of the granule improves the
strength of uncooked noodles without affecting the firmness of cooked noodle (Oh et al.,
1985).

CONCLUSION
Sweet potato is therefore one of the worlds most important starch producing crops, with
95 % of all roots produced in Asia and Africa. Sweet potato is used as direct food, processed
foods, industrial starch and animal feed. The utility of sweet potato is primarily determined by
its physicochemical properties, being the amylose/amylopectin ratio, the molecular structure,
granule size and inorganic constituents. Pasting properties influence the quality of food
processing materials and industrial products. Being a nontraditional source of starch, the
characterization of genetic variation and interrelationships of sweet potato starch physical
properties that can guide utilisation is therefore essential. An awareness of their potential uses
can help in large scale cultivation of these crops and extraction of starch from them. It is also
possible to modify the starch properties by simple physical methods such as hydro- thermal or
steam-pressure treatments. The latest developments in biotechnology are also being evaluated
for their potential to modify the starches. These include fermentation of starch by the use of
selective organism or enzymatic modification, which can bring about specific substitutions
(Sair, 1967; Raja, 1990; Moorthy, 1999).
Current research is seeking to produce a new cultivar and breeding materials with
distinctive amylose content and pasting properties. The role of dietary fibre in human
nutrition has attracted growing interest in recent years. Most of the research programmes
carried out on sweet potato are attempting to reduce the content of crude fibre for improved
eating quality. Furthermore, the production of ethanol from biomasses is a growing industry
in this continuously developing society. The sweet potato having high starch yield and low
gelatinisation temperature may be effective in reducing these production costs. The various
improvements in starch properties are useful for providing consumers with starch products
and spreading the demand for sweet potato starch.
Sweet Potato Starch 111

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Editors: R. C. Ray and K. I. Tomlins © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Chapter 5

SWEET POTATO PUREES AND DEHYDRATED


POWDERS FOR FUNCTIONAL FOOD INGREDIENTS 

Van-Den Truong1 and Ramesh Y. Avula2


1
USDA-ARS Food Science Research Unit, Department of Food,
Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, North Carolina State University,
Raleigh, NC 27695-7624, USA
2
Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia,
Athens, GA 30602, USA

ABSTRACT
Processing technologies have been developed in various parts of the world to convert
sweet potatoes into purees and dehydrated forms that can be used as functional
ingredients in numerous food products. This chapter reviews the processing operations
involved in these technologies and their effects on quality, storability, nutritional values
and rheological properties of sweet potato purees and powders/flours. For purees, the
processing steps include peeling, cutting/grinding, and pre-cooking/finish-cooking with
temperature-time program suitable for starch conversion by endogenous amylolytic
enzymes to obtain the products with targeted maltose levels and viscosities. The purees
can be subsequently preserved by refrigerated and frozen storage, canning, or aseptic
packaging. However, poor product quality due to excessive thermal treatments in
canning, high cost of investment associated with frozen products and limited package
sizes of these preserved forms are the main hurdles for widespread applications of sweet
potato purees in the food industry. These problems can be overcome by a new process
using a continuous flow microwave system for rapid sterilization and aseptic packaging
to produce shelf-stable purees with consistently high quality. Sweet potato purees can be
further processed into drum- or spray-dried powders. In many countries, solar drying and


Paper no. FSR08- … of the Journal Series of the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, NC
State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7624. Mention of a trademark or proprietary product does not constitute
a guarantee or warranty of the product by the U. S. Department of Agriculture or North Carolina Agricultural
Research Service, nor does it imply approval to the exclusion of other products that may be suitable.

Corresponding author: Van- den Truong at (919) 513-7781; fax (919) 513-0180; E-mail:
Den.Truong@ars.usda.gov
118 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

mechanical drying in cabinets and tunnels are common in producing sweet potato dried
chips which are pulverized into flours. Extrusion technology and chemical treatments are
also applied to produce sweet potato powders for specific functionality. With high levels
of carbohydrates, ß-carotene (orange-fleshed varieties) and anthocyanins (purple-fleshed
varieties), sweet potato purees and dehydrated forms can be used as functional
ingredients to impart desired textural properties and phytonutrient content in processed
food products.

ABBREVIATIONS
CPV cold paste viscosity;
DPPH 2, 2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl;
DS degree of substitution;
DSC Differential Scanning Colorimeter;
DRI dietary reference intake;
GI glycemic index;
HPV hot paste viscosity;
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration;
ORAC oxygen radical absorbance capacity;
PER protein efficiency ratio;
SAPP sodium acid pyrophosphate;
PV peak viscosity;
RTE ready- to- eat.

INTRODUCTION
Sweet potato ranks the seventh most important food crop in the world and fourth in
tropical countries (FAOSTAT, 2004). In comparison to other major staple food crops, sweet
potato has the following positive attributes: wide production geography, adaptability to
marginal condition, short production cycle, high nutritional value and sensory versatility in
terms of flesh colors, taste and texture. Depending on the flesh color, sweet potatoes are rich
in ß -carotene, anthocyanins, total phenolics, dietary fiber, ascorbic acid, folic acid and
minerals (Woolfe, 1992; Bovell-Benjamin, 2007; ILSI, 2008). Therefore, sweet potato has an
exciting potential for contributing to the human diets around the world. However, the world
trends in sweet potato production and consumption do not support the position of this highly
nutritious vegetable. In the United States, the annual per capita consumption of sweet potato
was declined in the last decades from 12 kg to 2 kg while the potato consumption was
increased to over 60 kg (USDA, 2002). The situation can be attributable to the inadequacy in
sweet potato manufacturing technologies for processed products, and the increased demand of
consumers for convenient products. Research efforts have demonstrated that sweet potatoes
can be made into liquid and semi-solid food products such as beverages, soups, baby foods,
ice cream, baked products, restructured fries, breakfast cereals, and various snack and dessert
items (Collins and Walter, 1992; Dansby and Bovell-Benjamin, 2003a; Truong, 1992; Truong
et al., 1995; Walter et al., 2001, Woolfe, 1992). Puree and dehydrated forms processed from
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 119

sweet potatoes are the main ingredients that provide the functionality required in these
processed products. For the food processing industry, the unavailability of puree and
dehydrated forms for diverse functionalities is a limiting factor in the utilization of sweet
potatoes in processed foods. Several excellent reviews dealing with processing and quality
aspects of sweet potato purees, flakes and powders have been published over the past 20 years
(Collins and Walter, 1992; Kays, 1985; van Hal, 2000; Woolfe, 1992). This chapter updates
these reviews with recent developments in processing technologies to convert sweet potatoes
into purees and powders that can be readily used by the food industry as functional
ingredients in processed foods.

SWEET POTATO PUREES AS FUNCTIONAL INGREDIENTS


The use of sweet potatoes in the food industry often involves processing of the roots into
purees that can be subsequently frozen, canned or packaged in aseptic conditions to produce
shelf-stable products for year-round availability of the produce. For pureeing, roots of all
sizes and shapes can be processed to make acceptable puree and therefore, the entire
harvested crop is utilized including the 30-40% off-grade from the fresh root markets. Purees
from the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes have been commercially produced in cans or in frozen
form in the U. S (Kays, 1985; Walter and Schwartz, 1993). In Japan, both white- or orange-
fleshed cultivars are utilized for processing into paste for incorporation into bread and ice
cream (Woolfe, 1992). The challenges in puree processing industry are: (1) the difficulty in
adjusting the process to account for differences in cultivar types; root handling, curing, and
storage; and other parameters in order to produce consistent, and high puree quality, and (2)
the preservation technology that could produce shelf-stable product for convenient
incorporation in processed foods.
A wide range of dry matter (18 – 45%) and starch content (8 – 33.5%, fresh weight basis)
exists among sweet potato genotypes (Brabet et al., 1998; Yencho et al., 2008) which have
significant impact on processing operations and quality of the purees. Post-harvest handling
of sweet potatoes can have significant effect on the purees made from them. Metabolic
changes may affect the appearance, texture, flavor and nutrient composition of the purees.
Curing by subjecting sweet potatoes to 30C, 85% to 90% relative humidity for 4-7 days as
commercially practiced in the U. S. can result in an increase in sugars, and a decrease in
starch and alcohol-insoluble solids (Boyette et al., 1997). Several investigators reported that
changes in carbohydrate components and enzyme activities (α-amylase, β-amylase, invertases
and sucrose synthase) during curing and storage of sweet potatoes are genotype dependent
(Huang et al., 1999; Picha, 1986; Takahata et al., 1995; Walter, 1987).
In general, amylase activities in sweet potato roots are increased by curing and storage
especially during the first few months, then remain fairly constant or decrease to the levels at
harvest (Shen and Sterling, 1981; Walter et al., 1976; Zhang et al., 2002). On the other hand,
there are genotypes, e.g. Kyukei 123, with relatively constant levels of starch, sucrose and
amylase activity throughout storage (Takahata et al., 1995). The activities of α-amylase and
β-amylase in raw sweet potatoes affect the processing operations and quality of the purees.
When the sweet potatoes are heated to starch gelatinization temperature (60 to 78C), α-
amylase rapidly degrades the starch to lower molecular weight dextrins which are
120 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

concurrently hydrolyzed into maltose by β-amylase. The degree of starch degradation and
maltose formation is dependent on the activities of amylases and heating program in the
process of pureeing. Therefore, for a given sweet potato variety, it is expected that cured and
stored roots with increasing amylase activities will produce purees which are sweeter and less
starchy than those of the just-harvested (green) roots. However, there is a genotype difference
in the amounts of maltose produced in the cooked sweet potatoes. Takahata et al. (1994)
classified sweet potato varieties into high, moderate and low maltose formation after
steaming. The genotypes with high maltose formation in cooked roots tended to have early
gelatinization of starch granules (< 70C) and ß -amylase with high heat stability up to 78 -
82ºC. A new sweet potato breeding line, Kanto 116, was developed in Japan; this genotype
has starch with pasting temperature of 51.4 – 52.6ºC, approximately 20ºC lower than those in
the common sweet potato cultivars (Katayama et al., 2002).

Processing of Sweet Potato Purees

Over the years, techniques have been developed for puree processing in order to produce
purees with consistent quality, as mentioned above, despite the variations due to cultivar
differences and post-harvest practices. Several methods for sweet potato puree processing
were developed since 1960‘s, and the subject was reviewed by Collins and Walter (1992),
Kays (1985) and Woolfe (1992). Process operations for pureeing of sweet potatoes (Figure 1)
involve washing, peeling, hand-trimming, cutting, steamed blanching or cooking, and
grinding into purees which can be subjected to canning or freezing for preservation.
Washing: Sweet potatoes are stored without removing the dirt for prolonging storability.
In the United States, prior to delivery to the fresh root markets, stored sweet potatoes are
passed through the packing line for washing, treating with fungicide and sizing. The roots are
generally unloaded from the pallet bins into a tank of water, conveyed to high-pressure spray
washers wherein water at 250 psi is directly sprayed at the surface of sweet potatoes as they
tumble over rotating brushes. The washed roots are then sorted by size using pitch roller
sizers or electronic sensors (Boyette et al., 1997). The size number 1 roots are selected and
packed in carton boxes for table stock markets. The misshapen, undersized or jumbo-sized
roots, about 30% of the crop, are considered as the rejects and offered to the processing
companies. In places where the whole harvest is delivered to the processing factories, sweet
potatoes can be washed with revolving drum washer. Truong et al. (1990) described a low-
cost washer made of an empty drum with rotating frame holding brushes and having a
capacity of 300 kg roots/hr.
Peeling and Rewashing: Prior to peeling, the cleaned roots can be preheated in hot water
for a short time to provide some benefits including reduction of peeling time and enzymatic
discoloration by polyphenolic oxidase (Bouwkamp, 1985). However, several investigators
reported that preheating treatment of the unpeeled roots is not necessary (Edmond and
Ammerman, 1971). Sweet potato peel can be removed by abrasive rollers, lye solutions, a
combination of lye and steam peeling or high pressure steam. In lye peeling, cleaned roots are
conveyed into 10-22% lye solution at 104ºC for 3 to 6 min and then transferred to a rotary
washer with high-pressure water spray to remove the lye residue, loosened peel and adhere
softened tissue. Peeling losses range from 20-40% of the raw material depending on the lye
concentration, residence time and root sizes (Scott et al., 1970). Due to the issues on
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 121

equipment corrosion and waste disposal, lye peeling is no longer a common method in the
industry.
Abrasive peelers with capacity of few hundreds to over a thousand kg roots/hr can be
used in peeling sweet potatoes (Kays, 1985; Taylor, 1982; van Hal, 2000). High-pressure
steam peeling developed by Harris and Smith (1985, 1986) is being used by many sweet
potato processing companies. The technology is referred as a thermal blast process in which
the roots are enclosed for a short time (20 to 90 sec) in a chamber pressurized with heated
steam, followed by an instantaneous release of pressure. As the pressure suddenly release, the
super-heated liquid water beneath the skin surface immediately flashed into vapor, and
blasted the peel off the roots. This process can be automated, result in less peeling loss than
lye peeling, and produce a product with less enzymatic discoloration (Smith et al., 1980).
Studies on the effect of lye peeling on amylase activities, starch hydrolysis, phenolic
degradation and carotene loss on the surface of sweet potato roots were conducted by Walter
and Schadel (1982), Walter and Giesbrecht (1982). Hagenimana et al. (1992) has shown that
α-amylase is strongly localized in the periderm, the vascular cambium and the anomalous
cambium of sweet potato roots while β-amylase is abundant and well distributed throughout
the root. During lye peeling, heat and alkali gelatinize starch in the root outer layers where
thermostable α-amylase results in starch conversion into maltose and dextrins. However, there
is limited understanding in these aspects of the steam flash peeling on the surface of sweet
potato roots.
Trimming and Cutting: Peeled sweet potatoes are next conveyed along a trimming and
inspecting line for trimming the surface blemishes and fibrous ends and removing the
diseased roots. The materials are then fed to size reduction machine for cutting into slices,
strips and cubes or grinding into fine particles using a hammer mill or pulp finisher. Cutting
and grinding machines with capacity up to over 1000 kg/hr are being used for this operation.
Pureeing Processes: The techniques that have been developed for processing sweet
potato into purees are illustrated in Figure 1. The purees can be simply produced by steam
cooking of the peeled roots, chunks, slices, strips, cubes or ground particles, and passing the
cooked materials through a pulp finisher. However, the aforementioned challenges became an
issue in getting the product with consistent quality. Addition of α- and β-amylases can be
applied to obtain the desired amount of starch conversion (Hoover, 1966; Szyperski et al.,
1986). This method, however, introduces food additives to the process that are usually
disliked by consumers. Another approach employs the enzyme activation technique using the
endogenous amylolytic enzymes for starch hydrolysis (Hoover and Harmon, 1967), and this
process is now commonly used in the food industry. As shown in Figure 1, the peeled sweet
potatoes can be either cut into cubes of 2 cm, strips of 2 x 2 x 6 cm and slices of 0.5 - 0.95 cm
thick (Walter and Schwartz, 1993; Truong et al., 1994) or mashed using a hammer mill with
rotating blades to chop and push the materials through a 1.5 – 2.3 mm mesh screen (Szyperski
et al., 1986). Next, the materials are steamed blanched at 65 to 75°C which activates the
amylases and gelatinizes the starch for hydrolysis. For the process with slices, strips and
cubes, comminuting the blanched materials into puree is carried out at this point using the
hammer mill. The blanched puree is pumped into a surge tank and hold at 65 - 75°C for
further starch hydrolysis depending on the targeted maltose levels. Raw sweet potato mash as
a source of amylases can be optionally added at this stage to increase starch conversion.
Alpha- and ß- amylases hydrolyze the starch producing maltose, maltotriose, glucose and
dextrins.
122 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

Figure 1. Different processes for sweet potato puree production.

The majority of maltose production is likely completed in the first few minutes of the
starch conversion process. Hoover and Harmon (1967) found maltose is the only sugar
produced and the majority of maltose was produced in the first 10 minutes of cooking at
temperatures of 70 to 80°C. McArdle and Bouwkamp (1986) also reported that rapid heating
of raw sweet potato slurries to 80ºC may be optimal for starch conversion. However, further
decreases in the molecular size of starch and dextrins occur for up to 60 minutes resulting in
the purees with high maltose content and low apparent viscosity (Walter et al., 1976; 1999).
In order to control the process to produce a consistent product, the length of conversion time
can be adjusted from a few minutes to 1 hour depending on the starch content and amylase
activity in the raw materials. After starch conversion, the temperature is raised to 100 - 110°C
in a heat exchanger to inactivate the enzymes, and a final grinding step will be carried out
with the use of a pulp finisher to obtain the smooth puree. The temperature and time program
in the described pre-cook/finish cook process has significant effects on the puree quality. A
very fast heating procedure tended to result in puree with low levels of maltose and high
viscosity, and a temperature and time program that allows sufficient amylase-hydrolysis on
gelatinized starch would produce sweet and more flowable purees (Walter and Schwartz,
1993; Ridley et al., 2005).
The developed technologies for puree processing were based mainly on the orange-
fleshed sweet potato cultivars with high ß-carotene, low dry matter (18-21%) and low starch
content [8-10% on fresh weight basis (fwb)] (Walter and Schwartz, 1993; Yencho et al.,
2008). This sweet potato type has moist texture after cooking, produces purees that are
viscous, but flowable, and can be handled in various processing operations (Truong et al.,
1995; Coronel et al., 2005). On the other hand, sweet potatoes with white, yellow and purple
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 123

flesh colors have higher levels of dry matter (25-38%) with potentially different starch
properties (Walter et al., 2000), which may present challenges for the commercial production
of flowable purees from these materials. Therefore, the processing hurdle in pureeing these
sweet potato types could be overcome by either addition of water to decrease the solid levels
of the material to 18-21%, amylase hydrolysis of starch components, or a combination of the
two treatments. For cost-effective reasons, water addition can be adapted as a simple
approach in processing of purple-fleshed sweet potato purees that have flowability similar to
the purees from the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (Steed and Truong, 2008).

Packaging and Preservation of Sweet Potato Purees

Canning and Freezing: The finish-cooked puree can be packaged in cans and retorted to
produce shelf-stable product. The puree can also be filled in plastic containers for refrigerated
or frozen storage (Collins and Walter, 1992; Kays, 1985; Pérez-Díaz et al., 2008; Walter and
Wilson, 1992). Ice et al. (1980) and Creamer et al. (1983) reported that pH adjustment of
sweet potato puree to 1.5, 4.5 and 11.5 prior to filling in jars followed by pasteurizing at 90ºC
could prolong the shelf-life of the product up to 9 months at room temperature. Preservation
by canning for low acid food such as sweet potato purees (pH, 5.8 – 6.3) usually involves
excessive thermal treatment of the product because heat transfer in the puree is mainly by
conduction. Excessive thermal treatment of the product also results in severe degradation of
color, flavor, texture, and nutrients. An example is the institutional-size can size 607x 700
which is required to retort for over 165 minutes at 121 °C (Lopez, 1987). The slow- rate of
heat transfer from the wall to the center of the can to attain commercial sterilization of the
product limits the maximum can size of number 10 for canned sweet potato purees. This size
limitation is another obstruction for the wider uses of sweet potato purees as a food ingredient
in the food industry. Other issues associated with canning include the difficulty in handling,
opening and dispensing of the product, and disposal of emptied cans. Nevertheless, canning
does not have the need for special storage, lower capital investment and unit of production is
less when comparing to refrigerated and frozen puree.
Frozen puree is an established method for preservation which provides the lower
degradation on nutritional and sensory quality as compared to can processing. However,
preservation by freezing requires considerable investment in frozen distribution and storage
as well as space, energy, time-consuming, and poorly controlled defrosting treatment before
use. Currently, only limited amount of canned and frozen sweet potato purees are
commercially produced by a few companies in the U. S. and Japan.
Microwave-assisted Sterilization and Aseptic Packaging: Aseptic processing is
considered as a potential alternative to overcome the stated problems associated with canning
and low temperature preservation. As opposed to conventional canning, the use of high
temperature for a short period of time in aseptic processing can produce a higher quality
product with equal or better level of microbiological safety as that in a conventional canning
system. Smith et al. (1982) described an improved canning process for sweet potato purees
which involved flash sterilization and followed by aseptic filling, that resulted in a shelf-
stable and high quality product. However, scaling-up of the technology for achieving beyond
the cans and process validation were not carried out for commercial development. Since then,
further application of aseptic processing and packaging technology of food products in
124 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

flexible containers, has not been successfully carried out for purees from sweet potatoes and
other vegetables.
Recently, a process for rapid sterilization and aseptic packaging of the orange-fleshed
sweet potato purees using a continuous flow microwave system operated at 915 MHz has
been successfully developed (Coronel et al.., 2005). This process has the advantage of
avoiding long retort processing schedules, maintaining high quality retention, and producing
shelf-stable products. The resulting product packed in flexible plastic containers had the color
and viscosity comparable to the non-sterilized puree and was shelf-stable for at least 12
months. Purple-fleshed sweet potato purees were also successfully processed into high quality
aseptic product using the continuous flow microwave system (Steed et al.., 2008). With this
technology, shelf-stable purees with consistently high quality can be packaged into virtually
unlimited container sizes (up to 300 gallons) for conveniently utilizing as food ingredients in
the food processing industry. This technology can be extended to highly viscous biomaterials
and purees from other fruits and vegetables. In this new process, sweet potato puree is loaded
into the hopper, and pumped through the system. Microwaves are generated from a 60 kW,
915 MHz microwave generator and delivered to the puree by a waveguide of rectangular
cross-section which is split into two sections and led to two specially designed cylindrical
applicators. The puree is preheated to 100ºC in the lower applicator, then to sterilizing
temperatures of 130 - 135ºC in the upper applicator, stayed in the holding tube for 30 sec,
rapidly cooled in a tubular heat exchanger, and then aseptically packaged in aluminum-
polyethylene laminated bags (Coronel et al.., 2005; Simunovic et al., 2006).
In microwave processing, dielectric properties have a major role in determining the
interaction between puree and the electromagnetic energy. Matching the dielectric properties
of the material and the required microwave energy for adequate thermal treatment is very
important to avoid over- or under- heating in aseptic processing of sweet potato puree
(Coronel et al., 2005; Fasina et al., 2003a). The variation in chemical composition of the
sweet potato purees is due to cultivars and post-harvest handling of raw materials, as
described above, which may affect the microwave heating behavior of the purees. Brinley et
al. (2008) developed predictive equations for dielectric constant and dielectric loss factor as a
function of processing variables and puree composition such as temperature, moisture, sugar,
and starch in the purees. The predictive equations are helpful in scaling up a continuous
microwave heating system as well as determining the microwave heating patterns of purees
from sweet potatoes with varying flesh colors for commercial operations. A technique for
microbial validation of the process using biological indicators containing spores of thermal
resistant bacteria (Geobacillus stearothermophilus and Bacillus subtilis) was also developed
(Brinley et al., 2007). Other technical aspects associated with the scale-up of this technology
such as the application of static mixing devices to improve the uniformity of temperature
distribution and process control parameters for extended operating times have been evaluated
(Kumar et al., 2008).
The first commercial venture on aseptically packaged sweet potato puree using this
microwave-assisted sterilization technology has been carried out by a new company in North
Carolina, USA. This development opens up a new market opportunity for the sweet potato
industry, and potentially increases the utilization of sweet potato purees as functional
ingredients in various food products.
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 125

Quality of Sweet Potato Purees

Color and Flavor: Discoloration of the peeled and cooked sweet potatoes can affect the
puree color. Enzymatic discoloration is characterized by a brown, dark gray or black color. It
occurs when polyphenol oxidase catalyzes the oxidative polymerization of phenolic acid
during peeling and size reduction of sweet potatoes. This type of discoloration can be
minimized or prevented by heat inactivation of the enzymes, lowering the pH with acidulants,
or using inhibitors such as sulfite and ascorbic acid (Walter and Wilson, 1992). The non-
enzymatic discoloration shows the gray, black or green color upon exposing the cooked sweet
potatoes to air. This ―after-cooking darkening‖ is caused by phenolics complexing with
metals especially ferrous iron. Sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP) which has a strong affinity
to metal ions is effective in preventing the non-enzymatic discoloration (Hoover, 1964).
SAPP at concentration of about 0.5% has been widely used in the blanching medium or added
directly to the material to enhance the color of sweet potato purees. Citric acid added to the
puree at 0.2% can preserve the bright orange color of the product (Bouwkamp, 1985). Among
the preservation methods, the puree color is greatly degraded by excessive heat treatment
during canning caused by the Maillard browning reaction between sugars and amino acids.
Frozen storage has minor color changes over 6 months at -17ºC (Collins et al., 1995). For
microwave processing and aseptic packaging, high color retention of purees from both
orange- and purple-fleshed sweet potatoes has been reported (Coronel et al., 2005; Smith et
al., 1982; Steed et al., 2008).
The flavor of purees, as in baked sweet potatoes, is dependent on cultivars, curing,
storage and cooking methods (Hamann et al., 1980; Wang and Kays, 2001). Starch hydrolysis
and maltose formation during cooking is important in the flavor quality of cooked sweet
potatoes (Koehler and Kays, 1991; Sun et al., 1994; Walter et al., 1975). Walter and Schwartz
(1993) reported that approximately 52 - 82% of starch in Jewel sweet potatoes was
hydrolyzed, depending on the heat treatment. Maltose is the predominant sugar in the purees
from various cultivars (Table 1) followed by sucrose, glucose, and fructose (Brinley et al.,
2008; Ridley et al., 2005). Wider ranges of these sugars and sweetness in cooked sweet
potatoes were reported by other investigators (Chattopadhyay et al., 2006; Kays et al., 2005;
Truong et al., 1986). Aside from the sugars, the release of bound compounds (e.g. from
glycosides) and a group of terpenoids such as linalool, geraniol and -copaene contribute to
the aroma of baked and microwaved sweet potatoes, but they were absent in the boiled
samples (Wang and Kays, 2001). Thirty volatile compounds have been identified in baked
sweet potatoes (Purcell et al., 1980). Several compounds such as 2, 3-pentanedione, 2-furyl
methyl ketone, 5-methyl-2-furaldehyde and linalool were correlated with the good sweet
potato flavor (Tiu et al., 1985).
Rheological Properties: The rheological behavior is an important property of purees
processed from fruits and vegetables and it has been studied by numerous researchers.
Krokida et al. (2001) compiled data of several fruit and vegetable products and listed values
for consistency coefficient and flow behavior index along with the corresponding ranges of
temperature and concentration. In the presence of starch, sweet potato purees are naturally
viscous and thicker than other processed purees from other commodities such as carrots and
tomatoes. Sweet potato purees display shear thinning behavior with a yield stress, as most of
fruit and vegetable purees.
126 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

Table 1. Sugar Content (% fresh weight) of the sweet potato purees

Cultivar Glucose Fructose Sucrose Maltose

Beauregard 2.2 1.8 3.3 7.2

Bon 99-447 0.7 0.5 2.2 7.2

Covington 1.5 1.1 3.7 6.1

FTA 94 0.3 0.2 1.1 3.8

Hernandez 2.8 2.3 3.0 7.4

NC 415 1.6 1.2 1.7 9.3

Norton 1.5 1.8 2.3 7.3

O‘Henry 1.9 1.7 1.7 7.6

Okinawa 0.5 0.3 1.3 3.7

Picadito 0.6 0.4 1.14 4.1

Porto Rico 1.3 1.1 3.3 8.8

Pur 01-192 0.3 0.2 1.1 3.6

Suwon 122 0.2 0.1 1.3 3.9


Source: Brinley et al., 2008.

In studying the relationship between rheological characteristics and mouthfeel of sweet


potato purees, Rao et al. (1975a) found sweet potatoes to exhibit non-Newtonian,
pseudoplastic behavior that fits the Herschel-Bulkley model. Yield stresses of the purees from
eight different cultivars with cream, yellow and orange flesh color in their studies ranged
from 230 to 663 dyne/cm2 (23 – 66.3 Pa) (Rao and Graham, 1982). Consistency coefficient
values ranged from 17.9 to 248.1 dyne-s/cm2 (1.79-24.8 Pa-s) and flow behavior index values
varied from 0.333 to 0.564. Apparent viscosity at 97.2 rpm in a coaxial cylinder viscometer
ranged from 534 to 2893 centipoise (0.534 – 2.89Pa-s) among the puree samples of the tested
cultivars over two months of root storage. Purple-fleshed sweet potato purees with solid
content adjusted to 18% as that of the orange-fleshed sweet potato purees also exhibited
pseudo-plastic behavior with the flow properties, apparent viscosity and yield stress within
these ranges (Steed and Truong, 2008). Both apparent viscosity and yield stress significantly
correlated with the mouthfeel attribute of sweet potato purees (Rao et al., , 1975b), and in
general they appear to decrease with length of root storage (Rao et al., 1975a). Purees from
cured roots were slightly, but not significantly, lower in apparent viscosity than those made
from uncured roots (Ice et al., 1980; Hamann et al., 1980). Analysis of viscometric properties
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 127

with the use of Bostwick consistometer and different types of rotational viscometers has been
used to assess the quality of sweet potato purees.
Apparent viscosity of sweet potato puree decreases with increasing shear rate and
temperature (Figure 2). Kyereme et al. (1999) studied the effect of temperature from 15ºC to
90ºC on apparent viscosity of sweet potato puree with a shear rate sweep of 0.001 to 921/s.
The flow behavior of sweet potato puree as affected by temperature was well represented by
either the Herschel-Bulkley or Modified Casson models. The models can adequately predict
the apparent viscosity of sweet potato puree at 50ºC but they did not perform well at higher
temperatures. Ahmed and Ramaswamy (2006) observed a deviation in rheological behavior
of sweet potato puree infant food at and above 65C that was possibly caused by
gelatinization and possible formation of amylase-lipid complex of starch as confirmed by two
distinct DSC (Differential Scanning Colorimeter) thermal transition peaks at 54ºC and
95.5ºC. Brinley et al. (2008) reported significant decrease in apparent viscosity of sweet
potato puree at 130ºC at which the puree was sterilized in the microwave-assisted aseptic
packaging.
Sweet potato purees are usually thickened with temperature decreases that may lead to a
difficulty in pumping during the processing operations but the phenomenon can be beneficial
in providing the desired textural properties in processed food products (Steed et al., 2008).
Amylose and amylopectin in the sweet potato puree form a gel network upon cooling. Aside
from the steady-shear viscometry described above, the small-amplitude oscillatory tests have
been used to characterize the viscoelastic behavior of sweet potato purees.

Figure 2. Apparent viscosity of orange-fleshed sweet potato puree cv. Beauregard at different
temperatures (Truong, unpublished data).

Fasina et al. (2003b) and Ahmed and Ramaswamy (2006) reported that purees exhibit gel
behavior illustrated by a larger storage modulus (G‘, the elastic component) than loss
128 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

modulus (G‖, the viscous component) through oscillatory rheology. The parallel slopes of G‘
and G‖ with G‘ greater than G‖ throughout the frequency range define the solid-like behavior
of a food material (Steffe, 1996). This gel network was further strengthened by the addition of
alginate and calcium salts to form a firmer puree (Fasina et al., 2003b; Truong et al., 1995).
The puree processing methods affect the viscoelastic properties and textural profiles of
restructured products made from sweet potato purees (Walter et al., 1999).
Nutritional Values: The nutrient content of sweet potato purees and pastes from varieties
with different flesh color is shown in Table 2 (Brinely et al., 2008). It should be noted that the
values of the paste samples (> 21% dry matter) would be lower since dilution needs to be
carried out for having flowable purees during processing. Sweet potato purees have low
protein and fat content, but they are high in calories, minerals such as potassium, phosphorus,
magnesium and calcium, and a relatively good source of dietary fiber, 2.0 – 3.2 g/100g fresh
weight basis (fwb) (Bovell-Benjamin, 2007; Woolfe, 1992; Yencho et al., 2008). The
glycemic index (GI) of steamed, baked or microwaved sweet potatoes were about 63-66, as
compared to 65-101 for potatoes cooked by these methods (Soh and Brand-Miller, 1999).

Table 2. Nutritional value (% fresh weight) of purees from various sweet potato
genotypes

Cultivar Dry matter Starch Total Sugar Protein Lipid Ash

Beauregard 19.5 2.3 14.5 0.4 0.1 0.7

Bon 99-447* 24.7 10.6 10.6 1.9 0.1 1.0

Covington 19.3 1.9 12.4 0.4 0.1 0.8

FTA 94* 33.1 10.2 5.4 0.7 0.2 1.1

Hernandez 23.3 3.83 15.4 0.5 0.1 1.0

NC 415* 30.0 12.0 13.8 0.5 0.1 0.9

Norton* 25.9 6.6 12.7 0.4 0.1 0.8

O‘Henry 20.6 2.7 12.9 0.4 0.1 0.8

Okinawa* 32.0 3.2 5.8 0.6 0.1 0.9

Picadito* 31.3 12.5 6.2 0.3 0.1 0.8

Porto Rico* 26.9 2.8 14.5 0.5 0.1 0.8

Pur 01-192* 32.5 13.2 5.3 0.4 0.2 1.0

Suwon 122* 34.4 11.3 5.5 0.6 0.2 1.0


*Dry matter should be adjusted to < 21% for flowable purees Source: Brinley et al., 2008.
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 129

Orange fleshed-sweet potato purees are rich in ß-carotene (Table 3). A wider range of β-
carotene content in cooked orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, 6.7 – 16.0 mg/100g fwb, has been
reported by different investigators (Huang et al., 1999; Namutebi et al., 2004; Bovell-
Benjamin, 2007). The sweet potato carotenoids exist in an all trans configuration which
exhibits the highest provitamin A activity among the carotenoids. van Jaarsveld et al. (2005)
and Tanumihardjo (2008) advocate the increased consumption of orange-fleshed sweet
potatoes as an effective approach to improve the vitamin A nutrition in the developing
countries. Epidemiological studies indicated the beneficial effects of high carotene diets in
reducing the risks of cancer, age-related macula degeneration and heart diseases (Kohlmeier
and Hasting, 1995; Pandey and Shukla, 2002; van Poppel and Goldbohm, 1995). Carotenoids
can be isomerized by heat, acid, air or light during puree processing and storage. When
exposed to heat, the molecule may transform to a cis configuration typically at the 9, 13, and
15 carbon positions. The cis form reduces pro-vitamin activity but color remains mostly
unaffected. Extremely high temperature processing will cause fragmentation products and
release of volatile compounds. Chandler and Schwartz (1988) studied the changes in ß-
carotene and its isomerization products as a result of blanching, canning, dehydrating, and
cooking.
The length and severity of the heat treatment increased ß-carotene loss and isomerization.
Blanching, lye peeling, and pureeing actually showed an increase in ß-carotene content but
this increase was attributed to enhanced extraction efficiency due to the heat treatment.
However, other common sweet potato processing treatments showed significant reductions in
ß -carotene content: steam injection – 8.0% loss, canning 19.7% loss, microwaving - 22.7%
loss, and baking - 31.4% loss (Chandler and Schwartz, 1988). Lessin et al. (1997) quantified
ß-carotene isomers after canning sweet potatoes. The total ß-carotene content increased by
22% from 256.5mg/g (db) in the fresh root to 312.3 mg/g (db) in the canned product which
was attributed to increased extraction efficiency.

Table 3. Phytonutrients in orange- and purple-fleshed sweet potatoes

Varieties Flesh color Dry matter -carotene Antho Total


(fwb) cyanins¹ phenolic²
(g/100g) (mg/100g)

Beauregard Orange 20.5 9.4 na 88.9

Covington Orange 20.3 9.1 3.8 58.4

Stokes Purple Dark purple 36.4* na 80.2 401.6

NC 415 Dark purple 29.0* na 69 652.5

Okinawa Light purple 30.0* na 21.1 458.3


*Dry matter needs to be adjusted to 18-20% for flowable purees; na = not analyzed.
¹mg cyanidin-3-glucoside/100g fw; ²mg chlorogenic acid/100g fw.
Sources: Truong et al. (2007); Steed and Truong, 2008; Yencho et al., 2008.
130 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

After canning however, some of the trans- form was transformed to 9-cis (25.3 mg/g),
13-cis (76.6mg/g), and 15-cis (19.4mg/g) forms while 191mg/g (db) remained in the trans
configuration. A loss of less than 15% carotene content was observed by microwave
sterilization and aseptic packaging of orange-fleshed sweet potato purees (Truong,
unpublished data). Thus, the carotene-rich sweet potato purees can be a functional food
ingredient which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases and vitamin A deficiency in
many parts of the world.
The cooked paste of the purple-fleshed sweet potatoes has attractive reddish-purple color
with high levels of anthocyanins and total phenolics (Table 3). The flowable purees with a
solid content of 18% made from this material had total phenolic and anthocyanin contents of
314 mg chlorogenic acid equivalent/100g fwb and 58 mg cyaniding-3-glucosdie
equivalent/100g fwb, respectively. The 2, 2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical
scavenging activity was 47 µmol trolox equivalent/f fwb and oxygen radical absorbance
capacity (ORAC) of 26 µmol trolox equivalent/f fwb (Steed and Truong, 2008). Therefore,
the purple-fleshed sweet potato purees have polyphenolic content and antioxidant activities in
a competitive level with other food commodities known to be a good source of antioxidants
such as black bean, red onion, black berries, cultivated blueberries, sweet cherries and
strawberries (Wu et al., 2006) 2006). Several clinical studies indicated that consumption of
purple-fleshed sweet potatoes may have potential health benefits against oxidative stress
associated with liver injury (Suda et al., 2008) and other chronic diseases (Suda et al., 2003).

Utilization of Sweet Potato Purees in Processed Foods

Sweet potato purees has been used as an ingredient in numerous food products, including
baby food, casseroles, puddings, pies, cakes, ice cream, yogurt, leather, bread, patties and
soups (Collins and Walter, 1992; Collins et al., 1990; Collins and Washam-Hutsell, 1986;
Hoover et al., 1983; Silva et al., 1988; Woolfe, 1992; Yasufumi and Shigeki, 2000). The most
successful commercial application of sweet potato puree is for baby food.
Recognizing the similarity in nutrient content of sweet potatoes and fruits, Truong (1987)
conceptualized a novel strategy on value-added processing of sweet potatoes into products
that have been traditionally produced from fruits. This novel approach was expanded to the
development of a process for producing sweet potato puree-based beverages with sensory
quality and nutrient content similar to fruit juices. Both orange- and purple-fleshed sweet
potatoes were utilized, and the beverages were produced either in a concentrate form for
reconstitution to a single strength of 100% sweet potato drinks, or in combination with other
fruit juices and flavorings (Truong and Fementira, 1989, 1990). Such development raised
interest among research institutions in several sweet potato producing countries including
India, Japan, Malaysia, and the United States (Payton et al., 1992; KNAES, 1996; Sankari et
al., 2002; Tan et al., 2004). Several patented processes on utilization of sweet potato purees in
fruit and vegetable beverages were developed in Japan and the United States (Gladney, 2005;
Payton et al., 1992), and currently there are several fruit and vegetable drinks with sweet
potato purees as an ingredient being commercialized in these countries. Other commercial
utilization of sweet potato puree includes jam and ketchup (Truong, 1994; Fawzia et al.,
1999). Restructured products from sweet potato puree with the use of gelling agents such as
carboxymethyl cellulose, hydroxymethyl cellulose and alginate-calcium system have also
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 131

been developed. These products, simulated-baked sweet potatoes and restructured French
fries have good sensory quality and textural properties (Truong and Walter, 1994; Truong et
al., 1995; Utomo et al., 2005). Recently, sweet potato purees have been used in developing
carotene-rich curd and fermented beverages with high antioxidant activity (Mohapatra et al.,
2007; Saigusa et al., 2005). With the recent commercial development of the microwave-
assisted processing and aseptic packaging of sweet potato purees (Coronel et al., 2005; Steed
et al., 2008), it is expected that more processed food products from the puree will be
developed. In the U. S., sweet potato puree has been used for dehydrating into flakes or
powder for various food applications that is described in the following section.

DEHYDRATED POWDER / FLOUR AS FUNCTIONAL INGREDIENT


Sweet potato roots can be processed into dehydrated forms such as dried chips and flour
for storage and uses in food preparations (Peters and Wheatley, 1997). The flour can add
natural sweetness, color, and flavor to processed food products. It can also serve as a source
of energy and nutrients and minerals (Table 4), and contributes to the daily nutrient needs for
β-carotene, thiamin, iron, vitamin C, and protein. Sweet potato flour provides 14% - 28% of
the dietary reference intake (DRI) for magnesium and 20 - 39% for potassium (van Hal,
2000). For individuals diagnosed with celiac disease or with allergies to the gluten in wheat,
sweet potato flour can serve as an alternative.
Food allergies have become a public health issue in many countries (Maleiki, 2001).
About 5% of the population has serious allergies to some foods, including the gluten in wheat
and other cereals including rye, barley, triticale, and oats, (Mannie, 1999, Caperuto et al.,
2000). In addition, the home production of a simple traditional processed sweet potato foods,
as practiced by women and children in tropical countries could increase family income
(Alcobar and Parrilla, 1987). Thus, sweet potato flour production for human feeding will aid
in promoting year-round consumption, decreasing losses of food, increasing the economic
value of the crop besides increasing the efficiency of the food delivery system.

Table 4. Composition of sweet potato flour*

Parameter Native Spray Drum Hot air Dried


Flour Dried** Dried (Cabinet dried)
Protein 6.6 3.18 6.5 6.3
Fat 1.0 0.61 1.1 1.1
Total dietary fiber 17.5 5.85 17.6 17.2
Ash 1.0 2.7 1.3 1.1
Phosphorous 0.1 - 0.12 0.11
Total carbohydrates 73.0 85.23 73.8 73.6
*Dry weight basis.
**contains added dextrins. Source: Avula et al. 2006; Grabowski et al., 2008.

Sweet potato flour is used as a raw material for processing into other products. A variety
of products such as doughnuts, biscuits, muffin, cakes, cookies, extruded products, fried
chips, ice cream, porridge, brownies, pies, breakfast foods, and weaning foods have been
132 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

made from sweet potato flour (Greene et al., 2003; Lee, 2005; Toyokawa et al., 1989). In
India, dried sweet potatoes grounded into flour are used to supplement flours in bakery
products, chapathis, and puddings (Nair et al., 1987). Drying of root slices for sweet potato
flour production is also practiced to certain extents in many countries in Asia including
Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines and Vietnam. In Indonesia, fresh roots are
sometimes soaked in 8-10% salt solution, a practice which is reported to inhibit microbial
growth during drying (Winaro, 1982). In parts of East and West Africa, where there is a
pronounced dry season, roots are peeled, sliced, and sun dried for storage. In Peru, sweet
potato flour has been produced for decades, to prepare wheat/sweet potato bread (van Hal,
2000).

Processing of Sweet Potato Flour

For sweet potato roots to produce good quality flour, they should be low in total free
sugar content, reducing sugar content, ash content, amylase and polyphenol oxidase activities,
and have high dry matter with white color (Bovell-Benjamin, 2007; Collado et al., 1997).
Roots are still acceptable for processing if the reducing sugars do not exceed 2% on dry
weight basis (van Hal, 2000). Generally, controlling the quality of a product is based on the
acceptability of the users and food legislation (Bovell-Benjamin, 2007). Dehydration of sweet
potato involves washing, peeling, slicing/shredding, blanching, soaking, pressing, and drying
(van Hal, 2000; Woolfe, 1992). The losses during peeling and the ease of drying by slicing
and shredding have been reported. In traditional practice, the roots, which may or may not be
peeled and cooked but more often are directly cut up into pieces and spread out in the sun to
dry. They yield dried chips or slices which can be ground in a mortar to flour, and then
sieved. Mechanical driers such as cabinet, tunnel, drum, or spray drying as used in large
commercial enterprises are highly technical processes using large amounts of energy, which
add greatly to the cost of the final product (van Hal, 2000).
Solar Drying: Solar drying is the cheapest technique since it uses free and non-polluting
energy with a minimum investment in equipment. Drying of sweet potato root slices in direct
sunlight or in a solar dryer is frequently carried out. Both white and colored varieties have
been found suitable for solar drying. Drying times vary depending on climatic conditions
from 4 h to 5 days. Slices were dried until they reached a moisture content of about 6-10%
(Winaro, 1982). The use of dehumidified air increased the drying rates by about 6-8%.
However, solar drying has a number of disadvantages, such as poor control of energy input
and product quality, interruption of drying caused by cloud, rain, and nightfall and frequent
contamination of food by microorganisms, dust, and insects (Woolfe, 1992).
Mechanical Drying: Drying in a cabinet or tunnel dryer is based on the same principle as
solar drying, with the difference being that the air is heated by fuel. In this type of dryer, the
drying temperature, drying time and air velocity, and hence total dehydration conditions could
be controlled. Slices/dices are also subjected to blanching to inactivate the enzyme
responsible for browning reactions and soaked in solution containing sulphur dioxide to
inhibit enzymatic and non enzymatic reactions for improving color and retaining quality
during storage. Sweet potato slices are exposed to drying temperatures between 50°C - 80°C
for 4 - 12 h (Avula et al., 2006; Collado et al.,. 1997; Hathorne et al.,. 2008). Special batch
type cabinet dryers for drying sweet potato slices on small and industrial scales were also
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 133

developed (Eusebio et al., 1996; Truong et al., 1990). Air velocity, slice thickness, and air-
dry bulb temperature were the main variables that affected drying rates of sweet potato slices
(Diamante and Munro, 1991). The modified Page equation was found to be the best
description for the drying curves of sweet potato slices dehydrated to a moisture content of
10%. Antonio et al. (2008) studied the influence of osmotic dehydration and high temperature
short time drying process on dried sweet potato and found that 150°C for 10 min and 160 °C
for 22 min were the best drying conditions for drying of sweet potato slices subjected to
osmotic treatment and no osmotic treatment, respectively.
Drum drying is also used for dehydration of sweet potato puree to produce flakes /
powder. Walter et al (1983) and Valdez et al. (2001) dried the cooked and comminuted sweet
potatoes in a double drum drier heated with steam at 80 psi. The flakes were milled into <60
mesh particles and stored under nitrogen at -20°C. Drum dried sweet potato flakes were
prepared by Manlan et al. (1985), after treating the sweet potato puree with amylase enzyme
to reduce viscosity. Avula et al. (2006) prepared drum dried flour by subjecting sweet potato
mash to a double drum drier of 60 cm width and 35 cm diameter. The speed of the drum was
maintained at 3 rpm with a clearance of 0.3 mm and at a steam pressure of 6 kg/cm2. The
sheets of dried sweet potato were collected, crushed and milled in a hammer mill provided
with a 500 µm sieve. Fukazawa and Yakushido (1999) reported that drum-dried the sweet
potato mash at 80ºC in the first half of the drying cycle and at 55 ºC to 60ºC in the later part
of drying produced flour with good orange and purple color.
Spray drying of sweet potato puree of 18.2% solids was investigated by Grabowski et al.
(2006). The puree was subjected to pre-treatment with α-amylase at 50C - 60C to reduce
viscosity and maltodextrin addition to aid in spray drying. Maltodextrin (10-20%) facilitates
product recovery by raising the glass transition temperature of the product, thereby reducing
stickiness and partially encapsulating the material. The puree was spray dried using a dryer
equipped with a 2-fluid nozzle for atomization and a mixed-flow air-product pattern. The pre-
drying treatments and drying temperature impacted the final characteristics and functionality
of the spray-dried sweet potato powders. It was demonstrated that good quality sweet potato
powder can be produced by spray drying with potential applications in food and nutraceutical
products.
Modified Flours: The technology in modifying starch has also been applied in developing
modified sweet potato flours (Avula et al., 2007a).The most important reaction in the
chemical modification of food starches is the introduction of substituent groups (Kim et al.,
1996). These chemical modifications are of two types, monofunctional and di - or
polyfunctional. Monofunctional reagents react with one or more hydroxyl groups per sugar
unit to alter the polarity of the unit, sometimes making it ionic, and markedly influence the
rheological properties of the starch. Monofunctional reagents most often used for food starch
are acetic anhydride and propylene oxide. The former reacts to produce starch acetate (Moore
et al., 1984). The physicochemical properties of acetylated starches depend on their chemical
structures, degree of substitution (DS) and acetyl group distributions (Gonzalez and Perez,
2002; Lawal, 2004; Singh et al., 2004). Acetylated sweet potato flour was prepared by
treating the native flour with acetic anhydride (Avula et al., 2007a). The native flour
(prepared by drying the sweet potato slices at 40 °C and milled into flour and sieved) was
mixed with solid NaHCO3 and wetted with distilled water, followed by addition of acetic
anhydride. The mixture was allowed to react for 2 h at 40 °C, and later was washed
thoroughly with aqueous alcohol (80%) and dried at 40 °C overnight.
134 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

During in vitro alpha amylolysis of different starch granules, the enzyme attack is rather
restricted and is usually from outside inwards, i.e. exocorrosion (Hayashida et al., 1989). On
the other hand, in vivo the granules are subjected to cumulative actions of salivary amylase,
dilute acid (by gastric juices) and pancreatic α- amylase and intestinal microflora and as a
result the granules are better digested. The granule degradation was mostly confined to pitting
and surface erosion all over. Some researchers have shown ‗onion-type‘ layering of the
granules (Tharanathan, 1995). To develop enzyme modified flour, the native flour was
subjected to glucoamylase action. The reaction mixture containing native sweet potato flour
and the glucoamylase enzyme was incubated at 60 °C for 120 min. It was centrifuged and the
sediment was washed with alcohol repeatedly and dried (Avula et al., 2007a).

Storage Stability of Sweet Potato Flour

For prolonged storage of sweet potato flour, the packaging material must be impermeable
to vapor and gas, resist tearing, protect against contamination from the environment, and be
easy to handle (Furuta et al., 1998; van Hal, 2000). Orbase and Autos (1996) showed the
advantage of double packaging (polyethylene/muslin cloth) to prevent lumpiness and loss of
color of flour stored in polyethylene and polypropylene bags for 5 - 7 months. Auto-oxidation
of carotenoids may take place during storage, leading to loss of color and nutritional value.
The stability of β-carotene proved to be strongly and adversely affected by storage
temperature and light (Woolfe, 1992). The microbial count of flour stored in different
packaging materials did not change over time and was below the tolerable limit (Tardif-
Douglin et al., 1993). Out of the four equilibrium sorption models that were evaluated, the
Hasley equation gave the best fit to the sorption data. When Hasley equation was used to
estimate the thermodynamic functions of sweet potato, it was found that the heat of
vaporization and the differential entropy decreased with moisture in an exponential fashion
(Millan et al., 2001).

Nutritional Quality of Processed Flour

Nutritional Value: Changes in the nutritional value of the sweet potato roots during
processing were found to occur due to peeling, soaking, pre-cooking, and drying steps. Flours
from peeled and unpeeled roots were found to be different in composition and the flour from
the latter was higher in ash and crude fiber. Shrinkage of the slices and decrease of yield were
observed during soaking due to plasmolysis. Reduction in solubles, total sugar, starch,
amylase, ash content was also observed. Discoloration of sweet potato slices/shreds resulting
in low quality brown flour was observed due to the action of oxidase enzymes. Soaking in 2%
citric acid solution resulted in final dehydrated product with a red-yellowish tint due to the
caramelization of sugars accelerated by the citric acid (Hamed et al., 1973; Widowati and
Damardjati, 1992).
Martin (1984) found that the flours made from microwave baked sweet potatoes had the
amount of starch varied from 40-60%, which was much less than the flours from uncooked
sweet potatoes (69-85%). The levels of non-reducing sugars and of protein were unaffected,
while the levels of reducing sugars were much higher in flours from microwave-baked sweet
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 135

potatoes. Lowest reduction of total protein, lysine, and methionine during dehydration by
solar drying and cabinet drying was observed, with moderate changes at temperatures not
exceeding 80°C. Sulphiting treatment given to prevent enzyme darkening of the sweet potato
flesh during dehydration can reduce thiamin content of drum dried sweet potato flakes
(Hamed et al., 1973; Moy and Chi, 1982). Drum drying process retained more ascorbic acid
than sun drying as the latter process exposes ascorbic acid to heat degradation and oxidation.
Although the content of most of the amino acids was almost the same for oven and drum-
dried flours, the lysine content of the drum-dried flour was substantially lower and resulted in
its lower protein efficiency ratio (PER) compared to oven-dried flour. The high temperature
(120-140°C) applied during drum drying caused a reaction of the ε-amino group of lysine
with reducing groups of carbohydrates which caused the lysine to be destroyed irreversibly
and as such to become nutritionally unavailable (Walter et al., 1983). Sammy (1970)
compared the chemical composition of spray-dried and cabinet-dried sweet potato flours and
found that the products were similar except for the higher moisture content of the cabinet
dried flour and the higher sugar (both reducing and total sugars) content of the spray dried
flour.
Lipid oxidation of drum dried sweet potato flakes has been a common problem resulting
in reduction of lipid content (Walter and Purcell, 1974). Similarly, spray drying exposes more
surface area of sweet potato powders, thus allowing oxidation and degradation to take place
(Grabowski et al., 2008).A 50-70% decrease in vitamin C was reported for sweet potato
flakes, drum dried at high temperatures (Arthur and McLemore, 1955). Spray drying of sweet
potato purees significantly decreased total amount of β-carotene and caused isomerization of
the molecule which reduces pro-vitamin A activity as described in the previous section.
Isomerization of β-carotene was also found to occur during dehydration in a cabinet drier,
drum-dryer, microwaving, or baking, with the quantity of isomer formed related to the
severity and length of the heat treatment (Kidmose et al., 2007; Woolfe, 1992). Extruded
sweet potato flour from orange-fleshed sweet potatoes showed the lowest losses in total
carotenoids as compared to cream-fleshed cultivars (Fonseca et al., 2008).
In-vitro Digestibility and Antioxidant Activity: Processed flours which have undergone
cooking and drying treatments were more digestible than enzyme modified and acetylated
flours (Figure 3). Hot air dried flour was found to be more digestible than drum dried flour,
indicating less compactness of the particles in the former. The temperature during hot air
drying was more conducive for amylolytic hydrolysis of starch by the endogenous amylases
present in sweet potato, which also led to reduction in pasting viscosities (Avula et al., 2006).
The higher digestibility of processed flours may be due to comparatively less branching and
low molecular weight of the starch constituent fractions (Madhusudhan et al., 1996). The
disrupted state of starch granules of drum dried and hot air dried flours would have helped in
better penetration of enzyme to facilitate digestion. The degree of amylolysis is dependent on
the chemical nature of starch, type of processing, presence of inhibitors, and physical
distribution of starch in relation to other dietary components such as cellulose, hemicellulose,
and lignin (Rao, 1969; Hale, 1973).
The changes in morphological features have also facilitated better digestibility in enzyme
modified flour. Starch digestibility is significantly improved by cooking with either dry or
moist heat, or fine grinding (Dreher et al. 1981; Leach and Schoch, 1961). Although cooking
improved digestibility, a wide variation in digestibility still remained, depending on the
cooking conditions.
136 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

Figure 3. Digestibility of sweet potato flours (adapted from Avula et al. 2006, 2007a).

The effect of degree of substitution (DS) on digestibility was inverse and exponential.
Acetylated starches sharply reduced the digestibility of gelatinized starch by pancreatic
amylase (Wootton and Chaudhry, 1979). Determination and establishment of differences and
changes in starch digestibility in variously treated flours is essential in recommending suitable
utilization of these flours. Poorly digested flours may also function like dietary fiber and have
therapeutic benefits such as, lowering blood glucose in diabetes, or to aid in weight control
(Skrabanja et al., 1999). Restricted digestion of starch is critical for infants and senior citizens
having reduced digestive capacity and people with physical exhaustion, emotional stress or
medical disorders leading to disturbed digestion (Niba, 2003).
Antioxidant activity of sweet potato flour varies significantly with the flesh color of the
roots. The purple-fleshed genotypes have high levels of polyphenolics and antioxidant
activity (Teow et al., 2007). Steam blanching increased the reducing power and scavenging
DPPH radical effect of sweet potato flours. Contents of total phenols, flavonoids, and
anthocyanins in sweet potato flours were positively correlated with the reducing power and
scavenging DPPH radical effects (Huang et al., 2006). Four different polyphenolic
compounds, namely 4, 5-di-O-caffeoyldaucic acid, 4-O-caffeoylquinic acid, 3,5-di-O-
caffeoylquinic acid, and 1,3-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid were identified in freeze dried sweet
potato flour. Antioxidant activity of daucic acid derivative was found to be very high (Dini et
al., 2006). Sweet potato foliage is rich in total phenolic content and antioxidant activity which
are about 8- to 18-fold greater than the roots (Truong et al., 2007). Thus, the dry powder of
sweet potato leaves can be a good source of antioxidants and its applications to enhance the
functional properties of juices, paste, ice cream and other food ingredients have been initiated
(Islam, 2006).
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 137

Physical Properties and Functionality of Flour

Sweet potato flour being rich in starch, exhibits unique functional properties which will
find its suitability in specific product formulations. However, the properties of sweet potato
flour may be influenced by the method of preparation, severity of heat treatment, type of
modification, the presence of other components such as fiber, protein, etc. The changes in
structural characteristics of starches occurring as a result of modification / treatment may also
be responsible for bringing specific functionality to the sweet potato flour. Hence, the limited
data available for functional properties of sweet potato flour are different from those of starch
since extra constituents available in flour (non- starch polysaccharides, protein, fat, etc),
restrict access of water into the starch granules (van Hal, 2000). For example, RVA visco-
amylograph pasting parameters of flour, were not correlated to the RVA pasting parameters
of the purified starch (Jangchud et al., 2003).
Particle size and morphology: Pre-treating the sweet potato puree with α-amylase and the
addition of maltodextrin prior to spray-drying had significant effects on particle size and bulk
density of the powder. Typically, as particle size decreases the bulk density will increase, but
this was not apparent in spray-dried sweet potato powder. Bulk density was observed to
decrease with amylase treatment (Grabowski et al., 2006). This decrease in bulk density did
not match the decreasing particle size, and the phenomenon can be explained by the
agglomeration of sticky particles during the drying (Goula et al., 2004). The particle size of
the sweet potato powder from rotary atomizer was found to be less than half the size of the
particle size of the powder made on dryers with 2-fluid nozzle (Grabowski et al., 2006).
When observing particle morphology, some of the granules of enzyme-treated spray dried
powder appeared to aggregate as compared to flours without α-amylase addition (Figure 4).
These agglomerates take up a larger volume and, thus, would contribute to a smaller bulk
density. These aggregated particles may also aid in the slightly increased water solubility of
the powders treated with amylase.
Morphological features of starch granules of drum dried and hot air-dried flours
resembled each other, and the entire granule population seems to be clustered to form an
aggregated mass comprising of several small granules, more so during drum drying (Figure
5). Starch granules of native flour were round, spherical of 4-26 µm, while the size of
agglomerated granules ranged from 70-220 μm in drum dried, and 40-130 μm in hot air-dried
flours (Avula et al., 2006). Chen et al. (2003) reported that the noodle quality was determined
by the source and size of the starch granules. Further, the disruption of the granules indicated
the complete gelatinization of starch in both drying processes resulting better hydration of the
processed flours (Avula et al., 2006). The granular characteristics of starch were partially
disappeared in acetylated and enzyme modified flours. Acetylated flour showed indentation
as a result of modification, and also the granules appeared as clusters (Figure 5D). The fusion
of starch granules in acetylated flour could be attributed to the introduction of hydrophilic
groups to the starch molecules, which resulted in increased hydrogen bonding (Singh et al.,
2004). Exo-corrosion of enzyme-modified flour (Figure 5E) was noticed, and the penetration
of glucoamylase was imminent by the appearance of serrated surfaces and breakage of outer
layers in some granules (Avula et al., 2007b).
Rheological Properties: The material composition and conditions under which products
are spray-dried can have an effect on the physical properties of the resulting powder. Though
138 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

the solids concentration in the puree and reconstituted solutions was the same (18%), the
puree viscosity was much greater than the powder viscosity (Figure 6).

a b

Figure 4. Scanning electron microscope image of spray dried powder. (a). Without amylase treatment,
(b) With amylase treatment (adapted from Grabowski et al. 2006).

B C

D E

Figure 5. Scanning electron micrographs of starch granules in sweet potato flours. A. Native, B. Drum
dried, C. Hot Air Dried, D. Acetylated and E. Enzyme modified (adapted from Avula et al., 2006;
Avula unpublished data).
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 139

Figure 6. Viscosity of sweet potato puree and reconstituted spray dried powders from 1 to 250 s-1
(adapted from Grabowski et al., 2008).

Starch molecules in the powder are degraded during processing, thus losing the ability to
swell and decreasing viscosity (Grabowski et al.., 2008). With more of the spray dried
powder solubilized into solution, there was less sweet potato solids to create resistance to
flow in the mixture.
In order to spray-dry a sticky material like sweet potato puree, maltodextrin is used as
carrier to facilitate the drying process by increasing the glass transition temperature of the
product. In addition to encapsulation of the sweet potato material by maltodextrin, the
interactions of maltodextrin with other polysaccharides present in the powders do not allow
the polysaccharides to fully extend in solution, thus decreasing solution viscosity (Grabowski
et al., 2006; Vega et al., 2005). Though the sweet potato puree exhibited pseudoplastic
behavior which was best fit to Herschel–Bulkley model with distinct yield stress, the flow
curve of the reconstituted puree (18% solid ) from the spray dried powder did not have a yield
stress and fit the power law model. Powder solutions had much lower consistency coefficient
values and higher flow behavior index values than the sweet potato puree. The flow behavior
index of less than 1 further demonstrates the pseudo plastic behavior of spray dried sweet
potato powder (Grabowski et al.., 2008). When spray dried sweet potato powder was
subjected to a temperature ramp under a shear rate of 10/ s, it was found that the viscosity of
the suspension decreased As the temperature was increased from 25 to 55 °C, the apparent
viscosity increased from 0.042 to 0.070 Pa s as temperature was ramped from 25 to 95 °C,
and then increased upon cooling from 95 to 25 °C. Rheologically, the reconstituted sweet
potato slurries behaved similarly to pre-gelatinized starch solutions. Thus, spray dried sweet
potato powders have a potential to enhance food systems as a thickener with natural colors.
Studies on steady and dynamic shear rheological properties of the hot-air dried sweet
potato flour dispersions indicated that sweet potato flour slurries at 25 °C showed a shear-
140 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

thinning fluid exhibiting a yield stress. The magnitudes of Casson yield stress, consistency
index and apparent viscosity increased with an increase in concentration. Within the
temperature range of 25-70 °C, the apparent viscosity obeyed the Arrhenius temperature
relationship with high determination coefficient with activation energies ranging 0.015-0.024
KJ/mol. Both power law and exponential type models were used to establish the relationship
between concentration and apparent viscosity. Magnitudes of G ' and G '' increased with an
increase in flour concentration. G ' values were higher than G '' over the most of the frequency
range, and both parameters were frequency dependent (Chun and Yoo, 2006). The porridge
made from blends containing fermented sweet potato was about seven times less viscous than
the porridge from the traditional sorghum complementary food (Nnam, 2001). Shih et al.
(2006) investigated the rheological properties of rice-sweet potato flour mixes as a 100%
substitute of wheat flour in gluten-free pan cake. In contrast to the porridge blends reported
by Nnam (2001), addition of sweet potato flour (10-40%) enhanced the hydration capacity of
the rice batter and resulted in increased batter viscosity, and was comparable with that of the
traditional wheat batters.
Paste Viscosities: Native sweet potato flour showed unrestricted swelling, exhibiting
maximum viscosity at a relatively shorter period of heating. In contrast, the suspensions of the
heat processed flour showed reduced viscosity indices (Figure 7). Reheating the slurries of
pre-gelatinized materials caused a decrease in paste viscosity leading to ‗thinning‘ of the
slurry. The hot air-dried flour paste showed relatively low viscosity compared to drum dried
material, though the severity of heat treatment was more in the latter (Avula et al., 2006). The
temperature during hot air drying was more conducive for amylolytic hydrolysis by
endogenous amylases and hence the breakdown of starch led to lower viscosity. Set back
viscosity of drum dried and hot air dried flours has notably decreased, compared to native
flour, validating thermal and enzymatic degradation of starch. A low set back value indicates
a non-cohesive paste, which has many industrial implications. Reduction in viscosity is
particularly important in the preparation of weaning and supplementary foods from starchy
raw materials (Muyonga et al., 2001).
Acetylated flour showed least paste viscosity showing restricted swelling of starch
granules, due to the presence of substituent functional groups. The viscosity values obtained
after isothermal holding at 95 °C (hot paste viscosity, HPV) were much lower than peak
viscosity (PV) values (Avula et al., 2007b). The tendency toward setback or gel formation
was minimized in acetylated flour due to the presence of functional groups that prevent starch
chains from association (Moorthy, 2002). The degree of substitution (DS) for a starch
derivative is defined as the number of hydroxyl groups substituted per D-glucopyranosyl
structural unit of the starch polymer. Since each D-glucose unit possesses three reactive
hydroxyl groups, the maximum possible DS value is 3. Therefore, the reactions to form
acetylated starches can be controlled with high accuracy by adjusting the molar ratio of the
reagent and catalyst in the reaction mixture, in order to obtain the desired DS value (Wang
and Wang, 2001).
The high pasting profile of the enzyme modified flour shows that the starch molecules
were strengthened as a result of modification and resisted breakdown of paste. The formation
of enzyme-starch complex would have imparted rigidity to enzyme modified flour resulting in
higher pasting viscosities. The peak viscosity of fermented flour was greater than that of
unfermented flour (Adeyami and Beckley, 1986). Leman et al. (2005) observed an increase in
cold paste viscosity (CPV) of starch treated with maltogenic amylase.
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 141

Figure 7. Viscoamylograms of sweet potato flours. 1. Native, 2. Drum dried, 3. Hot air dried, 4.
Acetylated, 5. Enzyme modified (adapted from Avula et al., 2007b; Avula unpublished data).

The thermal and mechanical stability and low retrogradation pattern shown by enzyme
modified flours are important characteristics useful for baked and frozen products. High paste
viscosities are desirable in flours used as thickeners (Weissenborn et al., 1994), whereas low
peak viscosities are desirable for high-calorie food formulations such as weaning and
specialty foods. The setback (CPV-HPV) or retrogradation value was lower in acetylated
flour compared to enzyme modified flour. A higher set back value is useful in products that
require a high viscosity and paste stability at low temperature (Oduro et al., 2000). Use of
enzyme modified flour is recommended for manufacture of low-fat-low sugar wafers and
other bakery products. Enzyme modified flour showed an improvement in the emulsifying
and oil absorption capacity (Taeuful et al., 1992).
Pasting properties of the white-fleshed sweet potato cultivar exhibited lower tendency for
retrogradation (Osundahunsi et al., 2003). Addition of sweet potato flour and fiber fractions
to white wheat flour reduced the pasting properties of the resulting gels by up to seven-folds
compared with the wheat flour gel (Mais and Brennan, 2008). The low mean peak viscosity
of different genotypes was explained by the endogenous amylase activity in sweet potato
142 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

flour. Indeed sweet potato flours with inhibited amylase activity by using AgNO3 showed
much higher peak viscosity (Collado and Corke, 1999). Varieties, amylase concentration and
flour particle size are all crucial factors determining the density and viscosity of the pastes
(Iwuoha and Nwakanma, 1998).
Thermal properties: Thermal properties of modified sweet potato flours, measured by
DSC, differed significantly. Endotherm peaks of native flour and its enthalpy appeared
between 68 – 78.5°C. The transition temperatures (To, Tp and Tc), and enthalpy (ΔH) of
different flours are summarized in Table 5. Higher gelatinization enthalpy of native flour was
due to the more stable granular structure and greater crystallinity (Ganga and Corke, 1999).
The differences in transition temperatures may be attributed to the differences in granular
structure, amylose content and gelatinization temperature between the starches (Moorthy,
2002).
A typical DSC (Differential Scanning Colorimeter) endotherm was observed for
gelatinization of native flour. However, drum-dried and hot-air dried flours did not show any
gelatinization endotherm when heated up to 100°C, which confirmed the changed nature of
starch granules as a result of processing. Gelatinization enthalpy depends on a number of
factors such as crystallinity and intermolecular bonding. Biladeris (1990) and Leszkowiat et
al. (1990) have suggested that higher transition temperatures indicate more stable amorphous
regions and lower degree of chain branching. Acetylated flour showed reduced gelatinization
temperature and ΔH, compared to native flour (Table 5). Gelatinization temperature of
enzyme modified flour has not changed much but the ΔH increased as a result of enzyme
treatment. The DSC curve indicates that the behavior of conjugate of starch and enzyme is
almost same as that of native flour excepting for a slight difference in peak and conclusion
temperatures. The crystallinity of starch granules in enzyme modified flour was comparable
with that of native granule even after enzyme modification. The increase in heat energy in
enzyme modified flour indicates that the granules are bound by protein (enzyme-starch
complex), that resulted in stronger association of the molecules (Avula et al., 2007b). Using a
viscograph, Iwe and Onuh (1992) reported a pasting temperature of 79°C when the degree of
starch gelatinization of sweet potato flour was 50%. The electrical conductivity of flour/starch
suspensions was found to increase upon gelatinization because of the release of ions from
starch granules. Hence, the electrical conductivity measurement could be used as an on-line
technique to monitor the whole process of starch gelatinization (Chaiwanichsiri et al., 2001).

Table 5. DSC Characteristics of sweet potato flours

Sweet potato flour T0 Tp Tc ΔH J/g


Native 68.0 71.8 78.5 10.6
Acetylated 55.9 63.2 67.3 1.7
Enzyme Modified 73.5 76.9 86.9 11.4
Source: Avula et al., 2007b.

Cooked sweet potatoes contain more than 22% sugar on a dry weight basis (Truong et al.,
1986). Food products containing substances with low molecular weights, such as sugars, have
very low glass transition temperatures (Tg), so these components can depress the Tg of the
entire system. If the temperature of the spray-dried particle is greater than 20 °C above the
glass transition temperature of that product, the particle will exhibit sticky behavior (Bhandari
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 143

and Howes, 1999). The glass transition temperature of sweet potato powder increased with
the addition of maltodextrin (Figure 8). Conversely, the glass transition temperature of the
powders was reduced as the amount of alpha-amylase allowed to act on the puree was
increased (Grabowski et al., 2006). This reduction was expected as the amylase breaks down
starch into lower molecular weight dextrins. Additionally, the amylase-treated powders also
had higher moisture content, and, thus, the additional water could lower the glass transition
temperature (Grabowski et al., 2008).
Solubility and Water Absorption: The instant properties of a powder involve its ability to
dissolve in water. Since most powdered foods are intended for rehydration, the ideal powder
would wet quickly and thoroughly, sink rather than float, and disperse / dissolve without
lumps (Hogekamp and Schubert, 2003). The solubility index of spray dried sweet potato
powder increased and its water-holding capacity reduced. The water solubility index of the
powder increased with increase in the amount of maltodextrin addition. Maltodextrin can
form outer layers on the drops and alter the surface stickiness of particles due to the
transformation into glassy state (Grabowski et al., 2006). The changes in surface stickiness
reduce particle-particle cohesion and particle-wall adhesion during spray drying, resulting in
less agglomerate formation and, therefore, lower water-holding capacity of the powders.
Drum dried flour showed higher solubility values whereas the acetylated and enzyme
modified flours showed the least values, though all the flours showed increasing values with
increase in temperature (Figure 9). The increase in solubility was highest at 96°C for drum
dried flour followed by hot air dried flour. The pre-gelatinized starch is expected to exhibit
high solubility in cold water than unmodified starch (Morrison, 1988).

Figure 8. DSC Thermograms showing showing glass transition temperature with increased levels of
maltodextrin (adapted from Grabowski et al. 2006).
144 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

50
% Solubility 40
Native
30
Hot Air
20
Dried
10 Drum
Dried
0 Acetylated
0 25 50 75 100 Enzyme
Temperature (°C) Modified

Figure 9. Solubility of sweet potato flours at different temperatures (adapted from Avula et al., 2006,
2007a).

The anamolies, if any, are probably due to starch retrogradation and extent of partial
disintegration during milling (Kaur et al., 2002). The solubility of acetylated flour, though
slightly increased with temperature, was found to be lower than that of native flour (Figure 9).
The substituent groups made the associative bonds stronger in addition to presumably the
formation of amylose - lipid complexes. Thus drum dried flour with better solubility even at
low temperatures becomes an ideal choice for product formulations (Avula et al., 2006).
Drum dried flour exhibited higher swelling power than hot air- dried, acetylated and
enzyme modified flours at 30°C - 96°C. The increase in swelling and solubility values of
differently treated sweet potato flours, therefore, can be attributed to a greater degree of
macromolecular disorganization and also to variations in the degradation of starch during
thermal treatments (Tan and Chinnaswamy, 1993).
Factors like amylose - amylopectin ratio, chain length and molecular weight distribution,
degree / length of branching and conformation determine the degree of swelling and solubility
(Rickard et al., 1991). High amylose content and presence of stronger or a higher number of
intermolecular bonds can reduce swelling (Delpeuch, 1965). Formation of lipid-starch
complex can also offer low swelling volume (Swinkles, 1985) as also the presence of non-
starch carbohydrates and other constituents in the starch (Eliasson and Gudmundsson, 1996;
Leach et al., 1959).
Enzyme modified flours showed reduced swelling power compared to native flour (Avula
et al., 2007a). Thus, highly associated starch granules with an extensive and strongly bonded
micellar structures display relatively great resistance towards swelling (Mariam et al., 1996).
The presence of protein (enzyme-starch complex), imparts rigidity and contributes to the
limited leaching of starch (Colonna et al., 1979). The starchy flour extracted from fermented
tubers also exhibited the same trend (Moorthy et al., 1993). Absorption properties of extruded
sweet potato flour are considered to be fairly good and quite stable (Iwe and Onuh, 1992).
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 145

The swelling volume of the sweet potato flour from different genotypes in distilled water had
a mean of 15.7 ml/g, ranging from 11.8 ml/g to 18.8 ml/g (Collado and Corke, 1999). The
difference in morphological structure of granules may also be responsible for the differences
in swelling power and solubility (Adebowale et al., 2002).
Sediment volume of processed starchy products is an index of starch gelatinization, and
thus it provides a clear distinction between various precooked products. Drum dried flour
exhibited higher sediment volume than enzyme modified and acetylated flours (Table 6),
indicating a high degree of gelatinization in drum dried flour, followed by hot air dried flour
(Avula et al., 2007b). The consistency of a cold flour paste in 0.2 N KOH is inversely
correlated with viscoamylograph cold paste viscosity. Gel mobility is related to the degree of
starch gelatinization, unaffected by starch reassociation, and hence could be a good test for
the extent of gelatinization (Unnikrishnan and Bhattacharya, 1988). Drum dried flour showed
significantly higher gel consistency followed by hot air dried flour compared to enzyme
modified and acetylated flours (Table 6). The values of gel consistency of sweet potato flours
were correlated with their swelling and solubility patterns. Excepting acetylated flour, all
other treated flours were also correlated with their cold paste viscosities (Avula et al., 2007a;
Avula, unpublished data).

Table 6. Sediment Volume and Gel Consistency of sweet potato flours

Flour Sediment Volume (ml) Gel Consistency (mm)


Native 10.0 40.0
Drum dried 37.4 274.0
Hot air dried 16.6 156.0
Acetylated 9.0 25.0
Enzyme Modified 9.0 20.0
Source: Avula et al. (2006; 2007b).

PRODUCT APPLICATIONS
Many studies have reported the feasibility of using sweet potato flour as an alternative to
wheat, especially in bakery products (Singh et al., 2008). Commercial bakeries in Peru
produced widely accepted bread supplemented with up to 30% sweet potato (Huaman, 1992;
Palomar et al., 1981). Substitution levels as high as 65% sweet potato flour has resulted in
bread with acceptable loaf volumes, flavor and texture as that of bread made of wheat flour
(Greene et al., 2003; Green and Bovell-Benjamin, 2004).
Bovell-Benjamin (2007) reviewed the potential utilization of sweet potato in the Ugandan
and Kenyan Food systems. Nungo et al. (2000) evaluated the feasibility of several products
that included mashenye, mandazi, and chapathi , which were selected as marketable products.
In Mali, West Africa, the dehydrated sweet potatoes are usually rehydrated and added to
sauce with other condiments and eaten with a stiff cereal porridge or rice (Scheuring et al.,
1996). Sweet potato is processed into two local products called Michembe (the roots are
withered, cut into slices, and dried) and Matobolwa (dried product made from boiled and
sliced roots) in Tanzania. These products can have a shelf-life of 5-8 months. Other products
that have been prepared in Tanzania include cakes, chapathis, donuts, kaimati, and buns
146 Van-Den Truong and Ramesh Y. Avula

(Gichuki et al., 2005). Other potential sweet potato products include bread, buns, noodles,
pancake mixes, chips (Bovell-Benjamin, 2007; Salmah and Zaidah, 2005). The utilization of
sweet potato as a main ingredient in making delicious cakes or local desserts is quite popular
in Malaysia, and more than 32 sweet potatoes based traditional cakes and desserts are
available in the Malaysian market (Zainun and Zahara, 2005). A ready to use flour mix using
sweet potato flour to prepare Kuih Kacau Keldek was also developed and found acceptable.
An extensive sweet potato recipe list including dishes from China, Ghana, Guyana, India,
Japan, and the United States is documented by Hill et al. (1992).
In the case of flat bread with less volume (chapathis, poories, buns), high levels of wheat
flour substitution have been used successfully (Greene et al. 2003, Hagenimana et al., 1999a;
Green and Bovell-Benjamin, 2004). For the salted western type of bread, sweet potato flour
has been found to have a negative effect on loaf volume, flavor, color, and texture (Amano.
1996; Greene et al., 2003; Roa et al., 1996). Bread containing 50% sweet potato flour with
high-gluten dough enhancers had the highest loaf volumes Hathorn et al. (2008). Golden
bread made from fresh roots of medium-intensity orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties is a
good source of ß-carotene and is economically viable when the price ratio of wheat flour to
raw orange-fleshed sweet potato root is at least 1.5 (Low and van Jaarsveld, 2008).
Extruded ready-to-eat breakfast cereal containing 75-100% sweet potato flour are
promising products to be included in human diets (Dansby and Bovell-Benjamin, 2003a;
2003b). Fonseca et al. (2008) and Zhang (1998) reported optimal extrusion conditions for β-
carotene retention in extruded sweet potato flour and sweet potato / peanut blends. Sweet
potato flour from Jalomas and Telong varieties have good potential as raw material for the
production of extruded snack food and RTE( ready- to- eat) breakfast food (Lee, 2005). The
single screw extruder was used in these studies, and the effect of screw speed, feeder flow
rate and moisture content on the extrudate quality were investigated in these studies. The
severe heat treatment received by sweet potato extrudates rendered them applicable in soup
bases, flour mixes and breakfast foods (Iwe, 2000; Iwe et al., 2001a, b, c; Iwe and Ngoddy,
1998). Gluten-free pan-cakes, mandazis and other processed products showed increase in β-
carotene content on incorporation of sweet potato flour (Hagenimana et al., 1999b; Hathorne
et al., 2008; Limmongreungrat and Huang, 2007; Oyunga-Obugi et al., 2005; Shih et al.,
2006).
Conversion of drum dried sweet potato flour to ethanol was studied by Reddy and
Basappa (1997). A wine like product containing ethanol up to 8.6% (w/v), with desirable
aroma and color was developed by treating drum dried flour with pectinase, and culture
filtrate (α-amylase and glucoamylase) of Endomycopsis fibuligera. The inoculated flour was
fermented for 3 days.
Lactobacillus plantarum MTCC 1407 was used for direct fermentation of sweet potato
flour to lactic acid under semi- solid fermentation (Panda and Ray, 2008). Pasta made from
alkaline-treated sweet potato flour had the lowest cooking loss with the highest firmness.
Cooking losses increased as levels of sweet potato flour decreased (Limmongreungrat and
Huang, 2007).
The color parameters were highly correlated with the color of dough sheets for white-
salted and yellow-alkaline noodles made from wheat and sweet potato composite flour
(Collado et al., 1997; Oyunga-Obugi et al. 2005). Vegetarian products such as pan cakes and
tortillas, made with sweet potato were developed for use in nutritious meals for future space
explorers. Because of their consumer acceptability, these products were recommended to
Sweet Potato Purees and Powders 147

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)‘s Advanced Life Support Program
for inclusion in a vegetarian menu plan designed for Lunar / Mars space missions (Wilson et
al., 1998). Sweet potato flour has also been incorporated in cocoa drink, rice-based beverage
and instant weaning food (Espinola et al., 1998; Suh et al., 2003; Truong, 1992).

CONCLUSION
Sweet potato purees and powders can be used as thickening and gelling agents to impart
desired textural properties, and enhance the nutritional values, antioxidant activity as well as
natural color (e.g. orange and purple) of numerous food products. Furthermore, these
ingredients from sweet potatoes can be used as alternatives to wheat products for individuals
diagnosed with celiac disease and incorporated in low glycemic index foods for diabetics.
Processing technologies for producing sweet potato purees and powders at small and large
scale operations have been developed in different countries. For purees, the new development
in aseptic processing using continuous flow microwave heating provides a great opportunity
for the sweet potato industry in delivering the nutrient-rich and shelf-stable purees to food
processors, institutional food services as well as emergency food relieve organizations around
the world. With regard to the dehydrated forms, selection of sweet potato cultivars with high
levels of dry matter and phytonutrients should go hand in hand and by adopting technological
improvements to reduce processing cost. Aiming at specific functionality, nutrient retention
and product storability need to be considered in order to provide competitiveness of these
ingredients in the food processing sectors. With growing demand for convenient and healthy
foods, sweet potato purees and dehydrated forms have good potential to be used as functional
ingredients in processed foods.

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Chapter 6

BIO-PROCESSING OF SWEET POTATO INTO FOOD,


FEED AND BIO-ETHANOL

Ramesh C. Ray1, Samir K. Naskar1 and Keith I. Tomlins2


1
Regional Centre, Central Tuber Crops Research Institute,
Bhubaneswar 751 019, India
2
Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Central Avenue,
Chatham maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, UK

ABSTRACT
Sweet potatoes are mostly consumed as fresh vegetable or processed into starch and
starch based food products such as noodles, vermicelli, macaroni, etc. Bioprocessing
(fermentation) of sweet potato offers novel opportunities to commercialize this crop by
developing a number of functional foods and beverages such as sour starch, lacto-pickle,
lacto-juice, soy sauce, acidophilus milk, sweet potato curd and yoghurt, and alcoholic
drinks through either solid state or submerged fermentation. Sochu, traditional Japanese
distilled liquor with an alcohol content of nearly 25% is made from rice or barley as well
as sweet potato. The sweet potato bagassae (residue after starch extraction) can be
enriched with microbial protein (single cell protein) via solid state fermentation that can
serve as protein – rich feed for poultry and ruminants. Sweet potato tops, especially
leaves are preserved as hay (dehydration) or silage. Sweet potato flour and bagassae are
used as substrates for production of microbial enzymes, organic acids, monosodium
glutamate, chitosan, etc. In the current global search for alternative fuel for gasoline from
renewable (plant) sources, sweet potato is a promising candidate for production of bio-
ethanol.

ABBREVIATIONS
CFU colony forming units;
DEAE Diethylaminoethyl;


Corresponding author: Tel/Fax: 91-674-2470528; E-mail: E-mail: rc_ray@rediffmail.com
164 Ramesh C. Ray, Samir K. Naskar and Keith I. Tomlins

HPLC high performance liquid chromatography;


LAB lactic acid bacteria;
MSG monosodium glutamate;
NMR nuclear magnetic resonance;
MS mass spectroscopy;
SCP single cell protein;
SSF solid substrate (state) fermentation;
SSB solid state bioprocessing;
SmF submerged fermentation

INTRODUCTION
Sweet potatoes are mostly consumed as fresh vegetables or they are processed into starch
and fermented products that include mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), citric acid, soy sauce,
vinegars, ‗sochu‖ (an alcoholic [20-40%, v/v] drink made in Japan and Korea) and bio-
ethanol. Besides sweet potato roots, the vines and wastes are fermented into feed for poultry
and ruminants in many Asian countries; for example China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
However, the overall demand of sweet potato as a crop has been gradually declining over the
last few years, as well as the areas under its production (Ray and Ravi, 2005) with exception
of Papua New Guinea (Ramakrishna, 2006) and some African countries (Low and Jaarsveld,
2006).
In order to sustain sweet potato in the cropping system and make it a cash rich crop,
efforts are to be made to increase its industrial applications. Extraction of starch and
production of starch-based commodities such as noodles, vermicelli, etc are one such
direction. In recent years, several sweet potato varieties have been released that are rich in
poly-phenols and anti-oxidant pigments (β- carotene, lutein and anthocyanins) (Yoshimoto,
Chapter 3 in this book). These varieties have the advantage in that they can be processed for
the production of functional foods, food additives and beverages (Ray and Sivakumar, 2009).
Bioprocessing (fermentation) is a novel way to develop such functional foods, food additives
and protein-rich feeds from sweet potato. Also, production of bio-ethanol from sweet potato
is another promising opportunity in the current global crisis for gasoline (Ray and Ward,
2006). This chapter reviews the progress made in the development of fermented products
from sweet potato by application of bioprocessing technology.

BIOPROCESSING
Bio-processing or bioprocess engineering is broadly defined as biologically based
(enzymes or microorganisms) techniques or technology to convert biological materials into
other forms needed by mankind (Ray et al., 2006). It includes production of food, feed and
industrial chemicals, i.e. bio-ethanol, acetone- butanol, enzymes, organic acids, etc, through
fermentation and design and operation of fermentation systems, development of food and
feed processing systems and many more (Ray et al., 2008).
Bio-Processing of Sweet Potato into Food, Feed and Bio-Ethanol 165

Microbial Bio-Processing

Microbial bio-processing (fermentation), when compared to chemical processing, has


many advantages, including:

• Uniqueness; bio-processes enable the synthesis of products that cannot be made by


any other means;
• Specificity; bio-processing offers a level of specificity, predictability, and
productivity that otherwise would not exist in the manufacture of many products;
• Cost effectiveness; these capabilities provide for new process designs that are cost
effective, energy efficient, and, last but not least, environmentally benign;
• Scalable; the processes involved in bio-processing are easily scalable and can be
economically applied and linked to existing practices.
• Separation of products; the ability to separate intermediates and end products from
unique and complex processed biomass streams is essential to the commercial
viability of bio-processing.

Many of the fermented food, feed and industrial enzymes and biochemicals are based on
the koji process that belongs to a major bio-processing category known as [solid substrate
(state) fermentation (SSF)] (Krishna, 2005). This differs from submerged (SmF) fermentation
in the amount of free water that they contain.

Solid State Fermentation (SSF)

Solid state fermentation (also called as solid state bio-processing [SSB]) refers to the
process where microbial growth and product formation occurs on the surface of solid
materials. This process occurs in the absence of ―free‖ water, where the moisture is absorbed
to the solid matrix (Zheng and Shetty, 1999; Suryanarayana, 2003). SSF has a number of
advantages over SmF. These include a lower cost, improved product characteristics, higher
product yield, easier product recovery and reduced energy requirement (Raimbault, 1998;
Pandey et al., 2000; Krishna, 2005; Ray et al., 2008). It is of special economic interest for
countries that have an abundance of agro-industrial residues that are inexpensive substrates
for microbial growth (Krishna, 2005; Ray et al., 2006), besides preventing disposal- linked
environmental problems. In recent years, SSF has shown much promise in the development of
several bioprocesses and products (Pandey et al., 2000; Ray et al., 2008).
Root crops such as sweet potato and cassava, fruit and vegetable wastes have been
successfully converted into many value- added products via SSF processes (Zheng and
Shetty, 1998 a, b; Krishna, 2005; Ray and Ward, 2006; Ward et al., 2006; Ray et al., 2008).
These wastes contain mainly lignocelluloses, besides soluble sugars, starch (in case of root
crops), fibres, phenols, and other hydrolysable materials (Tengerdy and Szakacs, 2003) that
can be metabolized by a wide range of microorganisms into value-added products such as
single- cell protein, microbial enzymes, etc.
One of the important criteria in SSF is the selection of suitable microorganism(s). The
ability of the microorganisms to grow on solid substrate is the function of their aw (water
activity) requirements, their capacity to adhere to and penetrate into the substrate and their
166 Ramesh C. Ray, Samir K. Naskar and Keith I. Tomlins

ability to assimilate mixtures of different polysaccharides from complex heterogeneous


substrates (Raimbault, 1998; Pêrez- Guerra et al., 2001). A number of thermophilic bacteria,
fungi and yeasts can grow on solid substrates, and find applications in SSF processes. The
filamentous fungi are the best adapted microorganisms for SSF owing to their physiological,
enzymological and biochemical properties. The growth pattern of fungi in SSF has been
studied in detail in many cases and these can be summarized in three phases:

• Germination, germ tube elongation and mycelial branching to loosely cover most of
the substrate.
• Increase in mycelial density with aerial and penetrative hyphal development
(Viniegra- González et al., 2003). These features also give them a major advantage
over unicellular microorganisms for their colonization of the substrate and the
utilization of the available nutrients.
• In addition, their ability to grow at lower aw and under high osmotic pressure
conditions (high nutrient conditions) makes fungi efficient and competitive in the
natural microbial ecosystem for the bioconversion of solid substrates (Viniegra-
González et al., 2003). From a practical application, vegetative growth is preferred
over sporulation.

Thermophilic bacteria and yeasts have also been used in traditional cultivation in SSF
processes (Doelle et al., 1992; Ray et al., 2008). Bacteria have been used for enzyme and
organic acid production, composting, ensiling and some food processing (e.g. koji, sausages,
Japanese natto) (Weinberg and Ashbell, 2003). Yeasts have been mainly used for ethanol
production and protein enrichment of agricultural wastes (Ward et al., 2006; Ray et al.,
2006).

Submerged Fermentation (SmF)

In contrast to SSF, SmF is the process of choice for industrial operations because of the
very well known engineering aspects such as fermentation modelling, bioreactor design and
process control (Ray et al., 2006). However, SSF does have advantages over SmF in
microbial cultivation.
Sweet potato being rich in starch (10 -15% on fresh weight basis) and many functional
attributes (polyphenols and coloured pigments such as β- carotene and anthocyanins) is
amenable to microbial bio-processing into varieties of fermented foods, beverages, fermented
feeds (silage and single-cell protein) and ethanol with application of either solid state or
submerged fermentation (Ray and Ward, 2006).

BIOPROCESSING: FOOD AND BEVERAGES


Fermentation has advantages because it improves palatability, textural quality and
upgrades nutritive value by enrichment with proteins (Ray and Ward, 2006). Unlike cassava,
fewer fermented products are available from sweet potato. All fermented products arise
Bio-Processing of Sweet Potato into Food, Feed and Bio-Ethanol 167

through the use of naturally occurring microbial activities, generally believed to be a form of
‗spoilage‘. Spoilage forms that were ‗palatable‘ could be used to inoculate the next batch
(Steinkraus, 1989). These primitive processes were eventually replaced with use of starter
cultures. Humans have been fermenting foods from root crops for over 1000 years (Ray and
Sivakumar, 2009), but it is only in the past 50-60 years that a real scientific understanding of
these processes has been gained. Fermented foods and beverages from sweet potato are
discussed below.

Sour Starch

Starch is the prime component of interest for food and industrial uses of sweet potatoes.
Sweet potato starch production in China has faced problems of slow sedimentation and poor
separation of starch from some impurities, which produce off-colours in the final product. A
traditional fermentation process (SmF) involving the addition of liquid fermentate from peas
and beans (called sour liquid containing lactic acid bacteria [LAB]) at the separation stage
speeds sedimentation and enhances separation and final product quality (Timmins et al.,
1991). Sour liquid is used in enterprises with mechanized equipment.
The microbiological composition of sweet potato dough and wet starch was examined.
LAB were the principal group of microorganisms enumerated with counts of 1.0 x 106 CFU
(colony forming units)/ml in the dough and 7.2 x 103 CFU/ml in the wet starch. A number of
isolates were subsequently identified. A mixed population of Leuconostoc dextranicum and
Lc. mesenteroides dominated the dough. The wet starch had a more varied population of
homo- and hetero-fermentative lactobacilli, which included Lb. brevis, Lb. casei, Lb.
acidophilus and Lb. buchneri (Timmins et al., 1991)

Sweet and Sour Flour

The possibility of utilizing wheat- sweet potato composite flours in breads and other
baked goods has been investigated (van Hal, 2000). Sweet potato flour can act as an
important source of β-carotene. The most important quality characteristics of sweet potato
flour are moisture content, protein, β-carotene content, microbiological quality, colour, taste
and odour. Sweet potato bread has been commercialized on a limited scale in Peru and Japan.
A commercial bakery in Peru uses the very simple method of mechanically grating
peeled raw sweet potato roots and adding them to the dough, at 30% substitution for the
wheat flour (Woolfe, 1992). This appears to be a cheap and practical solution for use in areas
where fuel to dry sweet potato into flour is expensive or scarce and where it sun-drying is
climatically difficult to achieve (van Hal, 2000). However, before applying this method, it
should be ascertained that the baking process destroys trypsin inhibitors (Rekha and Padmaja,
2002), which may be present in the raw sweet potato (Sasikiran et al., 2002).

Gari
Gari made from sweet potato has been investigated as a fermented food. In Ghana, Oduro
et al. (2000) produced sweet potato gari. The method (a type of SSF) was quite similar to that
168 Ramesh C. Ray, Samir K. Naskar and Keith I. Tomlins

of cassava gari production (Akingbala et al., 1993; Sanni, 1994; Sokari and Karibo, 1996;
Osho and Dashiell, 2002). The product had moisture content (3.83%), protein (0.60%), crude
fibres (3.5%), ash (1.42%), pH (3.97), titratable acidity (0.50%) and swelling capacity (3.05),
which were within the recommended levels.

Lacto Pickles

LAB influences the flavour of fermented foods in a variety of ways. In many cases, the
most obvious change in lactic acid fermentation is the production of acid and lowering of pH
which results in an increase in sourness. Since most of the acid produced in fermentations
results from the metabolism of sugars, sweetness is likely decrease as sourness increases
(McFeeters, 2004; Montet et al, 2006; Ray and Panda, 2007). Fermentation of vegetables can
occur ―spontaneously‖ because of the natural lactic surface microflora, i.e., Lactobacillus
spp., Leuconostoc spp., Pediococcus spp., etc; however, the use of a ―starter culture‖ provides
consistency and reliability of performance (Molin, 2001), and Lactobacillus. plantarum is the
―starter‖ most frequently used in lactic fermentation of plant materials including sweet potato
(Ray and Panda, 2007).
β- Carotene (precursor of Vitamin A) and anthocyanin pigments are considered as
antioxidants. These pigments have physiological attributes such as anti-cancer and protection
against night blindness, aging and liver injury (Yoshimoto et al., 1999).
As discussed in Chapter 1, some varieties of sweet potato contain these coloured
pigments (Yamakawa, 1997). β- Carotene rich sweet potato roots were pickled by lactic
fermentation (SmF) by brining the cut and blanched roots in common salt (NaCl, 2-10%)
solution and subsequently inoculated with a probiotic strain of Lactobacillus plantarum
MTCC 1407 culture for 28 days. The treatment with 8-10% brine solution was found to be
the most acceptable organoleptically. The final product with 8 and 10% brine solutions had a
pH of 2.9-3.0, titratable acidity of 2.9- 3.7g/kg, lactic acid of 2.6- 3.2g/kg, starch of 58-68g/kg
and β- carotene of 163.0 mg/kg pickles on fresh weight basis (Panda et al., 2007). Like wise,
anthocyanin pigment rich- sweet potato (clone ST-13) cubes were pickled by lactic
fermentation by inoculating with the same bacterial strain and incubated for 28 days. The
lacto- pickle had a pH (2.5-2.8), titratable acidity (1.5 – 1.7 g/ kg), lactic acid (1.0-1.3 g/ kg),
starch (56-58 g /kg) and anthocyanin content (390 mg /kg) on pickle fresh weight basis.
Principal component analyses reduced the eleven original analytical and proximate variables
(pH, titratable acidity, lactic acid, starch, total sugar, anthocyanin, organic mater, ash, fat,
protein and calories) of anthocyanin –rich pickle to three independent components (factors),
which accounted for 91 % of the total variations (Panda et al., 2009b).
Sensory evaluation rated both β- carotene and anthocyanin- rich sweet potato lacto-pickle
acceptable based on texture, taste, aroma, flavour and after taste. The flow-chart for lacto-
pickle production is given in Figure 1.
Pickled sweet potato petioles have been commercialized in Japan. The petioles are
preserved in soy sauce with the addition of little sugar, sesame seeds and chillies and vacuum
sealed in plastic bags (Woolfe, 1992).
Bio-Processing of Sweet Potato into Food, Feed and Bio-Ethanol 169

Figure 1. Flow chart for preparation of sweet potato lacto- pickle (Source: Panda et al., 2009b).
170 Ramesh C. Ray, Samir K. Naskar and Keith I. Tomlins

Sweet Potato Curd and Yogurt

Curd and yoghurt, products of lactic acid fermentation of milk, are reported to possess
several nutritional and dietary advantages over milk (Berger et al., 1979; Younus et al.,
2002). For better enrichment of curd and yoghurt with dietary fibres, starch, minerals and
vitamins, vegetables like French bean, lemon, soybean or sweet potato are commonly co-
fermented with milk (Holzapfel and Schillinger, 1992). While yoghurt is very popular in
American and European countries, consumption of curd is very common among Asian
people, especially in Indian Sub-continent (Sarkar et al., 1996; Younus et al., 2002). In curd
much of the lactose in milk is converted to digestible lactic acid by LAB i.e. Lactobacillus
bulgaricus, Streptococcus lactis, St. clemoris, St. thermophilus, etc (Masud et al., 1991;
Heller, 2001).
The starter culture for yoghurt is Lb. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Partial
pre-digestion of protein in curd and yogurt may have beneficial effects for individuals with
poor digestive capacity (Collins et al., 1991a, 1991b). A yoghurt like product, having a
titratable acidity of 0.85%, was prepared from sweet potato puree, milk, sucrose and freeze-
dried yoghurt inoculum (Collins et al., 1991a). On average, the product contained 19%
protein, 3.8% ash, 2.5% dietary fibres, 80% moisture and 8.0-1.9% fat (Collins et al., 1991b).
A trained panel gave a mean score of 7.7 (scale 1-10) for flavour, 3.9 (scale 1-5) for body/
texture and 3.8 for appearance and colour (scale 1-5).
Similarly, sweet potato curd was prepared by fermenting boiled - carotene-rich sweet
potato puree and cow milk with curd (starter) culture (Lactobacillus bulgaricus,
Streptococcus lactis, St. diaceticlactis, etc.) (Ray et al., 2005). There were not much variation
in pH (3.6-3.9), titratable acidity (10-11.8 g/ kg) and lactic acid (7.9-5.3 g/ kg) contents in
curd consisting different concentration of sweet potato puree. However, curd with 12-16%
sweet potato puree was most preferred by the consumers. The addition of sweet potato puree
(12-16%) made the curd quite firm and imparted flavour, body/texture, minerals, nutrients,
anti-diabetic substances, -carotene pigments (antioxidant), dietary fibres and starch
(carbohydrate source). The lactic acid bacterial counts in the curd after 18h of fermentation
having 8 and 16% sweet potato were 7x 107 and 14x 107 (CFU/ ml), respectively. The
consumer evaluation scores ranged from 7-8 (in a hedonic scale of 1-9), from moderate liking
to very much liking of the sweet potato curd, taking into consideration the sensory attributes
such as colour, texture, flavour, sweetness, appearance, etc (Mohapatra et al., 2007).
Similarly, sweet potato curd was prepared using anthocyanin pigments rich sweet potato
(Panda et al., 2006). The flow-chart for preparing sweet potato curd is given in Figure 2.

Lacto- Juices

Non-alcoholic beverages, from high β-carotene or anthocyanin-rich sweet potato


cultivars, possessing a nutritional value comparable with fruit drinks have been formulated
(Truong and Fementira, 1990; Baah et al., 2003). The colour of the beverage varied according
to the flesh colour of the roots, ranging from yellow to orange or pinkish purple. A rice
beverage was prepared by adding sweet potato or a mixture of barley sprouts and sweet
potato (1:1). The amylase activity in the mixture with barley sprouts and sweet potato
Bio-Processing of Sweet Potato into Food, Feed and Bio-Ethanol 171

decreased more than that of the mixture with only sweet potato. The use of sweet potato
resulted in an increase of sweetness, flavour and improved preference in rice beverage (Suh et
al., 2003).

Figure 2. Flow-chart for preparation of sweet potato curd (Source: Panda et al., 2006).

For preparation of lacto-juice, fresh juice was fermented with LAB to produce lacto-
juice. Lacto-juices processed by lactic acid fermentation bring about a change in the beverage
assortment for their high nutritive value, vitamins and minerals which are beneficial to human
health when consumed (Rakin et al., 2004). Sweet potato roots (boiled and non-boiled) rich in
β- carotene pigments were fermented with Lb. plantarum for 48 hour to make lacto-juice.
During fermentation both analytical [pH, titratable acidity, lactic acid, starch, total sugar,
reducing sugar (g/kg roots), total phenol and β-carotene (mg/kg roots)] and sensory (texture,
taste, aroma, flavour and after taste) analyses of sweet potato lacto-juice were evaluated. The
fermented juice was subjected to consumers‘ evaluation for acceptability. There were no
significant variations in biochemical constituents (pH, 2.2-3.3; lactic acid, 1.19-1.27 g/kg
root; titratable acidity, 1.23 - 1.46 g/kg root, etc) of lacto- juices prepared from non-boiled
and fully-boiled sweet potato roots except β-carotene concentration [130 ± 7.5 mg/kg (fully-
172 Ramesh C. Ray, Samir K. Naskar and Keith I. Tomlins

boiled roots) and 165± 8.1 mg/kg (non-boiled roots)]. The panellist evaluation scores ranged
from 3 - 4.8 (in a hedonic scale of 1-5) from moderate liking to very much liking of sweet
potato lacto-juice (Panda and Ray, 2007).The flow-chart for lacto-juice preparation is given in
Figure 3. Likewise, lacto-juice was prepared from an anthocyanin-rich sweet potato clone
(ST-13). The juice was rich in lactic acid (0.23- 0.37 g/100ml) and anthocyanin pigments (45-
70mg/100ml juice) (Panda et al., 2009a).

Figure 3. Flow-chart for preparation of sweet potato lacto- juice (Source: Panda et al., 2009a).
Bio-Processing of Sweet Potato into Food, Feed and Bio-Ethanol 173

Acidophilus Milk

Acidophilus milk is a probiotic drink, which is a product of milk fermentation by the


bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus. The fermented milk has been reported to have therapeutic
value for suppressing toxin-producing organisms in the intestine of humans especially in
infants (Perez and Tan, 2006). The acidophilus bacteria contained in milk are able to pass
through the stomach and gain predominance in the intestine tract due to the presence of other
types of bacteria. L. acidophilus is a lactose-fermenting bacterium that produces lactic acid as
a major product of fermentation (Reed, 1982). It is known to have beneficial effects on the
maintenance of normal intestinal microflora by producing inhibitors, stimulating the host
immune system and reduction of serum cholesterol levels. It also helps in nutritional
enhancement by reducing the levels of toxic substances (Ray and Panda, 2007). Acidophilus
milk enriched with purees from anthocyanin rich sweet potato varieties (―kinampay‖ and RC
2000) was developed. Addition of sweet potato puree to the acidophilus milk improved the
sensory qualities and nutritional values (Perez and Tan, 2006). The flow-chart for production
of acidophilus milk enriched with sweet potato puree is given in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Flowchart for production of acidophilus milk using sweet potato purees (Source: Perez and
Tan, 2006).
174 Ramesh C. Ray, Samir K. Naskar and Keith I. Tomlins

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce, a popular condiment used every day with Asian dishes is traditionally
prepared from a mixture of soybeans and wheat, fermented by moulds, especially Aspergillus
  oryzae or A.sojae, to give a dark brown salty liquid used as a flavouring agent. The potential
replacement of wheat flour with suitable substitutes in soy sauce manufacture, as in the case
of bread, could mean a considerable utilization of available resources such as sweet potato
flour (Data et al., 1986). The flow -chart for production of soy sauce using sweet potato flour
is given in Figure 5.

Soybean (1kg) Sweet potato flour (1kg)

Roast until light brown


Soak overnight in colour

Cook by steaming for 3h or


Mix
pressure cook for 1.5-2h

Spread on trays

Mix with starter of [Aspregillus;


(A. oryzae or A. sojae )] spores

Incubate for 4-5 days at room

“Koji” with heavy growth of


Aspregillus spores

Transfer to plastic container. Add 0.925g


of slat and 3.55 l if water

Incubate at room temperature for 3 months or more

(3×) Press and strain to extract sauce liquor

Add molasses to increase colour and viscosity

Pasturize at 80°C for 30 min

Bottle

Soy sauce

Figure 5. Flow chart for production of soy sauce using sweet potato flour (Source: Data et al., 1986).
Bio-Processing of Sweet Potato into Food, Feed and Bio-Ethanol 175

The starter culture was prepared by inoculating pressure-cooked rice with A. oryzae or A.
sojae at room temperature for 4-6 days. During the subsequent koji preparation the healthiest
growth of mould spores and finally the highest yield of sauce were given by sweet potato
flour made from cooked rather than raw roots because cooking gelatinized the sweet potato
starch thus rendering it more vulnerable for breakdown by microorganisms. Sensory
evaluation revealed no significant difference between the soy sauce made with sweet potato
flour and two commercial brand of soy sauce from Philippines in terms of colour, aroma,
consistency, flavour and overall acceptability.

Vinegar

Vinegar is a condiment made from sugar- or starch-containing materials by an alcoholic


fermentation, followed by the microbial oxidation of alcohol to acetic acid. When starch-
based material such as sweet potato is used as raw material, the starch requires initial
hydrolysis to sugars before alcoholic fermentation by yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) can
take place. The next step, oxidation of the alcohol to acetic acid is carried out by acetic acid
bacteria (Acetobacter spp.). The completed vinegar must contain a minimum of 4 g acetic
acid/100 ml (Ward, 1989).
Recently, new red vinegar has been developed in Japan via fermentation with the storage
root of purple fleshed sweet potato cv. Ayamurasaki. The red vinegar had a higher
antioxidant activity than white or black vinegars. The red vinegars contained some new
components possibly derived from the original purple sweet potato. A major component was
isolated using preparative HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) and the
chemical structure was determined to be 6-O-(E) –caffeoyl- (2-O-ß-d- glucopyranosyl) - α-d-
gkucopyranose (caffeoylsophorose) by MS (mass spectroscopy) and NMR (nuclear magnetic
resonance). Because the caffeoylsophorose showed a high antioxidant activity, it plays an
important functional role in red vinegar as do anthocyanins and other components (Terahara
et al., 2003).

Alcoholic Beverages

Shochu
Shochu is an alcoholic beverage of Japan, most commonly distilled from barley, sweet
potato or rice. Typically it is 25% alcohol by volume, making it weaker than whisky, but
stronger than wine and sake (Yamakawa, 2000). The production of koji, a heavy inoculum of
Aspergillus kawachii or A. niger on steamed rice provides a source of enzymes which
hydrolyze sweet potato starch to sugar. A. niger also produces citric acid (Bindumole et al.,
2000) in the first maromi (seed mash), which leaves the pH to 3.2-3.4 and thus inhibits the
growth of undesirable microorganisms. Fresh and unpeeled sweet potato is trimmed, washed,
steamed and crushed and added (4:1) to the maromi. During fermentation of this main mash,
simultaneous starch conversion to sugar by the koji enzymes and fermentation of sugar to
alcohol by the yeast S. cerevisiae takes place. The final alcohol concentration of the mash is
13-15%. The mash is then pumped to the still and the alcohol is distilled off. Different
176 Ramesh C. Ray, Samir K. Naskar and Keith I. Tomlins

batches of shochu may be blended to give a uniform product and the alcohol content is
adjusted to 20-40% (v/v) before bottling (Woolfe, 1992).

Figure 6. Flow chart for preparation of shochu (Source: Woolfe, 1992).


Bio-Processing of Sweet Potato into Food, Feed and Bio-Ethanol 177

Wine and Beer


Wine and beer are the other products which can be processed from coloured (anthocyanin
or β-carotene) sweet potato cultivars (Yamakawa, 1997) Yellow, red and black coloured
beverages (sparkling liquor) are sold in the Kyushu Province in Japan (Yamakawa, 1997,
2000). A process of enzymatically saccharifying the sweet potato pulp (starch) and
fermenting the mash into wine using wine yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been
developed at the Regional Centre, CTCRI, India. The wine prepared from an anthocyanin
sweet potato clone (ST -14) is bright red in colour and is similar to fruit wines. Patents
applications have been filed for the biotechnological processes developed for the preparation
of red wine from sweet potato (CTCRI, 2003).

BIOPROCESSING: PROTEIN ENRICHED ANIMAL FEED


Bearing in mind the increased level of ruminant and poultry farming and the lack of a
corresponding increase in feed production, the importance of microbial sources of feed that
are rich in protein has been in demand. Methods for the bioconversion of crop and crop
residues into microbial feed rich in protein have been developed (Sriroth et al., 2000; Ray et
al., 2006).

Silage

Ensiling or silage making is an age-old technique of solid or semi-solid state fermentation


for the conservation of nutrients in green fodder grasses through fermentation and storing
them for round-the-year feeding of animals (Limon, 1991). Production of good quality silage
depends upon the rapid fermentation, under anaerobic conditions, of silage raw material
carbohydrates to increase acidity and lower the pH to the point at which further microbial
activity ceases thus preventing putrefaction and preserving nutrients (McDonald et al., 1991;
Nsereko and Rooke, 1999).
Sweet potato tops, especially leaves, are very rich in nutrients such as proteins, vitamins
and minerals (Woolfe, 1992; Otieno et al., 2006). They also contain polyphenols, in
particular, chlorogenic and isochlorogenic acids, which are anti-oxidants (Yamakawa, 2000;
Yoshimoto, chapter 3 in this book). One of the constraints in the use of the large quantities of
sweet potato foliage for forage is that its availability is concentrated into one or two seasons
of the year after harvest, which in general does not coincide with pasture scarcity (Tewe et
al., 1998). Preservation as hay (dehydration) or silage may therefore be needed. The latter
method is more practical in the humid tropics where quick drying in the field is not possible.
Simple small silos can be made with discarded gunny bags, polyethylene sugar bags and
related materials, all of which can be afforded by rural farmers in the tropics (CIP, 2000;
Giang et al., 2004).
The production of silage from sweet potato vines and roots has been studied in China
(Zhang, 1995), Japan and the Philippines (Woolfe, 1992; Mariscal et al., 1997)) and more
recently in Vietnam and Kenya (CIP, 2000; Aregheore, 2004; Die Peters, chapter 9 in this
book). Some of these studies were carried out in relation to the feeding of small ruminants
178 Ramesh C. Ray, Samir K. Naskar and Keith I. Tomlins

such as goats, sheep and pigs, rather than cattle, but their findings may conveniently be
discussed in this section. In Japan, the addition of inorganic acids (hydrochloric and sulphuric
acid in the ratio of 19:1), mashed sweet potato roots or molasses produced vine silage with
high lactic acid and no butyric acid content. Silage of excellent fermentative quality was
obtained from sweet potato foliage when no additives such as urea or sweet potato roots were
used (CIP, 2000).
The addition of sweet potato roots had no noticeable effect on dry matter losses or lactic
acid production, but increased acetic and butyric acid concentrations. The vine silage without
additives, on the other hand, had acceptable characteristics with an average pH of 3.9, a low
concentration of butyric acid and a low (11%) loss of dry matter by putrefaction (Tewe et al.,
1998; Tinh et al., 2000).

Single -Cell Protein (SCP)

Single cell protein (SCP) is produced from many different microbial types, including
algae, yeasts, filamentous fungi and bacteria. The most important organisms participating in
the protein enrichment of agricultural wastes are fungi, yeasts and bacteria which convert
some of the carbon rich fractions of these wastes into microbial protein. Thus the major
substrates for these organisms are typically the different types of carbohydrates available in
the wastes (Ward et al., 2008).
Large volumes of solid wastes produced from starch processing of sweet potato are
suitable substrates for SCP production through SSF. Thus, microbial fermentation results in
quick growth of selected microorganisms which are rich in protein and the dried biomass of
the end product is referred to, some what incorrectly, as single cell protein (SCP) (Anupama
and Ravindra, 2000).
Sweet potato wastes (bagassae) are a good candidate for SCP because of its abundant
supply in several countries like China, Taiwan, and Japan at reasonable cost. The bagassae
contains 2.32% protein and 65.4% total carbohydrates and is itself not a good source of
protein for animal feeding (Ray et al., 2006). Fermented sweet potato feed stuffs are reported
to be produced and utilized for livestock in China (Jiang et al., 1993) and in Korea (Ahn et
al., 1997).
Yeasts such as Candida utilis, Pichia burtonii and Saccharomyces spp. are used for SCP
production from sweet potato (Yang, 1992; Yang et al., 1993). Sweet potato bagassae was
treated with Endomycopsis fibuligera, Candida utilis and Trichoderma koningii via SSF. The
protein content of bagassae was found to increase by 26.9% and its cellulose content
decreased by 36.16%.
The converted sweet potato bagassae was treated as a pig feed and was found to stimulate
appetite, and promote growth. Sweet potato distillery wastes are enriched with yeast protein
and the feed is utilized for red carp (Cyprinus carpiol) (Mokolensang et al., 2003). Yeast
strains did not produce any fungal toxin (Tian, 2006). Therefore, the protein enrichment of
sweet potato bagassae with yeast strains by SSF for animal feeds appears to have commercial
potential. Microbial cells (Geotrichum sp.) are applied for dehydration of the distilled waste
of sweet potato shochu (Yoshi et al., 2001) and the dried product can be used as SCP.
Bio-Processing of Sweet Potato into Food, Feed and Bio-Ethanol 179

BIOPROCESSING:
FOOD AND FEED ADDITIVES AND BIO-ETHANOL
Microbial Enzymes

The production of microbial enzymes is an important and rapidly growing industry in


many parts of the world. The enzymes produced find a wide range of applications in the food
industry, including the hydrolysis of starch in mashes for alcoholic fermentation, clarification
of beers and fruit juices, in the manufacture of glucose and fructose syrups, de-hiding of
leather. Root crops as a whole, starch, flour or residues in particular could be used as cheap
fermentation substrates for the production of microbial enzymes (Pandey et al., 2000; Ray, et
al., 2006).
Sweet potato bagassae (moisture content, 50-58%; pH, 3.5- 4.33) was used as substrate
for protease production by amylolytic fungi in SSF. Several strains of Aspergillus, Rhizopus,
Actinomucor and Mucor were tested. Aspergillus and Rhizopus spp. Showed higher
proteinase activity than Mucor spp. (Yang and Huang, 1994). In another study, protease was
produced using sweet potato supplemented with rice bran and minerals as substrate in SSF.
Partially purified protease with DEAE (Diethyl amino ethyl) cellulose- Sephacel column
chromatography was thermally stable and was able to retain 80-100% of activity in pH 4.0-
5.5 at 500C for 40 min (Yang and Chiu, 1986).

Organic Acids

Lactic and citric acid are important as food additives in the food and non-food industries.
They are produced on an industrial scale either by microbial fermentations or by chemical
synthesis. In recent years, the fermentation approach has become more prominent because of
the increasing market demand for naturally produced lactic acid (Ray et al., 2006).
Lactic acid could be produced by Lactobacillus sp. from potato and sweet potato flour
(Ray et al., 1991). In a recent study, the production of lactic acid was increased 2.5 fold over
the conventional method by applying the response surface methodology (statistical design)
and using the amylolytic lactic acid bacterium, Lactobacillus plantarum as the microbial
culture and sweet potato flour as the carbohydrate source in SmF (Panda and Ray, 2008).
Sweet potato has been used a substrate for citric acid production using Aspergillus niger
in SSF (Bindumole et al., 2000). Leangon et al. (1999) studied the biochemical mechanism of
citric acid accumulation during SSF of sweet potato using a low citrate-producing mutant of
A. niger Yang No. 2.
It was found that over production of citric acid in SSF was related to an increased glucose
flux through glycolysis. At low glucose fluxes, oxalic acid is accumulated. When the process
was operated in a packed-bed reactor in SmF, the bed loading, airflow rate and substrate
particle sizes were the important operational parameters. However, yield was extremely low,
0.82 g citrate/ kg sweet potato (Lu et al, 1995, 1997; Zheng et al., 1999). Several countries,
notably China, Japan and Vietnam, are now manufacturing citric acid from sweet potato
starch or from its by-products (Jiang et al., 1993; Zhang, 1995; Lu et al., 2006).
180 Ramesh C. Ray, Samir K. Naskar and Keith I. Tomlins

The process necessitates the initial breakdown of starch to sugars before these sugars are
fermented by moulds, for example, Aspergillus niger, to citric acid. In Sichuan Province,
China, the largest sweet potato growing area of the country, citric acid is the fourth most
important product from sweet potato after starch, noodles and alcohol (Wiersema et al., 1989;
Jiang et al., 1993). In the food industry, citric acid is added as a flavour enhancer or
preservative in a wide ranges of products particularly soft drinks. In Japan, a drink consisting
of a mixture of citric acid from sweet potato and ascorbic acid crystals, which is added to
water to taste, has been commercialized (Woolfe, 1992).

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

MSG is an important flavour enhancer of a wide range of savoury foods. China is the
largest producer and consumer of MSG in the world (Bovell- Benzamin, 2007). The starch
has first to be degraded to sugars, which are then converted by microorganisms such as
Brevibacterium glutamicum to glutamic acid. This is then converted to MSG salt (Jiang et al.,
1993). China uses sweet potato starch as one of the raw materials for production of MSG. In
Siachuan Province in China, it is the fifth most important product from sweet potato, almost
equal in tonnage to citric acid.

Sugar Syrups

The conversion of starch into a range of syrups and other derivatives is becoming
increasingly important in some countries where these products can be used to replace more
expensive imported sugar extracted from cane or beet.
These conversions employ are based on microbial enzymes and can utilize starch sources
including sweet potato and cassava, which may be particularly appropriate as they are highly
susceptible to saccharification by enzymes (Paolucci et al., 2000). Though starch can be
converted into sugars by the use of acids, this method is rapidly giving way to the use of
immobilized bacterial enzymes (Zanin and de Morase, 1998), the specific properties of which
give rise to a variety of compounds useful in the dessert, bread, fermented milk products,
brewing and other industries.
Glucose syrup, for example, is produced from starches, including sweet potato starch
(Ray and Ward, 2006) by bacterial amylase. However, it has only 70% of the sweetness of
sucrose. The partial conversion of glucose into its isomer fructose by bacterial glucose
isomerase to give high fructose syrup, or isoglucose, as it is also known, gave rise to a
substance with much greater sweetness than sucrose. Isoglucose (which contains at least 42%
fructose) has become an important replacement for sucrose in several areas of the food
industry where it can be used in lower concentration than sucrose to provide the same
sweetness, hence reducing the energy (calorie) content of the food. Another sugar, maltose is
produced from starch by the action of β- amylase (Fontana et al., 2001) is useful to the
brewing industry.
Bio-Processing of Sweet Potato into Food, Feed and Bio-Ethanol 181

Baker's Yeast and other Products

To identify improved baker‘s yeast for industrial manufacture of bakery products, yeasts
(S. cerevisiae) strains from dried sweet potatoes (hoshi-imo), a traditional preserved food in
Japan were isolated and characterized (Nishida et al., 2004). The strain ONY1 had
characteristics typical of commercial baker‘s yeast strain (T128). Sweet potato served as the
substrate for production of oxytetracycline in SSF (Yang and Yuan, 1990). Attempts have
been made to produce microbial hydrogen from sweet potato starch residue (Yokoi et al.,
2001).

Alkali Metal Glucoheptonate

The alkali metal glucoheptanate is used as water conditioning chelant and the protein-
containing pulp residue as animal food. Alkali metal glucoheptonate has been produced from
sweet potato by reducing the size of sweet potatoes to particles to about 1/40cm and slurrying
the sweet potato particles. Then, commercial α-amylase is added to the slurry. The slurry was
boiled and filtered to separate liquid syrup and a protein-containing pulp residue. The liquid
syrup was cooled down and glucoamylase added before boiling again. Subsequently, an alkali
metal cyanide was added to the liquid syrup to produce the alkali metal glucoheptanate
(www.freepatentsonline.com/5435845.html).

Chitosan

Large amounts of waste water containing high concentration of organic matter are
produced during distillation of shochu. Fungal treatment of these distillery effluents for
production of chitosan was investigated (Yokoi et al., 1998). Absidia atrospora and
Gongronella butleri grew well in shochu distillery waste water and sweet potato shochu
waste water. Chitosan production was highest from G. butleri strain. Nitar and Stevens (2002)
have described an improved method for production of chitosan from mycelia of the fungus G.
butleri USDB 0201 by SSF of sweet potato. The chitosan was extracted with NaOH and
acetic acid. The resulting extract was clarified using a heat stable commercial α- amylase. The
yield (4-6g/100g mycelia) of chitosan increased with increasing duration of fungal growth up
to 6th day.

Bio-Ethanol

Cane and beet molasses are the first choice for bio-ethanol production all over the world
(Ward and Singh, 2002); however, the gap between the demand and supply of molasses has
been widened recently world over (Chandel et al., 2007). Hence, demand for alternative
sources of energy for bio-ethanol production from diverse raw materials has increased (Ward
et al., 2006) including starch from root crops (Ray and Ward, 2006). Ethanol is an ideal fuel
supplement or substitute for petrol, and starch from sweet potato can produce 400- 450 litres
182 Ramesh C. Ray, Samir K. Naskar and Keith I. Tomlins

(ethanol)/ton of starch (equivalent to 160-180 litre. ethanol/tonne of raw sweet potato roots)
(Ray and Naskar, 2008). Ethanol production potential of sweet potato is nearly 40% higher
than other starchy crops such as Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.), potato
(Solanum tuberosum L.), sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.), sweet sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.)
and Fodder beet (Beta vulgaris L.) (Mays et al., 1990). However, the basic processes in the
production of ethanol from sweet potato are somewhat cumbersome as compared to molasses,
because of the requirement to hydrolyse the starch and include the following processes:

 Milling sweet potato chips or flour through sieve of 0.4 mm.


 Liquefaction (using dilute inorganic acid or thermostable α-amylase).
 Saccharification (using amyloglucosidase).
 Fermentation, and
 Distillation

The manufacture of ethanol from sweet potato for human consumption as well as fuel, for
chemical and pharmaceutical purposes is already established, especially in countries such as
China, Japan and Korea. In China, ethanol is the most important product after starch and
noodles; in Korea, however, ethanol production has been steadily rising, and in the 2000s
represented more than 30% of total production, compared to only about 8% in the case of
starch (Scott et al., 2000). Japan uses only 6-8% of its production for ethanol (Yamakawa,
2000) and in India, technology has been standardized for ethanol production from sweet
potato flour and roots (Ray and Naskar, 2008) but the process is yet to be commercialized.
Sweet potato chips or flour is commonly utilized for ethanol production. The process
followed is similar to that for cassava: adding water to the dried chips and boiling, adding
enzymes to convert starch to sugar, fermenting the sugar to alcohol and distilling (Wiersema
et al., 1989; Reddy and Basappa, 1997; Ray and Naskar, 2008). Various factors, i.e. acid or
enzyme concentration, temperature, pH of the mash, fermentation period, cell immobilization,
etc were studied on ethanol fermentation from sweet potato in membrane reactors (Azhar and
Hamdy, 1981; Yu et al., 1996). One of the process developments made for enzymatic
hydrolysis of various starch-containing crops and biomass is the introduction of simultaneous
saccharification and fermentation process (Ward et al., 2006). This process employs
thermotolerant yeast strains to reduce the number of reactors involved by eliminating the
separate (saccharification) reactor. In a recent study, ethanol yield of 258g/kg flour and
95g/kg roots of sweet potato was obtained by applying simultaneous saccharification and
fermentation technology employing thermotolerant (≤ 400C) yeast (S. cerevisiae CTCRI 10)
strain (Ray and Naskar, 2008).The process partially reduces the production cost as
saccharification and fermentation process have been combined. However, the cost (US$) of
ethanol production/litre is still higher (0.72) as compared to sugar cane (0.27) and cassava
(0.55) (Mohanty et al., 2008).
The other approach to make sweet potato ethanol cost effective is to genetically engineer
the crop to increase significantly the starch content and consequently conversion to ethanol.
Starch is chemically composed of two types of glucan polymers- amylase and amylopectin.
The ADP glucose is the precursor for synthesis of both amylase and amylopectin. Therefore,
the regulation of ADP glucose pyrophosphorylase (ADPGase) would determine the sink
strength (capacity to accumulate photosynthesis products) of the roots in potato, sweet potato
Bio-Processing of Sweet Potato into Food, Feed and Bio-Ethanol 183

and other root crops and its over-expression would produce roots with higher starch content.
Transgenic potato expressing Escherichia coli glg 16 gene coding the bacterial ADPGase
showed remarkably high starch content (60% more than the normal) in tubers (Stark et al.,
1992). Researchers of North Carolina State University (USA) are re-engineering sweet potato
to make it better suited for producing ethanol. By incorporating genes from bacteria from
deep sea thermal vents, the group is studying to create an industrial sweet potato with double
the starch content and enriched with liquefying and saccharifying enzymes, i.e. α-amylases
and amyloglucosidase. They propose that the special genes incorporated could reduce the
costs of the enzymes those are used by biofuel processors to breakdown starch to sugars
which are then converted to alcohol by fermentation (http://domesticfuel.com/2007/11/30
/sweet-potato-fuel/).

CONCLUSION AND FUTURE PERSPECTIVES


Root crops such as sweet potato for human consumption have limited growth potential as
rice and wheat remains the preferred food in most of the world. Value addition of sweet
potato by bioprocessing has the potential to lead to newer food, feed and beverage products
and contribute to biofuel production. Newer foods include anthocyanin-rich sweet potato
wine and vinegar, β- carotene rich lacto-pickle and lacto-juice which have potential functional
and nutraceutical properties. The study of fermentation microorganisms could lead to the
identification of microbial strains particularly suited for the over-secretion of valuable
biological products such as enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, antibiotics and flavour enhancers
such as monosodium glutamate. Among the bio-derived products, bio- ethanol from sweet
potato has the potential to contribute to the demand for biofuels. However, research is needed
to develop improved fermentation processes such as combined liquefaction-saccharification-
fermentation by application of process engineering and biotechnology, and genetically
engineering the crop with high starch content and self-processing genetic attributes to reduce
the cost of ethanol production to compete successfully with sugarcane, sugar beet or other
cheaper substrates.

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WEBSITES

http://domesticfuel.com/2007/11/30/sweet-potato-fuel/
www.freepatentsonline.com/5435845.html
In: Sweet Potato: Post Harvest Aspects in Food ISBN 978-1-60876-343-6
Editors: R. C. Ray and K. I. Tomlins © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Chapter 7

SWEET POTATO UTILIZATION IN HUMAN HEALTH,


INDUSTRY AND ANIMAL FEED SYSTEMS

Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin
Team Lead, Food Processing and Product Development Team
Tuskegee University NASA Center for Food and Environmental Systems for
Human Exploration of Space (CFESH)
Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences
Room 300-A Campbell Hall ,Tuskegee University

ABSTRACT
Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam) is an important root crop in most
developing countries, which has not realized its full potential as a mainstream food in
human and animal systems. The overall objective of the paper was to review the
utilization of sweet potato in human health, industry and animal feed systems.
Specifically, the paper summarized the biochemical, bioactive and functional properties
of sweet potato; described the potential role of sweet potato in human health; highlighted
industrial utilization and emerging applications of sweet potato, with emphasis on sweet
potato starch and described the literature regarding the potential usefulness of sweet
potato in animal feed systems. A combination of complementary strategies was used to
collect information for the review including a systematic review of scientific, government
and industry databases. The biochemical, nutritional, bioactive and functional properties
of sweet potato make it a potentially good candidate for reducing the global food
insecurity, vitamin A deficiency and improving nutritional status worldwide. The sweet
potato has antidiabetic properties, that is, the capability to lower blood glucose level and
improve glucose tolerance. White-skinned sweet potatoes have antioxidative, radical
scavenging and antimutagenic properties and have been associated with reduced liver
injury and blood pressure lowering activity. The stems and leaves of sweet potato contain
potentially bioactive phytochemicals including chlorogenic acids, which have been
shown to improve glucose tolerance in humans and high amounts of polyphenolics,
which are protective against diseases linked to oxidation such as cancer and


Phone: (334)727-8717; Fax: (334)727-8493 ; E-mail: acbenjamin@tuskegee.edu
194 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

cardiovascular disease. Sweet potato starch has industrial applications such as


sweeteners, citric acid, beverage, noodle production, industrial alcohol, ethanol, fuel and
derived products as maltose. In animal feed systems, sweet potato leaves can be used as a
protein source for growing pigs, goats, and chickens and for improving ruminant urea
utilization. Sweet potato could become a more economically competitive source for use
in human health, industry and animal feed systems, and can play a major role as a
renewable energy source in the future.

INTRODUCTION
Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam) is an important root crop in most developing
and some developed countries. Over 95% of the global sweet potato crop is produced in
developing countries, where it is the most widely grown root crop (Table 1). In the United
States (U.S.), the sweet potato is usually called ‗yam‘ although it is distantly related to the
true yam (Dioscorea spp.). The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant belonging to the family
Convolvulaceae, which consists of roughly 50 genera and over a thousand species. I. batatas
is the only member of this family with edible roots, which are valuable food sources in human
and animal systems (Purseglove, 1991; Woolfe, 1992). All sweet potato cultivars are more-
or-less sweet-flavored. The roots of the sweet potato are usually long and conical, with skin
color ranging between red, light pink, purple, brown or white, while the flesh could be white,
yellow, orange or purple (Figure 1). Some cultivars of I. batatas are grown as ornamental
plants.

Table 1. Selected sweet potato indicators from different regions of the world

Region Production/ Rank vs. 20 other Utilization Consumption


1,000 tons major foods 1994-1996 1994-1996
Food Feed kg/capita/y
ASIA
China 117,848 2 46 49 44
Indonesia 2,013 5 88 2 9
Vietnam 1,675 3 85 10 20
India 1,159 16 95 0 1
Japan 1,140 4 72 6 7
AFRICA
Uganda 1,188 3 85 0 85
Rwanda 967 2 94 0 16
LATIN AMERICA
Brazil 655 10 50 40 2

EUROPE
Portugal 23 9 21 71 1
U.S.A 604 12 90 3 2
FAOSTAT, 2008.
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 195

The sweet potato is native to the tropical parts of the Americas and is one of the oldest
root vegetable known to humans. Historically, sweet potato has always been used as a food
security or famine item in times of food crises in many countries. Notable examples are: (i) in
Japan when typhoons destroyed the rice fields; (ii) in China when famine beleaguered the
country in the 1960s; and (iii) in Uganda when virus devastated the cassava crop. However,
its uses have diversified considerably in developing countries. Throughout the world,
different sweet potato cultivars are grown, with specific cultivars being unique to particular
countries and regions. For example, in the U.S., producers tend to grow only one or two
major cultivars for regional and national markets, but may grow several cultivars in small
amounts for local markets. The two cultivars, which account for most of the current U.S.
acreage, are 'Jewel' and ‗Beauregard‘. North Carolina produces the most sweet potatoes in the
U.S., roughly 40% of the nation‘s annual production (http://www.answers.com/topic). The
state of Mississippi in the U.S., another major sweet potato producer, cultivates roughly 8,200
acres. Sweet potatoes contribute approximately $19 million dollars annually to the state‘s
economy (http://www.answers.com/topic).
Although sweet potato is among the world‘s most important versatile crop, it has not
realized its full potential as a mainstream food in human and animal systems. Some reasons
advanced by Vinning (2003) for this under-exploitation of the sweet potato are: (i) it is often
grown by small farmers on marginal soils with limited outputs; and (ii) its production is often
concentrated in countries with lower per capita incomes.
The per capita consumption of sweet potato worldwide is shown in Table 1. The per
capita sweet potato consumption in Canada, Europe and Australia is extremely limited and is
often restricted to migrant populations (CIP, 1999). Roughly 133,865 million tons of sweet
potatoes are produced globally each year (Table 1). Asia is the largest sweet potato producing
region followed by Africa, Latin America, Europe and the U.S. China accounts for 90% of all
sweet potatoes produced in Asia and an estimated 82% of total world sweet potato production
(Table1; FAOSTAT, 2008).

OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY


Overall

• To review the utilization of the sweet potato in human health, animal feed systems
and industry

Specific

• To summarize the biochemical, bioactive and functional properties of sweet potato;


• To describe the potential role of sweet potato in human health;
• To highlight industrial utilization and emerging applications of sweet potato, with
emphasis on sweet potato starch; and
• To highlight the literature regarding the potential usefulness of sweet potato in
animal feed systems.
196 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

Methodology

A combination of complementary strategies was used to collect information for the


review including: a systematic review of scientific, government, and industry sources for
information; computerized scientific literature databases (for example, Medline, Social
Science Citation Index, Science Direct, etc.); and reviewing government and international
organizations publications and databases through the Internet (for example, statistical
abstracts, census data and International Potato Center).

USES, BIOCHEMICAL, BIOACTIVE AND FUNCTIONAL


PROPERTIES OF SWEET POTATO
In the U.S., sweet potatoes are most commonly used in pies and other sweet dishes during
the holiday season such as Thanksgiving and Christmas and other festival times. Sweet potato
is consumed daily by 66 and 33% of the rural and urban population, respectively, in Papua
New Guinea (Sawer, 2001). In parts of West, Central and East Africa, sweet potato is an
important source of calories, and is consumed by people of all age groups (Hagenimana et al.,
1998). Some examples of the traditional utilization of sweet potatoes around the world
include boiling, steaming, baking, canning, drying and milling or frying, incorporating into
porridge and eating with stews (Woolfe, 1992). Carver's sweet potato inventions contains 73
dyes, 17 wood fillers, 14 candies, 5 library pastes, 5 breakfast foods, 4 starches, 4 flours and 3
molasses (Carver, 1936) (Table 2). However, sweet potatoes can be utilized in many other
ways either as intermediate or bulk ingredients in recipes or as complete value-added
products. For example, cooked, mashed sweet potatoes can be used to replace some of the
wheat flour in breads, cakes, muffins and cookie recipes. Sweet potato syrup can be processed
into starch, noodles, candy, desserts, and flour. In some countries roots are processed to
produce starch and fermented to make alcohol. Figure 1 shows some value-added sweet
potato products.
Furthermore, sweet potato flour can serve as an alternative for individuals diagnosed with
celiac disease, or with allergies to the gluten in wheat (van Hall, 2000). Most of the
commonly eaten cereals such as wheat contain gluten, a protein to which a high number of
individuals are allergic. Celiac disease affects the small intestines due to sensitivity to gluten
present in certain cereals including wheat, wheat starch, rye, barley, triticale, and probably
oats, and the only effective treatment is strict adherence to a 100% gluten-free diet for life
(Caperuto et al., 2000). The uses and potential uses of sweet potato in human nutrition have
been discussed extensively elsewhere by Bovell-Benjamin (2007). However, it should be
noted that although the roots are usually eaten, young leaves and the tips of vines have also
been utilized in human and animal feed systems.
The nutritional value of sweet potato is shown in Table 3 and has been discussed
extensively elsewhere by Bovell-Benjamin (2007). Overall, most varieties of sweet potato are
good sources of vitamins C and E, anthocyanins, dietary fiber, potassium and other minerals.
Sweet potatoes are low-fat foods. Orange-, red- and purple-fleshed sweet potatoes are rich
sources of β-carotene, the vitamin A precursor and anthocyanins. The leaves, which are eaten
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 197

as a green vegetable in some countries, are rich sources of protein, β-carotene, the B vitamins
and ascorbic acid (Figure 2).  

Table 2. List of some value-added products made from sweet potato by


George Washington Carver
 
Food Products Non-Food Products
  Flour Stains

Starch Dyes

Sugar Paints

Molasses Medicine

Mock coconut Library Paste

Tapioca Alcohol

Vinegar Rubber Compound

Egg yolk Writing Ink

Candy, 14 varieties Shoe Blacking

Chocolate Fillers for Wood

Dried Potatoes #1 and #2 Synthetic Cotton

Dry Paste Synthetic Silk

Potato Nibs Paper (from vines)

Bisque Powder

Breakfast Food

Meal

After Dinner Mints

Yeast

Coffee, dry

Instant Coffee

Granulated Potatoes

Lemon Drops
 

Sweet potato leaves are also a rich source of dietary lutein with higher levels than
cruciferous leafy vegetables (Menelaou et al., 2006). The nutritional value of sweet potato
leaves are discussed elsewhere (Islam, 2006). Ideally, fresh sweet potatoes should be stored in
a dry, dark, cool, well-ventilated place outside the refrigerator at 13ºC and low humidity. In
this environment, they can be stored for three to four weeks. Producers in countries such as
Japan and the U.S. store sweet potatoes in refrigerators at 13 to 15ºC with 80% relative
humidity (Ramirez, 2008). Under these conditions, they can be stored for four to six months.
198 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

Table 3. Nutritional value of the sweet potato (values per 100 g edible portion)

Nutrient Sweet potato (raw) Baked in skin Boiled without skin


Water (g) 72.8 72.8 72.8
Energy (kcal, kj) 105, 439 103, 431 105, 439
Protein (g) 1.7 1.7 1.7
Total lipid (g) 0.3 0.1 0.3
Carbohydrate (g) 24.3 24.3 24.3
Dietary fiber, total (g) 3.0 3.0 1.8
Ash (g) 1.0 1.1 1.0
Calcium (mg) 22.0 28.0 21.0
Iron (mg) 0.6 0.5 0.6
Magnesium (mg) 10.0 20.0 10.0
Phosphorous (mg) 28.0 55.0 27.0
Potassium (mg) 204 348 184
Sodium (mg) 13.0 10.0 13.0
Zinc (mg) 0.3 0.3 0.3
Copper (mg) 0.2 0.2 0.2
Manganese (mg) 0.4 0.6 0.3
Selenium (µg) 0.6 0.7 0.7
Vitamin C (mg) 22.7 24.6 17.1
Thiamin, B1 (mg) 0.1 0.1 0.1
Riboflavin B2 (mg) 0.1 0.1 0.1
Niacin B3 (mg) 0.7 0.6 0.6
Pantothenic acid (mg) 0.6 0.6 0.5
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.3 0.2 0.2
Folate (µg) 14.0 23.0 11.0
Vitamin B12 (µg) 0.0 0.0 0.0
Vitamin A (IU) 20,063 21,822 17,054
Vitamin A (µg-RE) 2,006 2,182 1,705
Vitamin E (mg-ATE) 0.3 0.3 0.3
United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service Nutrient Database for Standard
Reference, Release 14, 2001.

The biochemical aspects of sweet potato have been extensively discussed elsewhere
(Bovell-Benjamin, 2007). Three types of color pigments in the sweet potato roots, namely,
anthocyanin, carotenoids and unidentified flavonoids have been shown to have important
physiological functions in humans, such as anti-oxidation, anti-cancer and protection against
liver injury. Purple-flesh sweet potato compared favorably with blueberries in terms of its
antioxidant activity, anthocyanin and phenolic contents (Cevallos-Casals and Cisneros-
Zevallos, 2002). Sweet potatoes with purple-flesh have highly stable pigments, which could
be useful as natural colorants in industry (Cevallos-Casals and Cisneros-Zevallos, 2002).
Sweet potato peels (SPP) is an emerging new source of fiber, which could be potentially
useful for making fiber-enriched breads, while lessening the intrinsic problems associated
with the use of fibers. The preparation and characterization of SPP for use as a dietary fiber
supplement in space foods was reported elsewhere (Bovell-Benjamin et al., 2007).
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 199

Figure 1. Sweet potato value-added products (Namanda et al., 2005).


200 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

Figure 2. Nutritional Content of Sweet Potato Leaves (FAO, 1990).

The dietary fiber in dehydrated SPP comprises 33.7% of the dry matter (Bovell-Benjamin
et al., 2007). SPP fiber is mainly insoluble, but it also contains roughly 11% functional fiber.
Bovell-Benjamin et al., (2007) also reported desirable water- and oil-holding capacity of SPP
making it a potentially good source of dietary fiber for enhancement of space foods.
Bovell-Benjamin et al. (2008) later incorporated SPP in hard red spring wheat (HRSW)
bread and investigated its impact on bread quality. Breads were formulated using
blanched/dehydrated SPP (BDSPPB) and dehydrated SPP (DSPPB). Proximate composition,
dietary fiber, β-carotene, thiamine, loaf volume, color and consumer acceptance of the breads
were evaluated. Moisture content was significantly (P<0.05) higher in the BDSPPB than the
DSPPB and control (wheat) bread. The BDSPPB contained two times more total dietary fiber
than the control. Soluble fiber (SF) in BDSPPB and DSPPB was threefold that of the control
bread. From the results, it could be concluded that the addition of SPP as a source of fiber to
HRSW bread is a feasible option. The ash, β-carotene and fiber contents of the supplemented
breads were significantly higher than that of the control (wheat) bread. The breads
supplemented with SPP had SF/IF (insoluble fiber) ratio within the range suggested for a
suitable source to be used as food ingredients. The color and aroma of the test breads were
equally well-liked by consumers and the loaf volume was acceptable. The dietary fiber
composition of the breads revealed that SPP might have a potential usage as a fiber-enriching
agent in bread making for consumers. The biochemical, nutritional and functional properties
of sweet potato makes it a potentially good candidate for reducing the global food insecurity,
vitamin A deficiency and improving nutritional status worldwide especially in developing
countries.

SWEET POTATOES IN HUMAN HEALTH


Background

Research regarding the utilization of sweet potatoes in human health systems has focused
mostly on its anti-diabetic and antioxidant properties. Therefore, this section of the paper
focuses primarily on the potential usefulness of the sweet potato as an anti-diabetic food in
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 201

human health systems. In humans, insulin is the major hormone which regulates uptake of
glucose into most cells from the blood. Usually, insulin is released into the blood by β-cells in
the pancreas in response to rising blood glucose levels after meals. However, type 2 diabetes
(T2D) or non-insulin dependent diabetes (NIDDM) is characterized by insulin resistance and
impaired insulin secretion from the pancreas. In insulin resistance, endogenous glucose
production and/or the disposal of glucose into the skeletal muscles are impaired (Stumvoll et
al., 2005). The foregoing situations result in increased concentrations of insulin in the blood,
which may consequently damage many of the body‘s systems (Miyazaki et al., 2005).

Prevalence of Diabetes

In 2007, roughly 246 million people worldwide had diabetes (www.eatlas.idf.org). The
global prevalence of diabetes among adults is estimated to be 6.4% by 2030, representing 39
and 60% increases from 2000 and 1995, respectively (Lipscombe, 2007). On the basis of
demographic change, the total number of persons with diabetes was projected to rise from
171 million in 2000 to 366 million in 2030 (Wild et al., 2004). It is predicted that the greatest
relative increases in the number of individuals with diabetes will occur in sub-Saharan Africa,
India and the Middle Eastern Crescent, while the largest absolute increase will occur in India
(Wild et al., 2004). In addition, China, the U.S., Indonesia, Pakistan and Brazil are among the
top 10 countries with the highest numbers of estimated cases of diabetes for 2030 (Wild et al.,
2004). These estimates indicate that diabetes is a growing public health burden in developing
countries such as India, Indonesia, sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil.

Consequences of Diabetes

Diabetes, a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, is also one of the leading causes
of blindness, renal failure, amputations and stroke (Lipscombe, 2007). Other complications of
diabetes, which result in increasing disability and reduced life expectancy, include diabetic
neuropathy, increased susceptibility to infection, disturbed wound healing, coronary artery
and peripheral vascular disease (Miyazaki et al., 2005; www.eatlas.idf.org). According to
Wild et al. (2004), Yach et al. (2006) and Lipscombe (2007), the human and economic costs
of diabetes are colossal, with the direct healthcare costs of diabetes ranging from 2.5 to 15%
of health budgets. This is of particular concern, especially for developing countries, which are
unprepared economically and otherwise, to deal with the rising burden of the emerging
diabetes epidemic. There is an urgent need for collaborative, global prevention, control and
management strategies to address the emerging diabetes epidemic.

Sweet Potato, Diabetes Prevention and Management

Strategies, which have been proposed and used for the prevention and management of
T2D include : (i) dietary modifications, (ii) increased physical activity and (iii) medications
such as oral hypoglycemic agents (Richter et al., 2000; Kumar et al., 2007). New compounds,
which increase insulin sensitivity are also being currently used and/or investigated (Ludvik et
202 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

al., 2004). With the consistent increase of diabetes worldwide, attention has been focused on
evaluating the effectiveness of natural and nutraceutical products for use in its prevention,
control and management (Sotaniemi et al., 1995; Vuksan et al., 2000; Hosoda et al., 2003;
Egede et al., 2002). For example, green tea has been studied for its protective role against
T2D. Middle-aged Japanese men and women who reported daily consumption of more than 6
and 3 cups of tea and coffee had 33 and 42% , respectively, lower risk for T2D over a 5-year
period compared to those who did not consume these beverages (Crespy and Williamson,
2004). Tsuneki et al. (2004) reported improved glucose tolerance when they fed 1.5 g green
tea powder in hot water to young healthy volunteers. Contrastingly, in a study of Japanese
men (N = 3,224), no relationship was observed between glucose tolerance and green tea
(Yamaji et al., 2004). Although uses of various natural products have been documented, there
is limited evidence of systematic investigations showing the efficacy of nutraceutical
compounds in T2D prevention and management (Yeh et al., 2003).
Recent animal and human studies have indicated that the sweet potato plays a role in
stabilizing blood glucose and lowering insulin resistance. A Japanese white sweet potato
extract called Caiapo has been associated with T2D prevention and management. Caiapo is
made from the extract of the skin of the root from a variety of white-skinned sweet potato,
which has been eaten raw in Japan for treatment of diabetes, anemia and hypertension. It is
really the acidic glycoprotein component which is isolated in Japanese sweet potato cultivars,
which is similar to the proteins found in Beauregard sweet potatoes. In a randomized study,
18 males with T2D who consumed 4 g/day of Caiapo as a dietary supplement for six weeks
had lower blood glucose levels, and total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels
(Ludvik et al., 2002). To verify the findings of Ludvik et al. (2002), 61 patients with T2D
(treated with diet only) participated in a randomized, Placebo -controlled, double blind,
follow-up trial (Ludvik et al., 2004). A Placebo is an inactive substance or treatment that
looks the same as, and is given the same way as, an active drug or treatment being tested. The
effects of the active drug or treatment are compared to the effects of the placebo. The patients
consumed 4 g of Caiapo or a Placebo daily for 12 weeks; and blood glucose and HbA1c,
which is a measure of long-term glucose control, were observed. Blood glucose, cholesterol
and HbA1c levels were significantly lower (P<0.03, P<0.05, P<0.001, respectively) in the
Caiapo group than those in the placebo group. Ludvik et al. (2004) concluded that Caiapo
promotes T2D management. In another study, McClelland et al. (2007) examined the
glycemic index (GI) of sweet potato. Forty individuals, 20 with T2D and 20 without,
consumed 50 g carbohydrate from either glucose; dehydrated White Star or Beauregard sweet
potato cultivars, after which the change in blood glucose and insulin were measured at 0, 1
and 2h and 0 and 2 h, respectively. The results indicated that the GI of White Star was 44.2
and 28.5 in non-diabetic and diabetic individuals, respectively. For Beauregard, the GI was
32.1 and 30.3 in non-diabetic and diabetic individuals, respectively. It was concluded that
consumption of sweet potato lowered blood glucose in individuals with T2D.
Another prospective, Placebo-controlled, double blind trial randomized 18 males with
T2D to three groups (Ludvik et al., 2003). The men consumed either a placebo, a low dose (2
g) or a high dose (4 g) of Caiapo three times per day for six weeks. Glucose tolerance,
glucose disappearance, and insulin secretion were evaluated. The group fed the high dose
Caiapo, had a significant (P<0.05) reduction in plasma glucose concentration in the
frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test (FSIGT). The males in the low- and
high-dose Caiapo groups exhibited 37 and 42% increased insulin sensitivity. Overall, glucose
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 203

tolerance was improved by 72% in the high dose Caiapo group. The authors concluded that
Caiapo could potentially play a role in the treatment of T2D.
Miyazaki et al. (2005) investigated whether the antidiabetic ingredients of white-skinned
sweet potato influences the immune response of human leukocytes. Their (Miyazaki et al.,
2005) results indicated that the antidiabetic ingredients of white-skinned sweet potato
increased phagocytic activity, phagosome-lysosome fusion in neutrophils and monocytes in a
dose-dependent manner in vitro. On the basis of their findings, Miyazaki et al. (2005)
concluded that the antidiabetic ingredients from white-skinned sweet potato are useful in the
prevention and improvement of diabetic symptoms such as susceptibility to infection and
disturbed wound healing. Furthermore, the researchers stated that the white-skinned sweet
potato may be a beneficial non-pharmacologic therapy for T2D because it enhances immune
activity and has antidiabetic properties as well.
The GI is a useful tool in the prevention and management of diabetes by stabilizing blood
glucose levels and increasing glucose tolerance. It describes the difference in carbohydrates
by ranking them according to their effect on blood glucose levels (Brouns et al., 2005). The
sweet potato has been recently identified as a low GI food. Our laboratory investigated the
effect of a sweet potato starch syrup on selected metabolic responses of Zucker fatty (fa/fa)
rats. Oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) were done on rats using a glucose standard; a maple
syrup; a corn syrup; and a sweet potato starch syrup and the GI values determined. Rats fed
the sweet potato starch syrup had the lowest GI value (66.1±19.1) compared to the corn and
maple syrups. In this study, the sweet potato starch syrup was classified as an intermediate-GI
food while the corn and maple syrups were assigned high-GI values. After a five-week
dietary trial, weight gain, blood glucose concentrations, high density lipoproteins (HDL),
LDL, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels of the rats‘ were compared. Zucker fatty (fa/fa)
rats‘ fed the diet supplemented with sweet potato starch syrup had significantly (p<0.05)
lower triglyceride levels and higher HDL levels than those fed corn syrup and a glucose
standard. Corbitt (2007) also investigated the short term glycemic effects of sweet potato in
non-diabetic individuals. Beauregard variety sweet potato showed a low-GI value. Overall,
the researcher concluded that if the GI of sweet potato processed by different methods
remained low (<55), sweet potato may be useful in the control of blood glucose levels.

SWEET POTATO AND OTHER BIOACTIVE PHYTOCHEMICALS


In addition to its antidiabetic properties, sweet potato has potentially bioactive
phytochemicals, such as chlorogenic acids (Zheng and Clifford, 2008). In vitro studies have
shown that chlorogenic acids inhibit Na+ - dependent D-glucose uptake in rat intestinal brush
border membrane vesicles (Welsch et al., 1989). Chlorogenic acids in coffee have also been
shown to modify gastrointestinal hormone secretion and glucose tolerance in humans
(Johnston et al., 2003). Zheng and Clifford (2008) analyzed the leaves, stem and roots of
sweet potato grown in China for chlorogenic acids. The stem and leaves of the sweet potato
contained a range of chlorogenic acids, but none were detected in the roots.
Antioxidants, which are present in high levels in the sweet potato, have been inversely
associated with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. The improvement of insulin
sensitivity with antioxidants in insulin resistant or diabetic subjects has been demonstrated by
204 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

several clinical trials (Hirai et al., 2000; Hirashima et al., 2000)[5] O. Hirashima, H. Kawano
and T. Motoyama et al., Improvement of endothelial function and insulin sensitivity with
vitamin C in patients with coronary spastic angina: possible role of reactive oxygen species, J
Am Coll Cardiol 35 (2000), pp. 1860–1866. Article | PDF (227 K) | View Record in Scopus |
Cited By in Scopus (47). It has been very well established that some orange-fleshed sweet
potato varieties contain significant amounts of the antioxidant β-carotene. Ingelsson et al.
(2005) have suggested that antioxidants such as β-carotene lower the levels of free radicals
that play a role in the mediation of oxidative stress and inflammation. Armlöv et al. (2005)
followed a cohort and confirmed that serum levels of β-carotene predicted left ventricular
diastolic dysfunction twenty years later. Ingelsson et al. (2005) reported that low serum levels
of antioxidants such as β-carotene; predict a higher risk of developing heart failure,
independent of established risk factors.
Other experimental work in regard to the importance of the sweet potato in human health
has been done. Sweet potato leaves is rich in lutein, which is not synthesized in the body.
Lutein has the capability to delay the onset of macular degeneration, a major cause of
blindness in the world (Bernstein et al., 2004). Sweet potato leaves, which contain high
amounts of polyphenolics are protective against diseases linked to oxidation such as cancer,
hepatotoxicity, allergies, aging, human immunodeficiency virus and cardiovascular disease
(Islam, 2006). Furuta et al. (1998) has demonstrated that antioxidative and radical scavenging
activities are observed in all sweet potato varieties with white, yellow, orange and purple
flesh. Sweet potato has been associated with reduced liver injury caused by carbon
tetrachloride in animal models (Suda et al., 1997). Juice from purple-fleshed sweet potato has
been shown to effectively lower blood pressure in humans (Suda et al., 1998). According to
Yoshimoto et al. (1999), purple-fleshed sweet potato roots have antimutagenic properties.
Mutagens, found in foods, are considered to be risk factors for cancer. Based on its β-carotene
content, there is a potential role for sweet potato in cancer prevention and risk reduction.

Sweet Potato and Vitamin A Deficiency

More than 230 million of the world‘s children, mostly those in developing countries,
have inadequate vitamin A intake, with 13 million of them being affected by night blindness
(Schweigert et al., 2003; Stephenson et al., 2000; Underwood and Arthur, 1996). Children in
south Asia and Africa are mostly affected by vitamin A deficiency (Mason et al., 2001). The
potential role of sweet potato in the prevention of vitamin A deficiency cannot be overlooked.
Although sweet potato does not contain vitamin A, it contains precursors or pro-vitamin A (β-
carotene and other carotenoids), which the human body converts to vitamin A. In Kenya,
orange-fleshed sweet potatoes have been recognized as the least expensive year-round source
of pro-vitamin A (Low et al., 1997). Hagenimana et al. (1999) reported that consumption of
orange-fleshed sweet potato increased the dietary vitamin A intake in Kenyan children and
women. Low et al. (1997) indicated that consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato could
contribute substantially to reducing vitamin A deficiency in Sub-Saharan Africa. The
consumption of diets containing primarily orange-fleshed sweet potatoes as a source of β-
carotene significantly increased serum retinol (vitamin A status) levels of Indonesian children
with marginal vitamin A deficiency (Jalal et al., 1998). van Jaarsveld et al. (2005) also
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 205

concluded that increased consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato could be a feasible


food-based strategy for controlling vitamin A deficiency in children in developing countries.
Edible, low-cost vaccines from plants may provide cheap protection for some of the
poorest people in the world (Kumar et al., 2007). Hepatitis B is one of the major infectious
diseases affecting several million people in developing countries. Suda et al. (2008) examined
the effect of purple sweet potato (PSP) beverage rich in acylated anthocyanins on serum
hepatic biomarkers in healthy Japanese men. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-
controlled, parallel study involving 48 healthy men (30-60 years) with borderline hepatitis
who had serum gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), aspertate aminotransferase (AST) and
alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels over normal ranges, and negative for hepatitis virus
was conducted. The subjects were randomly assigned to either a PSP or a placebo group for
an 8-week intervention. Those in the PSP and placebo groups consumed two bottles of the
PSP beverage with acylated anthocyanins containing 200.3 and 1.7 mg anthocyanins/125 ml
per bottle daily. The PSP beverage group showed lower hepatic marker levels than the
placebo group during the ingestion period, particularly the GGT level. The intake of the PSP
beverage significantly decreased the serum levels of hepatic biomarkers, particularly the GGT
level, in healthy men with borderline hepatitis.
In sum, several studies have shown that the sweet potato has antidiabetic properties, that
is, the capability to lower blood glucose level and improve glucose tolerance. White-skinned
sweet potatoes are useful in preventing and improving diabetic symptoms and could be a
beneficial non-pharmacologic therapy for T2D. The stems and leaves of the sweet potato
contain potentially bioactive phytochemicals such as chlorogenic acids, which have been
shown to improve glucose tolerance in humans. Also, several sweet potato varieties have
been shown to have antioxidative, radical scavenging and antimutagenic properties; they have
also been associated with reduced liver injury and blood pressure lowering activity.

INDUSTRIAL UTILIZATION OF SWEET POTATO


Background

Over the years, although the full potential of the sweet potato in human and animal food
systems has not been realized, new uses for the crop, such as a source of starch and value-
added processing have been emerging. This section reviews the utilization of the sweet potato
in the starch-based industry using Japan and China as examples (Carver, 1936; Komaki and
Yamakawa, 2006). The importance of starch in food processing and non-food industry could
be attributed to its heterogeneity and versatility (Fuglie et al., 2006). For example, in the food
industry, starch is used to impart functional properties such as thickeners in soups and sauces,
dough conditioners in bread manufacturing, stabilizers in ice creams, in noodles and other
wheat-based foods, in binding and filling (Fuglie et al., 2006). It is converted to sugars and
sweeteners and is utilized in beverages and alcohol. The sweetener industry utilizes the
largest amount of the starch produced in the world (Fuglie et al., 2006). In the U.S. and
Canada, starch is used primarily to produce high-fructose syrup (HFS) for soft drinks (Fuglie
et al., 2006). Some examples of non-food industries which make use of starch include: textile,
paper, adhesive, plywood and pharmaceutical (Fuglie et al., 2006). To illustrate the
206 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

importance of sweet potato starch in non-food industries, Bendigo (1944) reported success
using it in the textile industry. Bendigo (1944) cited several advantages of using sweet potato
starch in the textile industry when compared with other starches including: (i) smaller
proportions of starch used; (ii) its especially clear color; and (iii) excellent penetration.
Traditionally, most starches are derived from maize, cassava, potato and wheat. Roughly
70% of the world starch production is derived from maize (Fuglie et al., 2006). In the U.S.,
Canada and Mexico, maize accounts for 98% of the starch produced and is also the least
expensive source in these countries (Fuglie et al., 2006). The major contributors to starch
production in Europe are maize, wheat and potato (LMC International, 2002). In developing
countries, root crops are relatively more important as sources of starch than cereal crops,
which are usually too expensive. Overall, in Asia maize accounts for approximately 45% of
all starch production (Fuglie et al., 2006). In Southeast and South Asia, 90% of the starch is
produced from the cassava (Fuglie, 2004). In China, Japan and Korea, there is a high demand
for starch from root and tuber crops because of the special traits associated with these (Fuglie
et al., 2006). According to Fuglie et al. (2006), root and tuber crops supplied more than 50%
of Asia‘s starch needs with 23.5% coming from the sweet potato.
The starch potential and quality of the sweet potato has been extensively discussed
elsewhere (Bovell-Benjamin, 2007; Moorthy and Shanavas, Chapter 4 in this book). To
briefly summarize, starch is the basic reserve polysaccharide of plants consisting of two
polymers of glucose; linear amylase and branched amylopectin. Starch is the major
carbohydrate (ranging from 73.7 to 90%) in the roots of the sweet potato (Miller, 2003;
Zaidul et al., 2008; Garcia and Walter, 1998; Lu and Sheng, 1990). Brabet et al. (1998) and
Miller (2003) reported average total starch contents of 61.5 and 81% on dry weight basis for
sweet potato starch. This attribute makes starch processing from sweet potato a highly
feasible option, which could increase economic and employment activities for farmers and
rural households in developing countries where most sweet potato is produced.

SWEET POTATO, STARCH AND INDUSTRY


Sweet potato is one of the most important starch-producing crops in the world (Katayama
et al., 2006). Starch, the most commonly processed product of sweet potato roots is produced
at household, small- and large-scale industry (Piyachomkwan et al., 2004). In Japan, sweet
potatoes have been utilized in starch production for several years. The annual yield of sweet
potatoes for starch production in the southern part of Japan is roughly 2.1 x 105 tons (Yokoi et
al., 2001). It is estimated that in Japan, 20 to 58% of the sweet potato produced is used for
starch processing (Kitahara et al., 2007; Fuglie et al., 2006). Most of the sweet potato starch
used in Japan‘s food industry is in the production of syrup or glucose, in alcohol production,
in starchy noodles, and in traditional confectioneries such as gelatinized cakes (Kitahara et
al., 2007).
Additionally, sweet potato starch pulp has been used as a raw material for the citric acid
manufacturing industry in Japan, however, its use has sharply declined, and it is treated as
waste material. Research is continuing to find alternative uses for sweet potato starch pulp.
For example, Hayao and Jun (2002) investigated the functionality of sweet potato starch pulp
and evaluated the value as food materials. Their results indicated that the sweet potato starch
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 207

pulp contains a functional ingredient with antioxidant capability. It was further indicated that
the antioxidant capability is enhanced if dried starch pulp is heat-treated for at least one hour.
In China, the biggest processed products from sweet potato are starch, which are mostly
processed into starch noodle, one of its traditional foods. Sweet potato starch processing has
developed into a profitable industry in China (Fuglie et al., 2006). In 1997, 74% of sweet
potato production in China was being used by starch industries or for animal feed (Huang et
al., 2003). Over the past 10 years, there has been a sharp growth in the noodle industry in
China and the sweet potato starch is used mainly in the production of these (Fuglie et al.,
2006). The sweet potato starch also has other industrial applications in China such as: in the
production of sweeteners, citric acid, beverage, industrial alcohol, ethanol fuel and derived
products as maltose (Lu et al., 2006). Over 10% of the annual production of 100 million tons
of sweet potatoes in China is processed into starch, mostly in small-scale enterprises using
manual or simple mechanized equipment (Wheatley et al., 1997). Overall, developing
countries continue to have a strong incentive to make starch from the sweet potato as a means
to decrease the need for imported materials and, thus, conserve monetary resources for use
within the country itself.

Emerging Applications of Sweet Potato Starch

Increasing demands from consumers regarding environmental issues, their preference for
natural rather than synthetic products, and the search for alternatives have created more
interest in starch-derived products. Research continues to focus on starch-derived products for
use as surfactants and builders, sequestering agents and bleaching boosters (Leygue, 1993).
For example, the detergent industry in the United Kingdom is potentially a large market for
industrial starch (Entwistle et al., 1998). Additionally, there is increased interest to utilize
starch for alcohol production because the global energy crisis has created the need for
renewable energy sources (Hosein and Mellowes, 1989; Debnath et al., 1990). Starch is
renewable and globally available (Yu et al., 1996). Also, as pointed out more than two
decades ago, sweet potato also has potential as a biomass crop because of its high starch
production per unit area (Dangler et al., 1984). After investigating the potential of five sweet
potato cultivars for biomass production, especially starch, Dangler et al. (1984) reported that
ethanol potential from the GaTG-3 sweet potato cultivar compared favorably with that of
irrigated North Florida corn. Yu et al. (1996) reported alcohol fermentation from the
saccharified mash of dried sweet potato with its dregs. Hosein and Mellowes (1989)
hydrolyzed sweet potato for ethanol production.
The digestibility of sweet potato starch and the degree of its effect upon the digestion of
dietary protein were compared with those of corn and potato starches (Yoshida and
Morimoto, 1955). Adult white rats were fed diets containing one of these starches as the sole
source of carbohydrate. The coefficients of digestibility of corn, sweet potato and potato
starch were found to be 99, 97 and 57%, respectively. When the diets were steamed, all
starches were utilized nearly perfectly and no significant differences were observed. Raw
sweet potato starch caused diarrhea and markedly decreased the apparent digestibility of
dietary protein. However, this effect was decreased when sweet potato starch was purified,
and disappeared when it was steamed. Studies are being conducted in Japan to utilize the
waste from sweet potato starch production into biodegradable plastics; and to recycle waste
208 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

from distilled liquor as livestock feed, manure, biodegradable farming materials and human
food (Pawlak et al., 2002; Yamakawa and Yoshimoto, 2002).
Sweet potato starch microparticles have been investigated for its usefulness in drug
delivery applications. The in vitro drug release behavior of sweet potato starch microparticles
intended for controlled drug delivery applications has been studied (Liu et al., 2007).
Diclofenac sodium was used as the model drug candidate. Sweet potato starch microparticles
were prepared using a spray-drying technique by varying the polymer concentration and drug
loading. The encapsulation efficiencies of sweet potato starch microparticles formulations
was between 95 to 98%, suggesting good encapsulating ability of the sweet potato starch
polymer by spray drying.

POTENTIAL FOR SWEET POTATO IN ANIMAL FEED SYSTEMS


Background

Sweet potato is among one of the five most important food crops in developing countries
(Phuc et al., 2001). The use of the sweet potato as a feed supplement for animals is an old
concept, which has been documented as early as the 1920‘s by the Queensland Department of
Agriculture and Stock in Australia. It should be noted that in some parts of the world while
sweet potato is an important staple food for humans, others produce it primarily for use as
animal feed. For example, in countries such as China, sweet potato is now an important
component of animal feed. Over the last three or more decades, with the economic
developments and policy reforms in China, the role of sweet potato has shifted. By the 1970s,
China was utilizing 50% of the sweet potato produced in the animal feed system, rather than
for direct human consumption (Huang et. al., 2003; Woolfe, 1992). However, by the end of
the 1990s, human consumption decreased to less than 15%, as most of the crop was being
utilized for animal feed and industrial purposes (Huang et al., 2003; Zhang and Li Xiu- Qing,
2004). Despite the changing human consumption patterns of sweet potato in China, it is still
an important staple food in some poor, rural areas of China (Wu et al., 2008). Most of the
sweet potatoes grown in Australia in the 1920s were utilized as feed supplements for cattle
and pigs. In the U.S. and Japan, 10 and 25% of sweet potato roots are used as cattle feed,
respectively (Ramirez, 2008). In general, wherever the sweet potato is grown, some part of
the plant is used in animal production.
In most developed and developing countries where the sweet potato is grown, the foliage
has been largely considered as waste material rather than a useful, formal component for
incorporation into animal feed systems (Ruiz et al., 1980). However, with the increasing
prevalence of poor quality grasses, climate changes, lack of suitable home-grown feed
resources, rising energy costs, the high cost of commercial feeds with imported ingredients to
resource-poor farmers in developing countries and other constraints to enhanced animal
production (An et al., 2004), the need for alternate animal feed resources has become critical.
Another factor, which has increased the demand for feed intended for animals and
aquaculture fish, is the higher request for animal products by the emerging middle-class in
countries such as India and China (Eide, 2008). Moreover, the use of grains such as maize for
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 209

liquid bio-fuel as an alternative to gasoline and diesel derived from petroleum has brought
into sharp focus the value of utilizing alternatives in human and animal feed systems.
Liquid bio-fuel is mainly produced as ethanol or bio-diesel. The feedstock for ethanol is
primarily sugarcane and maize; to a lesser extent wheat, sugar beet and cassava (Eide, 2008).
The main producers and consumers of bio-fuels and bio-diesels are Brazil, U.S. and the
European Union (EU). However, the U.S. and the EU cannot meet their target of production
for internal consumption and will become increasingly dependent on import from developing
countries (Eide, 2008). It is hypothesized that as the use of traditional feedstock continues to
become more competitive for bio-fuel production, the need for novel, alternative animal
feedstock will increase and become more commercially viable. Ideally, the sweet potato is a
highly efficient, multi-purpose crop (leaves, vines and roots could be utilized by both human
and animals), which can become much more useful as one of the solutions to the
aforementioned problems. The following section is intended to highlight the literature
regarding the potential usefulness of the sweet potato in animal feed systems. It gives an
overview of sweet potato use in animal production and describes a series of studies, which
utilized the sweet potato in animal feed systems.

Overview of Sweet Potato Use in Animal Feed Systems

In Asia, roots for pigs and vines for cattle are the most commonly cited forms of sweet
potato utilization as animal feed in Asia (Table 4). In general, limited quantities of composite
feeds are produced industrially. In China, parts of Indonesia (Irian Jaya), Papua New Guinea
and Vietnam fresh roots are fed to pigs (Table 4). In Korea, these fresh roots include culls left
from sales to the market (Chin, 1989), while in Papua New Guinea, pigs will forage for roots
or culls left in the field (Kanua and Rangat, 1989). There is limited information about the use
of sweet potato for animal feed in Africa, suggesting that the roots are used primarily for
human consumption. In the African countries, the vines and foliage are not widely utilized;
this is because they are mostly used in human diets and in the field to improve soil fertility.
The vines and foliage are fed mostly to cattle in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, the Dominican
Republic and Peru. Vines and foliage are fed to pigs and rabbits in Peru and to goats in
Ecuador.

Sweet Potato Foliage

Pig Feed
Although some studies have been undertaken in developing countries to determine and
improve the usefulness of sweet potato leaves (SPL) and vines in animal feed systems and it
is generally believed that a large potential exists for their utilization, documented information
and widespread usage remain scarce. Much more research is needed regarding alternative raw
materials and by-products for use in animal feed systems to reduce the substantial feed
expenses faced by resource-poor farmers, especially those in developing countries. The need
for more research in this area is even more urgent because the projected growth in demand for
sweet potato is expected to occur in the market for animal feed (Fuglie and Oates, 2003).
210 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

Table 4. Sweet potato use as animal feed

Region Part Plant Form Animal(s) Fed


ASIA
Bangladesh Vines Green Cattle
China Roots Sliced, dried, ground, Mainly pigs but also
Vines cooked cattle, poultry
Green, from ensilage Mainly pigs but also
Waste from processing cattle, poultry
starch, noodles Waste water Pigs
India Roots
Vines Sun-dried chips Pigs
Green or after ensilage Cattle
Indonesia (Java) Roots, culs, vines Fresh
(Irian Jaya) Roots Fresh Cattle
Papua New Guinea Roots Fresh, stored Pigs
Leaves, vines Green Pigs
Philippines Roots Cooked, dried chips, Pigs
composite feed Pigs mainly, poultry
Taiwan Vines Unknown
Vietnam Roots Sliced, dried Pigs
Roots Fresh, sliced and dried Pigs
Unknown Pigs
Vines Pigs
AFRICA
Egypt Vines Green fodder Cattle
Kenya Vines Green fodder Cattle, pigs
Mozambique Vines Green fodder Small animals
Rwanda Damaged roots, vines Fresh Livestock
Uganda Surplus roots, vines Fresh Livestock, pigs, fish
LATIN AMERICA
Argentina Roots, vines Fresh Cattle
Brazil Roots, vines Fresh Dairy and beef cattle,
fish
Ecuador Roots Fresh Pigs, goats, beef cattle
Vines Green fodder Beef, cattle, goats
Dominican Republic Roots Fresh Pigs
Vines Green, ground Cattle
Haiti Culls, roots Fresh Pigs
Jamaica Roots Fresh Pigs
Vines Fresh Pigs, other farm
animals, cattle
Peru Roots Fresh Cattle, pigs, rabbits
Vines Fresh Dairy cattle and
ruminants
Venezuela Roots, vines Fresh Livestock

Sweet potato could substitute for maize in animal feedstock mainly for pig, cattle and
small ruminants. For the purposes of this chapter, sweet potato vine includes the leaf and stem
and the foliage refers to the vine. The crude protein content of sweet potato foliage is between
68 and 131g/ kg dry matter (Larbi et al., 2007). The roots provide energy derived from starch,
while the leaves are rich sources of protein (260 to 330 g/ kg) and fiber (Woolfe, 1992).
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 211

Lysine is the first limiting amino acid in SPL, however, when growing pigs‘ diets were
supplemented with SPL and synthetic lysine, their daily live-weight gains of 536 g were
similar to those fed a control diet with fish meal as the protein source (An, 2004).
An (2004) evaluated the potential of using SPL as a protein source in the diets for
growing pigs. The crude protein content of the SPL was 25.5 to 29.8% in dry matter. The
researcher further stated that the dry matter, organic matter and crude protein of ensiled SPL
was highly digestible in growing pigs, but that of crude fiber was low. An (2004) concluded
that SPL can be used fresh, dried or as silage, and can replace fish meal and groundnut cake
as a protein source for growing pigs under small farm conditions in central Vietnam.
Malavanh and Preston (2006) investigated the intake and digestibility in growing pigs fed
different levels of SPL and water spinach as supplements to a mixture of rice bran and
cassava root meal. Male pigs were fed ad libitum ratios of SPL and water spinach of 100:0,
75:25 and 50:50 (dry matter basis). The cassava root meal and rice bran (50:50 mixture) was
2% (dry matter basis) of live weight. Increasing the level of water spinach did not affect total
dry matter intake, the coefficients of apparent digestibility of dry matter, organic matter,
nitrogen and crude fiber or the retention of nitrogen. It was concluded that water spinach and
SPL appear to have the same nutritive value when used to supplement a basal diet of cassava
root meal and rice bran for growing pigs.
Sweet potato vines (SPV) are used extensively in countries such as China, Peru and
Indonesia for pig and dairy cattle feed (Achata et al., 1988). Ty et al. (2007) studied the effect
of fresh SPV and mulberry leaves (given separately or mixed together) on intake, digestibility
and nitrogen retention of growing pigs with a basal diet of broken rice. The intakes of the
foliages accounted for 21 to 28% of the total dry matter and approximately 55% of the crude
protein. Foliage dry matter intakes were higher when the SPV were all or part of the foliage
supplement. The apparent digestibility coefficients of the dry matter and crude protein were
higher for the mulberry diet than those, which contained SPV. The researchers concluded that
the protein in the fresh foliage of mulberry leaves is well utilized by growing pigs fed a basal
diet of broken rice. There were no advantages from giving a mixture of SPV and mulberry
leaves compared with either foliage given alone.
In the Red River Delta area near Hanoi, two on-farm trials were conducted to determine
whether fermented SPV could reduce women's labor and feed processing costs, and improve
pig growth efficiency (Peters et al., 2001). First, twelve different mixtures of SPV, corn and
cassava meals, rice bran, sun-dried chicken manure and salt were fermented and analyzed for
nutritional value. There were no significant differences in nutritional value over time.
However, vines fermented with chicken manure had significantly (p<0.001) higher crude
protein, dry matter and ash contents than the other fermented treatments. The subsequent
three-month on-farm feeding trial compared fresh SPV, vines fermented with cassava meal,
and vines fermented with sun-dried chicken manure and cassava meal in terms of pig growth
and economic efficiency. Pigs fed the preparation containing chicken manure had
significantly higher (P< 0.05) growth rates than those fed fresh vines; neither of these feeds
was significantly different from the vines fermented with cassava meal in terms of feed
efficiency (P=0.013). The chicken manure preparation was also considerably cheaper (cost
per kg of weight gain) than the other two preparations.
Zuohua et al. (2001) examined the nutritional value of sweet potato roots ensiled with
various special additives and the feeding efficiency of the silage as pig feed. Machine-grated
sweet potato roots were ensiled with varying proportions of special additives A, B, C, 10%
212 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

grain stillage, and 20% wheat bran. Crude protein, true protein, crude fiber, crude fat, crude
ash, calcium and phosphorus were measured at 0, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12 and 25 weeks of ensiling. Pig-
feeding test was done on weaner and finishing pigs. Four feeds with varying proportions of
sweet potato silage to total feed were compared: 0, 20, 40 and 60% sweet potato silage. The
results indicated that the nutritional value of sweet potato silage did not differ significantly
over time except for fat content and pH value. The sweet potato ensiled for more than 9
weeks had better amino acid and nutrient contents than fresh sweet potato. The sweet potato
silage mixed with 0.32, 0.5, 0.5, 10 and 20g of special additives A, B, C, with 10% grain
stillage and 20% wheat bran, passed for grade B. Daily weight gain was 581g for 0%, 613g
for 20%, 579g for 40% and 618g for 60% for a period of 115 days of weaner- finishing pigs.
The most important finding was that growth rates could be increased with sweet potato silage,
and it can be stored for up to six months without spoilage. Storage of fresh sweet potato roots
causes decay that could be harmful to the environment. Another pig-feeding trial examined
how much sweet potato silage should be incorporated in the diet to maximize growth and
economic efficiency. The greatest efficiency for weaner pigs (20-60 kg live weight per pig)
and finishing pigs (60-90 kg live weight per pig) were both observed at the combination of
20% of sweet potato silage and 80% basal diet.

Poultry Feed
Nguyen and Ogle (2005) randomly allocated four-week old female Luong Phuong
chickens (N = 204) to four treatments and three replicates. The control diet was a mixture of
broken rice, rice bran, soybean meal and fishmeal with 16.9 % crude protein in dry matter.
The other three diets, which contained duckweed, water spinach and SPV, were given ad
libitum in separate feeders in addition to the control diet. The chickens were weighed weekly
between 4 and 16 weeks of age and feed consumption recorded daily up to 21 weeks. Total
feed dry matter, crude protein intakes and average daily weight gain were similar among
treatments. Intakes of duckweed (3.3 g/day) and SPV (2.8 g/day) were significantly (P<0.01)
higher than for water spinach (1.8 g/day). Crude protein intake from duckweed as a
proportion of total crude protein intake (9.6%) was significantly (P>0.01) higher than from
SPV (6.7%) and water spinach (5.2%). There were no differences in carcass yield, but liver
and gizzard weights on the diet with duckweed (48.3 and 50.3 g, respectively) were higher
than on the control diet (40.0 and 43.3 g, respectively). The control group had highest
abdominal fat (81.0 g), more than twice as high than on the experimental diets (P>0.001). The
dry matter, crude protein, energy contents, egg weight and egg yolk weight of the meat were
similar among treatments. The egg yolk and skin in chickens fed duckweed had the deepest
yellow color, followed by those fed the water spinach, SPV and the control diet.

Cattle Feed
Etela et al. (2008a, b) have reported that sweet potato could be utilized for livestock feed,
especially by resource-poor farmers. Bunaji and N‖Dama cows in early lactation were fed
foliage from three sweet potato cultivars, dried brewers‘ grains and cottonseed meal
supplemented with Guinea grass. The nutrient intake, milk yield and composition were
measured (Etela et al., 2008a). Sweet potato foliage had lower milk yield than the dried
brewers‘ grains and/or cottonseed meal. The metabolizable energy intakes were higher from
the sweet potato foliage than the other diets. The researchers concluded that fresh sweet
potato foliage could serve as a sustainable cost-effective supplement to improve the
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 213

nutritional quality of Guinea grass. Etela et al. (2008b) used pre-weaned crossbred calves to
further investigate the effects of sweet potato foliage from three cultivars, dried brewers‘
grains and cottonseed meal on their performance. It was concluded that the calves fed sweet
potato foliage supplement from one cultivar had better daily live weight gains versus the
others, although this was not statistically significant. The performance of calves
supplemented with sweet potato foliage was comparable to those fed dried brewers‘ grains
and cottonseed meal.
In a broader study to evaluate the forage quality and animal production potential of some
selected Kenyan sweet potato lines for inclusion in crop/livestock production systems,
Karachi (2008) studied the effect of supplementing SPV and cottonseed cake on the growth of
weaned, penned Boran calves. The basal diets were supplemented with either dried SPV or
cottonseed cake. The weaners supplemented with SPV consumed 30% more total dry matter
than those fed grass alone. The weaners supplemented with the SPV had similar growth to
those fed the cottonseed cake, therefore compounding feeds with SPV would be a feasible
alternative to the more expensive cottonseed cake.
Zebu bulls were fed chopped whole sweet potato and sugar cane forage to determine
digestibility and voluntary intake (Ffoulkes et al., 1997). The proportions were: (i) on a dry
weight basis, whole cane to sweet potato (100:0, 67:33, 33:67, 0:100); and (ii) fresh basis,
whole cane to sweet potato (100:0, 45:55, 15:85, 0:100). For the treatment with 33% sweet
potato forage, the dry matter consumption index was significantly higher, and digestible dry
matter was increased by 34%. Voluntary intake was lower on the sugar cane control diets than
in those supplemented with sweet potato. Dry matter digestibility was similar among
treatments. Ffoulkes et al. (1997) argued that although the improvement was not as dramatic
as expected, the increase in voluntary intake could be attributed to the protein and the
physical nature in the sweet potato forage serving as a by-pass nutrient and improving rumen
function.

Goat Feed
The effect of sweet potato forage and its mixtures with batiki grass on the voluntary
intake, growth and digestibility in eight goats was investigated by Aregheore (2004). Four
treatments of varying amounts of fresh sweet potato foliage to batiki grass (0:100, 50:50,
75:25, 100:0) were offered. The goats were fed on each dietary treatment for 21 days. Based
on the results, it was concluded that sweet potato forage in combination with batiki grass
could provide a cheap source of nitrogen in the diets of growing goats.

Sweet Potato Roots

Pig Feed
Onwueme and Sinha (1991) reported that sweet potato roots could be fed to livestock
fresh, as chips or as silage. A three-month pig-feeding trial compared three feeds: cooked
fresh sweet potato roots (T1), uncooked roots silage with rice bran (T2), and uncooked roots
silage with sun-dried chicken manure (T3). Daily weight gain was 552, 605 and 640 g for T1,
T2 and T3, respectively. These differences were not statistically significant perhaps because
of the small sample size (42 pigs) and large standard deviations that resulted from large
214 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

variations amongst the practices of the participating farm households, the types of pigs used,
and their variable taste for silage feed. The most important finding was that reasonable
growth rates could be achieved with uncooked feed. Cooking is labor intensive and fuel
demanding (cooking pig feed on rice husks normally takes 2 to 3 hours per day). However,
cooking in the ensiled roots decreased trypsin inhibitor, which appeared to allow farmers
subsequently to triple the number of pigs raised per cycle of 3 - 4 months.
In an earlier study conducted by Fashina-Bombata and Fanimo (1994), the effects of
dietary replacement of maize with sundried sweet potato meal on performance, carcass
characteristics and serum metabolites of 16 weaner-grower pigs were examined. The pigs
were fed 33, 67 and 100% sweet potato meal as a direct replacement for maize in a soybean-
based diet. The average daily feed intake and daily weight gain were significantly decreased
as the level of sweet potato meal increased in the diets. The 33% sweet potato meal compared
favorably with the control diet. It was concluded that the 33% sweet potato meal and not the
other two diets contributed to improved performance in the pigs. Manfredini et al. (1993)
evaluated the use of sweet potato chips in heavy pig production. The performance, carcass
characteristics and meat quality (aged ham) were measured. Three groups of castrated male
pigs (N = 75) were fed diets of maize meal and sweet potato chips (0, 20 and 40%). The sun-
cured sweet potato chips were imported from China. In terms of growth performance and feed
efficiency, all groups were similar. Pigs fed the 20 and 40% sweet potato had significantly
lower dressing percentage than those fed the maize meal. Carcass length, fat thickness or lean
meat contents and meat quality were similar for all pigs. Sensory evaluation did not reveal
any differences between the groups fed sweet potato and the control diets. Sweet potato chip
appeared to slow down the growth and rearing performances but did not impact upon carcass
composition. The researchers concluded that feeding sweet potato up to 40% to heavy pigs as
an alternative to maize meal positively impacted carcass traits and meat quality.

Ruminant and Chicken Feed


In an older study, Szylit et al. (1978) examined the use of raw and steam-pelleted sweet
potato as a starch source for ruminant and chicken diets both in vitro and in vivo. Sun-dried
sweet potato chunks were ground or steam-pelleted. The chicken‘s diets contained 16 and 4%
crude protein and crude fiber, respectively. The diets were isoenergetic and synthetic lysine
and methionine were added. The diets were fed ad libitum to the chickens. The findings
indicated that in the in vitro study, the sweet potato starches were well broken down and were
good sources of energy for rumen microbial growth. In vivo, they were completely digested
by growing chickens. In terms of the steam-pelleting, it increased starch availability and
enhanced urea utilization by rumen microflora. It also improved nitrogen retention and feed
efficiency of chicken diets. Sweet potato could be appropriate for chicken feeding and for
improving ruminant urea utilization.

Sweet Potato Peels

Rabbit Feed
Akinmutimi and Osuagwu (2008) examined the performance of weaner rabbits fed
graded levels of sweet potato peel meal in place of a maize-based diet. Five to seven-week-
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 215

old Weaner rabbits (N = 24) of equal live weight were randomly allocated to four dietary
treatments. The control diet (diet 1) was maize-based while the experimental diets contained
varying amounts of maize meal and sweet potato peels (11.1, 22.2 and 33.3% in diets 2, 3 and
4, respectively). Each diet was offered ad libitum for 56 days. Diet 2 had the highest weight
gain of 10.4 versus 8.8, 9.5 and 8.3 for diets 1, 3 and 4, respectively, and the least feed
conversion ratio. Diet 2 also had the highest values for the prime meat parts (thigh, drumstick,
shoulder, breast cut and back cut) and hematological and serum chemistry values fell within
the normal range for rabbits. When compared to the control diet, diet 2 also had the highest
value for gross margin. The authors recommended diet 2 on the basis of growth performance,
carcass characteristics, organ weights, hematological and biochemical values.
In another experiment, Akinmutimi and Anakebe (2008) investigated the performance of
20 weaner rabbits fed graded levels of yam and sweet potato peel meal in place of a maize-
based diet. The rabbits were randomly allocated to five dietary treatment groups. The control
diet (diet I) was maize-based. The test ingredients replaced maize at 20, 30, 40 and 50 % in
diets 2, 3, 4 and 5, respectively. The yam and sweet potato peel meals were combined in ratio
3:2. Each diet was offered ad libitum for 56 days. There was no significant difference
(P>0.05) for all the growth parameters considered except for feed intake. The values for feed
intake increased significantly (P<0.05) as the quantity of the test ingredients increased. The
feed conversion ratio value was highest for diet 4. Carcass characteristics values showed
significant difference for percentage dressed weight and drumstick. The percentage dressed
weight for all the treatment groups fell within the normal range of dressing percentage for
rabbits. The drumstick value was highest for diet 4. The organ weights showed no significant
difference among treatment groups except for the heart, values of which did not follow any
specific pattern that could be attributed to the effect of the test ingredients. Biochemical
values showed no significant difference except for the value of total protein; this and other
biochemical parameters (total protein, urea, creatinine and alkaline phosphatase) fall within
the normal range of biochemical indices for rabbits. Gross margin value was highest in diet 4.
The researchers recommended diet 4 based on the growth performance, carcass
characteristics, organ weights, biochemical indices and economics of the diet.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS


The biochemical, nutritional, bioactive and functional properties of the sweet potato
make it a potentially good candidate for reducing the global food insecurity, vitamin A
deficiency and improving nutritional status worldwide especially in developing countries.
Increased consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato could be a feasible food-based strategy
for controlling vitamin A deficiency in children in developing countries. Several studies have
shown that the sweet potato has the capability to lower blood glucose level and improve
glucose tolerance. White-skinned sweet potatoes are useful in preventing and improving
diabetic symptoms and could be a beneficial non-pharmacologic therapy for T2D. Also,
several sweet potato varieties have been shown to have antioxidative, radical scavenging and
antimutagenic properties; they have also been associated with reduced liver injury and blood
pressure lowering activity. Juice from purple-fleshed sweet potato has been shown to
effectively lower blood pressure in humans.
216 Adelia C. Bovell-Benjamin

The stems and leaves of the sweet potato contain potentially bioactive phytochemicals
such as chlorogenic acids, which have been shown to improve glucose tolerance in humans.
They also contain high amounts of polyphenolics, which are protective against diseases
linked to oxidation such as cancer, hepatotoxicity, allergies, aging, human immunodeficiency
virus and cardiovascular disease.
Sweet potato is an important starch-producing crop, which has developed into a
profitable industry in China for starch industries or for animal feed. Over the past decade,
there has been a sharp growth in the noodle industry in China and the sweet potato starch is
used mainly in the production of these. The sweet potato starch also has other industrial
applications in China such as: in the production of sweeteners, citric acid, beverage, industrial
alcohol, ethanol fuel and derived products as maltose. Emerging applications for sweet potato
starch-derived products include: renewable energy source, alcohol production, drug delivery
application, as a biomass crop, surfactants and builders, sequestering agents and bleaching
boosters.
Sweet potato is utilized as a source of animal feed in many parts of the world and much
research is being conducted to confirm its usefulness as such. In animal feed systems, SPL
can be used fresh, dried or as silage as a protein source for growing pigs. SPL and water
spinach appear to have the same nutritive values for growing pigs. Sweet potato forage in
combination with batiki grass could provide an inexpensive source of nitrogen in the diets of
growing goats. Sweet potato up to 40% could serve as an alternative to maize meal for heavy
pigs. Sweet potato could be appropriate for chicken feed and for improving ruminant urea
utilization. Expanded use of sweet potato as animal feed appears to be a promising prospect
for both agro-biological and socio-economic reasons. Efforts are being made towards
industrial utilization and development of new sweet potato value-added products and animal
feed systems. Increasing amounts of sweet potato are being processed into industrial starch,
alcohol, noodles and other products, especially in China. Hopefully, as the rising demand for
meat and milk continue and the search for natural, functional foods, non-pharmacological
medicines and inexpensive animal feeds continue to increase, the sweet potato will become a
useful component in human health, industry and animal feed systems.

Recommendations

Although sweet potato has been a staple in animal feed systems, their use in the
production of nutritionally balanced, manufactured, feed concentrates has not progressed as
expected. Therefore, there is need for the development of feeding systems that exploit
potentially useful non-grain food resources such as sweet potato, for the formulation of such
feed concentrates. Strategies to promote affordable commercialization of these feed
concentrates need to be put into place. There is need to expand starch production from the
sweet potato in view of its potential as a biomass crop and its renewable energy capability.
Plant breeders should consider researching new varieties to improve starch properties and
nutritional content in the sweet potato. Protein deficiency in sweet potato roots is one of the
key constraints to its utilization in animal feed systems, therefore greater research efforts are
needed to improve its efficiency. Overall, there is need for international, large scale,
multidisciplinary research to examine and improve every aspect, which could enhance sweet
potato utilization in human health, industry and animal feed systems.
Sweet Potato Utilization in Human Health, Industry and Animal Feed Systems 217

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Chapter 8

SWEET POTATO IN ANIMAL NUTRITION

Ibisime Etela
Department of Animal Science and Fisheries, University of Port Harcourt,
East-West Road, Choba, PMB 5323, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

ABSTRACT
Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) is a perennial food crop for humans who
consume the tuberous roots and tender leaves as green vegetables as dictated by the
socio-cultural setting. Besides being a good food source of energy for humans, it is also
suitable as animal feed in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where it has been able
to adapt to the environmental conditions.
Current world land area, root yield, and quantity produced are 8,996,472 ha,
13,728.69 kg/ha, and 123,509,771 tonnes compared to a meagre 3,154,247 ha, 4,090.86
kg/ha, and 12,903,597 tonnes for Africa, and the 5,465,917 ha, 19,634.35 kg/ha, and
107,319,707 tonnes for Asia, respectively. As feed, the root and vine could be consumed
fresh, dried, or in the ensiled form by livestock depending on prevailing weather
conditions and resources available to the farmer(s). Feeding strategies range from its
being used as sole diet, partial substitute for other feed ingredients or as supplement to
low quality dry-season grass or roughage. Although the utilization of the crop in chicken,
cattle, goat, pig, and sheep seems, relatively documented, its use in feeding animals such
as rabbits, other species of poultry, and micro-livestock such as grasscutter, snail, and so
on still call for research attention. For example, the forage contains crude protein (CP) of
112 to 221 g/kg dry matter (DM), neutral detergent fibre (NDF) of 336 to 506 g/kg DM,
and metabolizable energy (ME) of 7.5 to 16.4 MJ/kg DM making it capable of
contributing to adequate, sustainable and cost-effective animal nutrition.

ABBREVIATIONS
BG batiki grass;
CRM cassava root meal;


Tel: +234 703 437 8380; Fax:- NIL -; E-mail:ibetela@yahoo.com
226 Ibisime Etela

CP crude protein;
DBG dried brewers‘ grains;
DM dry matter;
ILRI International Livestock Research Institute;
MAP months after planting;
ME metabolizable energy;
NDF neutral detergent fibre;
NRCRI National Root Crops Research Institute;
SPF sweet potato forage;
SSA Sub-Saharan Africa;
WAD West African Dwarf;
WAP weeks after planting;
VITAA Vitamin A for Africa;
TIA trypsin inhibitor activity

INTRODUCTION
Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is believed to have been first domesticated about 5,000
years ago in the tropical parts of the Americas, they are now cultivated throughout tropical
and warm temperate regions and grows best at an average temperature of 24 °C (75 °F). The
crop is primarily, grown for human consumption of the starchy tuberous root, which is a
staple food source of calories and is consumed by all age groups in most tropical countries.
This is, especially, so in parts of West, Central and East Africa where the crop is widely
cultivated (Low et al., 1997; Tewe et al., 2003). The crop is propagated either by stem (tips of
vines) or root cuttings with the date of maturity varying between 2 and 9 (with an average of
4) months after planting (MAP) depending on the variety or cultivar. In most parts of the
tropics, the crop can be maintained in the ground and harvested in piecemeal for home
consumption or sold in the market. On the other hand, in the temperate regions it is often
cultivated on larger farms and usually harvested before frosts set in. In many parts of Sub-
Saharan Africa (SSA), the vines or forage of the crop has been, successfully, used as
supplement for low quality grazing or cut-and-carry (zero-grazing) fodder such as dry-season
grasses. Prominent amongst such dry-season grasses are Guinea grass or Green panic
(Panicum maximum) and Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) that are, commonly, used by
smallholder crop-livestock farmers for cows and calves. Elsewhere in Asia such as China and
Vietnam, the root as well as the forage is utilized as feed for monogastrics in sweet potato-pig
production systems, and in various forms for formulated chicken diets in Africa and other
parts of the world. Besides the use of fresh sweet potato roots and vines for feeding farm
animals, studies have also been conducted on the best options or strategies for preserving the
feed resource under farming systems that do not support harvesting the forage at regular
intervals for feeding animals as is obtainable under certain scenarios.
According to Onwueme and Sinha (1991), sweet potato roots could be chopped and fed
to livestock in the fresh form or as dried chips, while the shoots or tops (also referred to as
vines) are fed fresh or as silage too. Among the common methods adopted by resource-poor
farmers for the processing and preservation of animal feed resources are chopping of the roots
Sweet Potato in Animal Nutrition 227

and drying them as chips or of the forage then drying them as hay. The other method could be
preservation as silage since the crop possesses qualities that favour this method more such as
high water contents in the roots (30 to 60 %) and in the forage (80 to 87 %) that could make
the process of ensiling less costly in terms of less energy cost. In a study to determine the
optimum dietary levels for economic efficiency of sweet potato root and vine in both silage
and dried forms for F1 crossbred fattening pigs it was observed that, there were no differences
in terms of animal performance due to processing method while, the labor cost for processing
was higher for the dried sweet potato meal than for the sweet potato silage (An et al., 2004;
Giang et al., 2004a).
This chapter shall deal with the utilization of sweet potato in animal nutrition because it
is a crop which produces substantial quantities of crop residues that have potential good uses
yet so untapped. Sweet potato processing by-products have been identified to be of high feed
value that is similar in energy to corn or barley due to its high root starch content (Scott and
Wheatley, 1997; Fuglie et al., 2006). Nevertheless, to date, only little has been reported on
the use of the crop residues with regard to feed quality of the vines left in the field after root
harvesting and the peelings left after post-harvest processing. Such information on sweet
potato root and vine yield and quality is needed to develop strategies for optimizing its use to
reduce energy and protein deficiencies in smallholder crop-livestock systems (Larbi et al.,
2007). Furthermore, dual-purpose sweet potato cultivars (capable of producing high root and
vine yields) have high potential to reduce food insecurity and improve nutrition in crop-
livestock systems in the developing world. Thus, if we assume that about 67 kg of fodder and
33 kg of waste are produced per 100 kg of tuberous root produced, it would be easier to
appreciate the enormous feed resource from the crop that can contribute to mitigating feed
scarcity under smallholder mixed sweet potato and livestock/poultry farming systems.

CROP YIELDS AND FORAGE QUALITY OF DUAL-PURPOSE


SWEET POTATO VARIETIES
The use of sweet potato as a feed resource has since been established with its successful
utilization for feeding farm animals under certain livestock production systems around the
world. For example, either the tuberous roots or the foliage or both have been commonly used
for feeding non-ruminants and ruminants alike (Scott, 1992). Although the crop is primarily
grown for human consumption (that is, the roots and young leaves used as vegetable),
available literature suggests that the foliage as well as the tuberous roots (mostly stale and
unmarketable roots) are also suitable as dry season supplements and feed resources for
ruminant livestock (Hagenimana, 1999). Current sweet potato production statistics from
selected countries of the world highlight the potentials of the crop to ensure the attainment of
sustainable animal agriculture especially at the smallholder level (FAOSTAT, 2008). The
current production statistics of sweet potato suggests that although it is considered to be a
crop of greater importance in low-income or developing countries (such as in parts of Africa,
Asia and Latin America), its significance in the food systems of developing countries cannot
be ignored either.
Asia alone accounts for 86.9 % of sweet potato production from approximately 60.76 %
of the world‘s total land area cultivated to the crop (FAOSTAT, 2008). It is noteworthy to
228 Ibisime Etela

point out that although Africa accounts for about one-third or 35.06 % of the total world area
used for sweet potato cultivation, the output from the continent represents only a meager,
10.45 % of the total world production. In addition, Africa gave the lowest average yield of
4,090.86 kg/ha (4.09 t/ha) root yield with a range of 3,099.94 kg/ha (3.10 t/ha) for Southern
Africa to 28,411.64 kg/ha (28.41 t/ha) for Northern Africa. Thus, calling for more research to
improve the yields per hectare of land committed to the crop through the breeding of varieties
that will yield higher root yields. Such varieties should as well be able to produce high forage
yields and sweet potato by-products that would eventually be utilized for feeding livestock
without undue competition with humans for use as food (marketable roots). Ongoing global
breeding programmes such as the Vitamin A for Africa (VITAA) initiative would be able to
bridge these identified gaps if adequate attention is paid to the afore-mentioned shortfalls,
especially, in their breeding programmes for β-carotene-rich sweet potato varieties. For
example, the production statistics from Eastern and Western Africa suggest that such
approach as being proposed above would have great nutritional, social, economic, and
environmental impacts in the sub-regions.
Highlights of some results from agronomic studies published in the literature indicate the
potentials of the crop for both human food and animal feed security (Ramirez, 1992). Initial
work on 18 newly developed sweet potato genotypes at the National Root Crops Research
Institute (NRCRI) in Nigeria and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI-West
Africa) also in Nigeria identified three genotypes (TIS-87/0087; TIS-8164; TIS-
2532.OP.1.13) as the most outstanding dual-purpose genotypes with respect to their recorded
fodder and root yields and the corresponding degradation characteristics of their foliage
(Larbi et al., 2007). Reported values ranged from 3.52 to 8.14 t/ha dry matter (DM) for fodder
yields, 2.49 to 8.40 t/ha DM for root yields, 6.8 to 13.1 % for crude protein, 31.2 to 37.3 %
for neutral detergent fibre, and 70.8 to 83.4 % for potential DM rumen degradation at 20
weeks after planting (WAP). However, Gomes and Carr (2001) indicated from their
experiment that as the frequency of vine harvesting (defined as the number of harvesting)
increased, the total fresh weight of vines increased with a corresponding reduction in storage
roots yield and a remarkable stability in total biomass (vine plus storage root) yields. Such
reductions in root yields resulting from frequent vines harvest appear to negate the proposal to
feed fresh sweet potato vines to farm animals thus, necessitating studies on how to identify
the appropriate vine harvesting frequency that will result to optimum vine and root harvests.
Thus, An et al. (2003) studying the effect of harvesting interval and defoliation on yield
and chemical composition in fifteen sweet potato varieties observed that harvesting frequency
of the vines affected root production more than leaf and stem production with root yield
decreasing with decreasing harvesting interval and increasing harvesting proportion of vines.
The authors then concluded that leaf, stem and root DM yields varied greatly between
varieties and planting season suggesting that different varieties should be recommended for
different seasons. In another study to determine the effect of cutting management on yield and
quality of sweet potato forage grown for dry-season feeding of sheep in Nigeria, it was
observed that pruning at six weeks interval optimized the yield and quality of sweet potato
forage fed to West African Dwarf (WAD) sheep compared to pruning at 4 or 8 weeks
intervals and uncut plots (Olorunnisomo, 2007a). From the above studies, it is evident that to
achieve optimum crop yields the farmer needs to identify the right sweet potato variety and
adopt an appropriate forage harvesting frequency for feeding his animals to achieve
acceptable productivity without unduly sacrificing tuber yields for forage harvesting. Several
Sweet Potato in Animal Nutrition 229

studies on sweet potato forage from different regions of the world on different animal species
have reported different figures for chemical composition of the forage. All the values confirm
its suitability for utilization by animals in most sweet potato-livestock/poultry production
systems, especially, under smallholder or resource-poor crop and livestock farming systems.
The mean figures for different results of chemical composition of sweet potato forage and
roots by scientists from different economies and continents of the world are presented in
Tables 1.

Table 1. Chemical composition of sweet potato root from different workers

Nutrient content Date of harvest (days after planting)


n.a.1 n.a.2 n.a.3
Proximate composition:
Dry matter (g /kg) 891 938 191
Ash (g /kg DM) 29 40.6 16
Crude protein (g/ kg DM) 62 49.5 40
Neutral detergent fibre (g/ kg DM) n.a. 92.4 139
Acid detergent fibre (g /kg DM) n.a. 40.0 n.a.
Acid detergent lignin (g /kg DM) n.a. 3.8 n.a.
Crude fibre (g /kg DM) 26 32.6 48
Ether extract 19 11.5 n.a.
Nonstructural carbohydrates (g /kg DM) 864 867 n.a.
Energy content:
Gross energy (MJ/ kg) 16.99 17.10 n.a.
Metabolism energy (MJ/ kg) n.a. n.a. 15.6
Amino acid profile (g/ 16g N):
Arginine 3.4 n.a. n.a.
Cystine 1.7 n.a. n.a.
Glycine 4.7 n.a. n.a.
Histidine 3.1 n.a. n.a.
Isoleucine 4.2 n.a. n.a.
Leucine 5.8 n.a. n.a.
Lysine 3.7 n.a. 1.5
Methionine 1.9 n.a. 0.5
Phenylalanine 6.6 n.a. n.a.
Threonine 5.9 n.a. n.a.
Tyrosine 3.8 n.a. n.a.
Valine 5.5 n.a. n.a.
Anti-nutritional factors:
Trypsin inhibitory activity (mg trypsin/g) 19 n.a. n.a.
Phytate-phosphate (g /kg) 0.64 n.a. n.a.
Phytate-phosphorus (% of total P) 36 n.a. n.a.
Total oxalate (g /kg) 0.67 n.a. n.a.
1
Ravindran and Sivekanesan (1996).
2
Olorunnisomo (2007b).
3
Giang et al. (2004a, b).
n.a. = (data) not available.
230 Ibisime Etela

Figure 1 depicts some form of variation in crude protein and neutral detergent fibre
contents of sweet potato forage, and the yields in forage and tuberous roots with varying dates
at harvest as obtained from different studies.

Figure 1. Variations in crude protein and neutral detergent fibre contents of sweet potato forage (Figure
1a), and the yields in forage and tuberous roots (Figure 1b) with varying dates at harvest obtained from
different studies.
Sweet Potato in Animal Nutrition 231

The figure indicates that the crop is a suitable feed resource for farm animals and the
forage quality such as crude protein in the leaves or energy content in the tuberous roots differ
depending on the variety as well as the agronomic practice adopted. Another advantage of the
crop is the relatively high yield and fast rate of re-growth after pruning (between 3 and 12
weeks) compared to most multipurpose trees and shrubs or otherwise referred to as browse
plants.
Thus, differences in chemical composition as would be observed from various studies on
the crop are mostly attributable to differences in varieties used, date of harvest or stage of
growth, analytical procedures adopted, and models used for estimating such parameters as
metabolisable energy since each model is based on varying assumptions.These differences
also account, partly, for differences in animal performances as reported by several workers in
the literature. The variations notwithstanding, sweet potato forage has been described as
medium quality non-forage feed resource due to its medium protein (15-35 % CP) and is
commonly fed to pigs, chickens, and ruminants for egg, milk and meat (Devendra and Sevilla,
2002; Dung et al., 2002). The following section highlights research so far conducted on
specific animal species that signify the importance of sweetpotato crop as a feed resource for
livestock and poultry, especially, under resource-poor mixed farming systems.

SWEET POTATO FOR FEEDING NON-RUMINANTS OR MONOGASTRICS


Sweet potato root possesses the potential to offset any food/feed imbalance that could
occur in future as more and more grains such as maize or corn are diverted for feeding the
teaming human population and in the face of persistent poverty mostly in the developing
world. Although the use of the root for feeding pigs (swine) is well developed in most parts of
Asia, other parts of the developing world such as SSA are yet to fully integrate the crop into
their crop and livestock production systems. To a greater extent, it appears that most farmers
are unaware that the roots could be utilised as an ingredient for broiler chicken and rabbit
feeds. An alleged major constraint to its use in this class of animals is said to be the trypsin
inhibitor activity (TIA) with a range of between 2.2 and 5.2 mg trypsin inhibited per g
sample, depending on the variety and processing method such as temperature (Panigrahi et
al., 1996). A recent study on six sweet potato genotypes recorded mean TIA of 12.4 ± 1.23
U/mg (range: 3.9 to 21.8 U/mg) suggesting the need to select and utilize sweet potato
genotypes with lower TIA for feeding farm animals (Zhang et al., 2002). The use of sweet
potato in the diets of monogastrics in the past have, mostly, concentrated on its usage as an
alternative energy source to the conventional use of maize or corn in mixed feeds. Its use this
way will often require some form of processing such as drying that also has the advantage of
minimizing any trace of TIA.

Sweet Potato for Broilers

In Nigeria, sun-dried sweet potato roots have been successfully incorporated into the
diets of chicks. In one of such studies when it replaced up to 344.3 g of maize per kg, it was
observed that body weight, feed intake, feed conversion, nitrogen retention, mortality and
232 Ibisime Etela

relative weights of body parts at 10 weeks of age were not significantly affected compared to
the conventional control diet (Job et al., 1979). Furthermore, their study revealed that crude
protein contents of liver, gizzard, heart, lungs and breast were not significantly affected by the
diets whereas, fat contents decreased following the replacement of 344.3 g of maize per kg
with sun-dried sweet potato roots. From the above study, it was shown that sweet potato root
was a satisfactory source of energy for chicks. Although the study did not consider the direct
or indirect impacts of the reduced fat contents so recorded in the organs, it is very likely that
the reported lower fat contents of the body organs might have some significance for human
nutrition. Yet, a critical review of the literature suggests strongly that, researches on the
utilization of sweet potato foliage, meal or root are very scanty in spite of it being considered
a good source of protein that is mainly found in the leaves and other bioactive/nutritionally
active pigments such as β-carotene for poultry. Also, the roots contain compounds that are
considered to possess some detrimental anti-nutritional factors. However, studies have shown
that the concentration of anti-nutritional factors is not so high that could cause any serious
side-effect or hinder animal performance.
For example, in one of the existing studies it was shown that the TIA and the contents of
oxalate and phytate-phosphorus of sweet potato root were too low to be of any significant
nutritional concern to broilers (Ravindran and Sivakanesan, 1996). Their study also indicated
that sweet potato root meal can replace up to 400 g/kg or 40 % of maize (corn) in broiler diets
without adverse effects on performance (Table 2).

Table 2. Effects of feeding increasing quantities of sweet potato root meal from
1 to 21 day old broilers

Animal performance Sweet potato root meal inclusion rate (g/kg)


0 200 400 600 S.E.M.
Number of birds 40 40 40 40 n.a.
Weight gain/bird (g) 527 525 519 486 13.4
Feed intake/bird (g) 949 977 971 880 26.0
Feed conversion ratio 1.80 1.86 1.87 1.81 0.04
Mortality 2 2 1 1 n.a.
Apparent nutrient digestibility coefficient:
Dry matter 0.73 0.74 0.73 0.71 0.03
Nitrogen retention 0.58 0.56 0.59 0.56 0.02
Energy metabolism 0.79 0.76 0.78 0.76 0.03
Relative organ weight (g/100 g bodyweight):
Heart 0.68 0.69 0.65 0.71 0.03
Liver 3.16 3.19 3.16 3.26 0.11
Spleen 0.16 0.18 0.16 0.18 0.01
Pancreas 0.36 0.38 0.39 0.38 0.03
Source: Ravindran and Sivakanesan (1996).
SEM= Standard Error Means.
n.a. = (data) not available.

However, Teguia et al. (1997) did not record positive results from their experiment when
sweet potato leaf meal replaced 200 or 300 g of maize per kg in the control finishing broiler
diets because, it resulted to depressed body weight gain and increased feed conversion ratio.
But in another study to compare the nutritional value of sweet potato vine meal with that of
Sweet Potato in Animal Nutrition 233

Lucerne meal replaced at different levels in starter diets for broiler chickens it was observed
that, growth rate and feed conversion ratio were not different from diets containing the
Lucerne meal (Farrell et al., 2000).
Maphosa et al. (2003) carried out a study on the use of raw sweet potato root meal as an
ingredient in broiler diets and concluded that, it should not be added to broiler starter diets but
could be used up to 50 % inclusion levels in finisher diets without affecting the performance
of the birds. It is obvious from the foregoing that the severity of any negative impact on birds
fed diets with sweet potato as a partial or entire source of energy would depend not only on
the variety of sweet potato in consideration but also on the age of the birds and their innate
ability to metabolize any ingested anti-nutritional factor from the sweet potato feed
ingredient. Also, the fact that no serious mention has been made about the presence or effects
of anti-nutritional factors in either sun-dried or oven-dried sweet potato root or vine seem to
suggest that drying was a simple and effective method of curing sweet potato for use as feed
resource for not only poultry but for non-ruminants as well. Ayuk (2004 a, b) demonstrated
from two separate studies in Nigeria that sweet potato meal could replace maize at different
inclusion rates where the 50 % inclusion rate recorded the highest dressing percentage of
88.40 % with giblet in finishing broilers while, in broiler starter rations replacing maize with
sweet potato meal did not significantly decrease palatability and feed consumption.

Sweet Potato for Pigs

In a study in Venezuela, González et al. (2002) observed that sweet potato root meal can
provide 54 and 58 % of the diet during the growing and the finishing phases of pigs,
respectively, making it possible to replace 75 % of the cereal components as illustrated on
Table 3. González et al. (2003) evaluated voluntary feed intake of fresh foliage from sweet
potato, animal performance, and carcass traits when growing-finishing pigs were fed graded
levels of protein in Venezuela with the conclusion that it was possible to record high levels of
performance in pigs fed ad libitum sweet potato foliage, provided they also received feed
supplements containing 23.7 and 20.6 % protein during the growing and the finishing periods,
respectively. Duyet et al. (2003) investigated the effects of varying dietary levels of fresh
sweet potato leaves on the reproductive performance of sows (female adult pigs) in Vietnam
and concluded that sweet potato leaves could be included up to 50 % in the diets of growing
and pregnant gilts (a mature pig that has not given birth before) and up to 20 % during
lactation. In the study, they also observed that daily intakes of the fresh sweet potato leaves
ranged from 2.0 to 5.0 kg in the growing phase, 5.5 to 6.0 kg in gestation and 6.0 to 7.0 kg in
lactation of the sows at the 50 % inclusion level. Chittavong and Preston (2006) investigated
the intake and digestibility of fresh sweet potato leaves and fresh water spinach (Ipomoea
aquatica) fed to growing pigs at different levels as supplements to a mixture of rice bran and
cassava root meal (Table 4). The authors concluded from their study that, water spinach
foliage appeared to be slightly inferior to the leaves of sweet potato as protein supplements
for growing pigs fed a low-protein basal diet (50:50 mixture of cassava root meal and rice
bran). Their conclusion that further studies be conducted to confirm their assertion is a pointer
that there were many opportunities for the sweet potato crop although, at the moment the
literature shows that there is paucity of information on the use of sweet potato forage as feed
resource for animals especially for micro-livestocks.
234 Ibisime Etela

Table 3. Variation in dry matter intake (kg/day), daily weight gain (g/day), and feed
conversion ratio by pigs fed diets with varying proportions of cereal substitution by
sweet potato root meal

Animal performance Cereal substitution by sweet potato root meal (%)


0 25 50 75 100 SEM
Growing pig (35-60 kg):
Dry matter intake (kg/day) 1.56 1.51 1.75 1.60 1.49 0.11
Daily weight gain (g/day) 545 529 588 502 403 35
Feed conversion ratio 2.86 3.14 2.97 3.19 3.69 0.14
Finishing pig (60-90 kg):
Dry matter intake (kg/day) 2.01 2.13 2.12 2.14 1.96 0.10
Daily weight gain (g/day) 719 664 645 633 542 43
Feed conversion ratio 2.80 3.20 3.28 3.38 3.62 0.19
Growing-finishing pig (35-90 kg):
Dry matter intake (kg/day) 1.78 1.89 1.95 1.86 1.73 0.09
Daily weight gain (g/day) 632 596 617 567 473 27
Feed conversion ratio 2.82 3.17 3.16 3.28 3.65 0.2
Source: González et al. (2002).
SEM= Standard Error Mean.

Table 4. Mean values of feed and nutrient intake, apparent digestibility, and nitrogen
retention by pigs fed a basal diet of rice bran (RB) and cassava root meal (CVRM)
mixture supplemented with different levels of sweet potato leaves (SPL) and water
spinach (WS)

Animal performance RB and CVRM RB and CVRM RB and CVRM


+ 100% SPL + 75% SPL + 50% SPL S.E.M.
+ 0% WS + 25% WS + 50% WS
Average liveweight per pig (kg) 13.3 13.3 13.3 -
Dry matter intake (g DM/day):
Sweetpotato leaves 270 197 136 n.a.
Water spinach 0 65 136 n.a.
Mixture of RB and CVRM 270 262 273 n.a.
Total dry matter 540 524 545 22.8
Nutrient intake (g/day):
Organic matter 462 439 460 20.7
Crude protein 74 68 71 4.74
Crude fibre 65 62 66 1.87
Apparent digestibility (g/kg):
Dry matter 757 718 747 20.1
Organic matter 775 731 762 20.5
Crude protein 530 488 508 35.3
Crude fibre 698 726 693 32.2
Nitrogen (N) balance (g/day):
Nitrogen retention 5.62 4.52 4.31 0.63
As percent of N intake 47.7 43.5 38.3 4.25
As percent of N digested 67.3 56.6 52.4 4.13
Source: Chittavong and Preston (2006).
n.a = (data) not available.
SEM= Standard Error Means.
Sweet Potato in Animal Nutrition 235

In another study conducted in Cambodia to determine the effect of fresh sweet potato
vine and fresh mulberry leaves, given separately or mixed together on voluntary intake,
digestibility and nitrogen retention of growing pigs with a basal diet of broken rice it was
observed that, the pigs showed preference for sweet potato vine (Chhay et al., 2007). For
example, it was observed that intakes of foliage dry matter were higher when the sweet potato
vines formed 100 % of the foliage supplement (247 g DM/day) compared to mulberry leaf
meal alone (191 g DM/day) or both sweet potato and mulberry were mixed as supplements
(154 g DM/day). An et al. (2004) investigated ileal and total tract digestibility in growing
pigs fed cassava root meal (CRM) based diets with inclusion of fresh, dried and ensiled sweet
potato leaves (excluding stems) and reported that, ileal digestibility of neutral detergent fibre
and total tract digestibility of crude fibre were lower for diet CRM and casein than for diets
with sweet potato leaves inclusion either as fresh, dried or ensiled that appeared similar in
organic matter, crude protein, neutral detergent fibre and acid detergent fibre digestibility
(Table 5).

Table 5. Amino acid composition (g/16g N), ileal and total tract digestibilities of fresh,
dried and ensiled sweet potato leaves harvested at 60 days after planting and later at 20
days intervals and sun-cured sweet potato vine meal

Quality indicator Sweet potato leaves1 Sweet potato vines


Fresh Dried Ensiled Sun-cured2
Essential amino acids:
Arginine 5.22 5.20 4.98 7.45
Histidine 2.24 1.99 1.85 2.6
Isoleucine 3.73 4.18 3.57 5.7
Leucine 8.58 8.83 9.03 10.8
Lysine 4.48 4.14 3.92 6.2
Methionine 1.49 1.56 1.23 2.6
Cystine 3.36 3.20 2.33 2.1
Phenylalanine 7.09 6.88 7.14 6.9
Threonine 5.22 5.23 5.15 5.6
Tyrosine 4.10 3.95 3.74 n.a.
Valine 5.60 5.74 5.42 7.2
Non-essential amino acids:
Alanine 5.22 5.39 5.02 7.8
Aspartic acid 10.45 11.02 11.23 18.7
Glutamic acid 11.57 9.87 10.00 15.7
Glycine 4.10 3.52 2.73 7.2
Proline 3.73 3.40 3.39 5.5
Serine 4.10 4.06 4.71 5.6
Ileal digestibility:
Crude protein 0.74 0.74 0.74 n.a.
Neutral detergent fibre 0.23 0.24 0.25 n.a.
Total tract digestibility:
Crude protein 0.76 0.75 0.77 n.a.
Crude fibre 0.61 0.61 0.62 n.a.
Neutral detergent fibre 0.57 0.55 0.56 n.a.
Acid detergent fibre 0.36 0.32 0.36 n.a.
1
An et al. (2004).
2
Farrell et al. (2000).
n.a = (data) not available.
236 Ibisime Etela

The authors, thus, concluded that sweet potato leaves have the potential to improve
dietary protein and amino acids supply in low fibre diets for pigs and could be utilized either
in the fresh, dried or ensiled state depending on the prevailing climatic conditions since their
general nutritional properties were almost similar.
A similar study to evaluate ensiled sweet potato leaves as protein supplement showed that
sweet potato leaves can replace fishmeal and groundnut cake in traditional Vietnamese diets
for growing pigs (An et al., 2005). In another study, sweet potato root and vine were ensiled
together at different proportions without any additive to ensure its preservation for several
months and to determine its suitability as fattening pig feed since sweet potato vine was said
to be expensive to purchase during the off-season (Giang et al., 2004b).
Giang et al. (2004b) then concluded from their study that, all the five mixtures of sweet
potato root and sweet potato vine (namely: 70:30 %, 60:40 %, 50:50 %, 40:60 %, and 30:70
%, respectively), on dry matter basis, were successfully ensiled resulting in good quality
products that could be stored for, at least, three months. They also noted that the actual ratios
of sweet potato root and vine in the silage, under practical conditions, would depend on the
ratios produced at harvest that does not place restrictions on its usability by the resource-poor
farmer who will be at liberty to work within a flexible framework by using available
resources. The indication from the above scenarios is that, there are no serious restrictions as
to the feeding method or state for sweet potato vines, leaves or tubers on animal performance
resulting from the state in which the crop was fed rather, it is to be determined based on the
convenience of the farmer. Sweet potato as pig feed has been discussed in more details by Die
Peters in chapter 9 of this book.

SWEET POTATO FOR FEEDING RUMINANTS


Sweet Potato for Goats

In recent times, some studies have demonstrated that sweet potato foliage could support
growth in goats when fed as supplement to low quality grass as a potential source of cheap
nitrogen in the diets of growing goats. Aregheore (2004) fed eight growing female crosses of
Anglo-Nubian x Fiji local goats between 8 and 9 months old in Samoa of South Pacific with
four freshly chopped and thoroughly mixed batiki grass (BG): sweet potato forage (SPF) diets
defined as: T1 (100BG:0SPF); T2 (50BG:50SPF); T3 (25BG:75SPF), and T4 (0BG:100SPF)
per cent proportions by weight and recorded the following performance parameters as
depicted in Table 6.
Lam and Ledin (2004) set up an experiment to evaluate the possibility of replacing
Sesbania grandiflora foliage (a browse plant) with fresh sweet potato vines in the diets of
growing goats and observed that replacement of Sesbania foliage with 50 % fresh sweet
potato vines, on a dry matter basis, resulted in acceptable live weight gains of 60.6 g/day,
compared to the 64.0 g/day when Sesbania foliage versus 44.0 g/day when sweet potato vines
were sole-fed. In their study, however, it was noted that the advantage of sweet potato over
Sesbania was the relatively low yield and slow rate of re-growth after pruning of the latter.
In a recent study to determine chemical composition, rumen DM degradation and animal
performance of selected tropical wastes in Uganda it was observed that, season had
Sweet Potato in Animal Nutrition 237

significant effect on chemical composition with sweet potato vines harvested during the wet
season recording significantly higher crude protein, neutral detergent fibre, and acid detergent
fibre contents (Katongole et al., 2008).

Table 6. Performance by growing goats fed two combinations of batiki grass and sweet
potato forage

Animal performance T1 (100:0) T2 (50:50) T3 (25:75) T4 (0:100) S.E.M.

Dry matter intake (g DM d-1):


Batiki grass 851 425 271 n.a. 0.25
Sweetpotato forage n.a. 634 753 858 0.92
Total 851 1,059 1,024 858 0.94

Apparent nutrient digestibility


coefficient (g d-1):
Dry matter 47.3 76.6 72.4 69.7 11.25
Organic matter 48.6 68.2 64.9 62.2 7.45
Crude protein 38.2 76.6 73.1 62.9 15.01
Neutral detergent fibre 42.8 51.1 55.8 60.6 6.57
Daily liveweight gain 36 71 82 61 0.17
Source: Aregheore (2004).
SEM= Standard Error Means.
n.a = (data) not available.

It was also shown from their study that sweet potato vine wastes were sufficient to
provide the crude protein and metabolisable energy required by growing goats under tropical
conditions and thus serving as potential cheap feeds, especially, after wilting for better dry
matter intake, compared to fresh vines. However, the study could not determine the age at
harvest of the vines because they were simply gathered from three markets in the urban area
thus it is assumed that the vines were obtained after harvesting roots for sale in the local
market which usually takes four to five months, depending on the variety.

Sweet Potato for Sheep

In a related study with sheep it was shown that mixing sweet potato forage and root in
equal proportions (on dry matter basis) improved nutrient utilization, reduced cost per live
weight gain, and maximized economic returns from sweet potato cultivation for sheep
(Olorunnisomo, 2007b). Kariuki et al. (1998) working in Kenya fed sole diets of fresh sweet
potato vines to Merino sheep and recorded an apparent dry matter digestibility of 501 g/ kg
DM. There are also reports of higher dry matter digestibility in animals fed sweet potato
foliage from other studies. In addition, efforts are being made at both national and
international levels to evaluate forage quality from new varieties of the crop that have been
bred for higher tuberous root yields to make them more suitable in sweet potato-livestock
farming systems (Etela et al., 1998; Larbi et al., 2007).
238 Ibisime Etela

Sweet Potato for Cattle

Backer et al. (1980) working with crossbred Brahman bulls in Costa Rica concluded that
feeding 12 % of sweet potato roots had no commercial value when fed with the rest diet made
of the forage and that it could result to a profit of 38 %. Such a profit margin, no doubt, would
be an economic advantage for the small livestock producer. In an earlier study, the success of
frequently harvesting sweet potato forage served as unconventional protein source for feeding
Zebu and crossbred bulls for fattening over 127 days giving daily live weight gains of 0.68
kg/day (680 g/day), fresh forage intake of 10.58 kg/day, and dry matter intake of 1.45 kg/day
(Ffoulkes and Preston, 1977). In a related study it was indicated that sweet potato foliage
could be used as nutritious dietary supplement to improve the diets of cattle (Ffoulkes et al.,
1978). Other studies have shown that the foliage could also be used as starter feed and partial
milk replacer for calves (Orodho et al., 1996). Kariuki et al. (1998) working in Kenya fed
sole diets of fresh sweet potato vines to dairy heifers and concluded that sweet potato vines
contained nutrient levels that would sustain acceptable growth in heifers and thus possessing
the potential to improve cattle production as indicated in Table 7 (Kariuki et al., 1998).

Table 7. Performance by pigs, goats, heifers and cows either sole-fed sweet potato vines
or as supplement to a basal diet, and rumen degradability characteristics

Animal performance Date of harvest (days after planting) and [source]*


841 n.a.2 1123 n.a.4
Nutrient intake:
Dry matter intake (kg/d) 4.2 n.a. 7.4-8.1 0.556
Dry matter intake (g/kg0.75/d) 89 n.a. n.a. 71.2
Dry matter intake (g/kg0.734/d) n.a. n.a. 131-152 n.a.
Organic matter intake (kg/d) 3.6 n.a. n.a. n.a.
Crude protein intake (kg/d) 0.57 n.a. n.a. 0.060
Neutral detergent fibre intake (kg/d) 2.1 n.a. n.a. n.a
Metabolisable energy intake (MJ/day) n.a. n.a. n.a. 4.9
Calcium intake (kg/d) 0.021 n.a. n.a. n.a
Phosphorus intake (kg/d) 0.012 n.a. n.a. n.a

Nutrient digestibility:
Dry matter digestibility n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.68
Organic matter digestibility n.a. 0.82 n.a. 0.71
Crude protein digestibility n.a. 0.70 n.a. 0.66
Ether extract digestibility n.a. 0.77 n.a. n.a
Neutral detergent fibre digestibility n.a 0.71 n.a. n.a
Acid detergent fibre digestibility n.a 0.69 n.a. n.a
Hemicellulose digestibility n.a. 0.92 n.a. n.a
Cellulose digestibility n.a. 0.87 n.a. n.a
N-retention (g/day) n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.35
Average daily gain (g/d) 500 n.a. n.a. n.a.

Daily milk yield (mL/d):


Initial n..a n.a. 1,150-1,528 n.a
Final n.a. n.a. 1,209-1,561 n.a
Changes in yield n.a. n.a. -69 to 59 n.a
Sweet Potato in Animal Nutrition 239

Animal performance Date of harvest (days after planting) and [source]*


841 n.a.2 1123 n.a.4
Milk composition (g/100 g):
Total solids n.a. n.a. 12.93-13.28 n.a
Ash n.a. n.a. 0.76-0.79 n.a
Protein n.a. n.a. 3.73-3.91 n.a
Fat n.a. n.a. 3.94-4.08 n.a
Lactose n.a n.a. 4.19-4.81 n.a

Rumen degradability characteristics (g/kg DM):


Soluble fraction 276 n.a. 133-146 374
Slowly degradable fraction 494 n.a. 693-752 483
Degradation rate 0.05 n.a. 0.0358-0.0379 0.039
Potential degradability 770 n.a. 837-885 857
Effective degradability 587 n.a. 515-548 694
1
Kariuki et al. (1998).
2
Dung et al. (2002).
3
Etela et al. (2008a).
4
Katongole et al. (2008).
n.a = (data) not available.

Figure 2. Trends in daily milk yields by White Fulani cows fed sole sweet potato foliage from three
varieties and Guinea grass (Etela et al., 2008a).
240 Ibisime Etela

In a recent study by Etela et al. (2008a, b) on White Fulani (Bunaji) cows in early
lactation and sole-fed fresh forage from three sweet potato cultivars in Nigeria, it was
demonstrated that the cows on sweet potato forage performed relatively better than those on
dry-season Guinea grass or Green panic (Panicum maximum) alone in terms of voluntary dry
matter intake, changes in milk yields, and rumen degradability characteristics (Table 7). The
recorded trend in daily milk yields over the 21-day study revealed that it declined steadily for
the dry-season Guinea grass fodder sole-fed cows, while there were generally slight
improvements for the cows on sweet potato forage alone (Figure 2).
In a similar study, it was demonstrated that Panicum fodder showed improvements in
rumen dry matter degradation characteristics following sweetpotato forage supplementation
(Etela et al., 2008c). The study also showed that the calves responded differently to the forage
supplements from the three different sweet potato varieties in terms of daily live weight gains.
Other recent studies observed that the use of sweet potato forage as supplement to dry season
Guinea grass in preference for either dried brewers‘ grains (DBG) and/or cottonseed meal
(CSM) could serve as sustainable cost-effective measures that incur less environmental costs,
and relatively higher efficiency of metabolisable energy utilization for milk production but
with slight reductions in milk yields that might be recorded (Etela et al, 2008d).

CONCLUSION
This chapter reveals that sweet potato is a crop with high potentials with evidence of its
suitability as animal feed for sustainable animal nutrition, especially, under smallholder sweet
potato-animal production farming systems. However, the literature shows that this potential
of the crop is only minimally being exploited thus making it difficult to derive the inherent
full benefits. In Asia where the crop appears to be well-integrated into the pig-sweet potato
farming systems, its use under farming systems dominated by other animal species of farm
animals such as poultry and ruminant appears not so developed.
In Africa, the literature shows that a few works have been done on the utilization of sweet
potato in ruminants (cattle; goats; sheep), poultry (mostly in chicken), with very limited
studies on pigs. One notable aspect is the unavailability or near absence of relevant literature
on its use in rabbit and other micro-livestock and where available they might not be
accessible for international readership. Overall, the scope for sweet potato utilization in
animal nutrition is limitless both in macro- and micro-livestock species.
The paucity of information on sweet potato-animal based farming systems is, partly, due
to fewer of such practices well-documented and partly due to the outright neglect of the crop
in this regard. Such a practice is experienced in many sweet potato-based research institutes
where the crop is being bred for various improved agronomic traits without much interest on
the foliage as animal feed in terms of biomass yields (foliage plus tuberous roots) and other
quality traits relevant to animal nutrition.
Sweet Potato in Animal Nutrition 241

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In: Sweet Potato: Post Harvest Aspects in Food ISBN 978-1-60876-343-6
Editors: R. C. Ray and K. I. Tomlins © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Chapter 9

SWEET POTATO AND PIGS:


TRADITIONAL RELATIONSHIPS, CURRENT
PRACTICES AND FUTURE PROSPECTS

Dai Peters
1724 Maywood Dr., W. Lafayette, IN 406, USA

ABSTRACT
Chinese farmers use the greatest volume of sweet potato as pig feed, Vietnamese
farmers allocate the greatest proportion of sweet potato production for pig feed, Papuan
farmers depend the most on sweet potato as pig feed, and Soroti farmers are the best
representatives of this system in Africa. These four cases constitute the most significant
examples of feeding sweet potato as pig feed, though such a practice is widespread
throughout the world. Though these four systems share the same characteristics of
feeding sweet potato to pigs, the agronomic, ecological, marketing, and even socio-
cultural contexts vary greatly resulting in distinctly different production and marketing
systems. A comprehensive assessment of the production and marketing system of each
case was thus essential before technological research could be designed or launched to
improve the system. Where substantial volume of sweet potato is available and
widespread backyard supplemental feed manufacturing is mushrooming, as in China, the
logical method for improving the system is to devise technology to make sweet potato-
based pellet feed, or to balance the sweet potato-based diet with specific commercial
supplements. Where sweet potato is harvested in various seasons a year and other
supplemental farm crops are available, the logical methods for improvement are to select
clones that are suitable for the different seasons and examine ways of combining different
crops in different seasons through processing. In the unique situation of Papua, Indonesia
(and Papua New Guinea) where pigs and sweet potato are completely integrated into the
lives of humans, it is essential to approach the subject in a holistic manner, taking into
consideration the socio-cultural contexts and implications. This review of the assessment
and enhancement of these four cases serves as examples of approaches to improving
traditional livestock systems.


E- mail: daipeters@gmail.com
246 Dai Peters

ABBREVIATIONS
ACIAR Australian Council for International Agricultural Research;
ACMD African Cassava Mosaic Disease;
CIP International Potato Centre;
DWG daily weight gain;
DMY dry matter yield;
NPN non-protein nitrogen;
SAAS Siachun Academy of Animal Sciences;
TIA trypsin inhibitor activity;

INTRODUCTION
Even though pig production in the developed countries is based on balanced commercial
feed, most small pig producers in the developing world are constrained by the cost of feed
imports or shortage of such feed. Sweet potato, along with other crop feedstuff, has been fed
as an alternative feed to large-scale and feed-based livestock production as a source of energy
while the leaves are a source of protein, and both can be used in fresh and dried form or
fermented into silage (Woolfe, 1992). Accounting for 85% of sweet potato production in the
world, China‘s sweet potato consumption has declined over the years as living standards have
increased. Huang et al. (2003) estimate that 40% of total sweet potato output in China went to
animal feed in the mid 1990s, with regional utilization varying from 60% in Sichuan Province
to 30% in Shandong Province.
Sweet potato is also substantially linked to pig production in north and central Vietnam.
In fact, since sweet potato can not compete with cassava as a raw material for starch
processing, about 70-80% of roots are fed to pigs, either directly by the producers or
indirectly by the root buyers. In addition to China and Vietnam, sweet potato-pig systems
used to play an important role in the rural economy of many parts of Asia, including the
Philippines, Korea, and Taiwan, and continue to be important in some areas of Indonesia
(Bali and Papua) and Papua New Guinea. These systems are also practiced, to a lesser extent,
in Latin America and Africa (Scott, 1991). Uganda is the largest sweet potato producer in
Africa and sweet potato plays an important role in providing food security to many areas of
Uganda where it is cultivated (Bashaasha et al., 1995). This role has become more prominent
in areas where cassava, the second most important crop next to banana, has been destroyed by
serious epidemics of African Cassava Mosaic Disease (ACMD) which have caused severe
food shortages and hardship in Uganda during post-ACMD years (Otim-Nape et al., 1995).
Sweet potato-pig systems are particularly well developed on the island of New Guinea where
sweet potato roots and vines account for most of the pig feed. Pigs supplement this by
foraging, apparently obtaining additional protein from consumption of soil fauna, particularly
earthworms (Peters, 2001).
Although sweet potato - pig farmers complain about the low profitability of raising pigs,
the practice serves three important functions:

(1) it generates one of the few sources of cash income for many rural households,
Sweet Potato and Pigs 247

(2) it provides manure for maintaining and improving soil fertility, and
(3) it allows pigs to convert low-value sweet potato into highly desired meat and/or
highly marketable commodities. Moreover, pigs of the Papuan farmers enjoy a
protected and almost revered status because of their socio-economic importance
(Peters, 2001). Pigs are equated with wealth and social importance, and constitute the
most important living creature besides people.

This chapter reviews the characteristics of systems which use sweet potato as pig feed,
and the approaches to improving these systems, in four areas:

(1) Sichuan, China,


(2) Northern and central Vietnam,
(3) Papua, Indonesia, and
(4) Soroti, Uganda.

Most of the review is based on the author‘s research on assessment and interventions
between 1996 and 2003 in all four sites. The sweet potato-pig production assessment in
Sichuan Province was conducted in 1996 and 1999. The same production assessment in
Vietnam was conducted in various provinces between 1997 and 2000, including a large
survey in seven provinces in 1998 with a sample size of 160 households. The Vietnam pig
marketing survey was conducted in 1999 in 13 provinces, comprising 1,140 samples and nine
different survey instruments for nine categories of respondents. The study of human-sweet
potato-pig systems in Papua was carried out during three seasons in 2001 and 2002. The
review of the role of sweet potato as pig feed in Soroti in Uganda was part of an assessment
on the overall sweet potato post-harvest strategies for this area that was conducted in 1997.
The intervention research, including sweet potato selection trials, sweet potato root and
vine processing technologies, pig feeding trials, and husbandry management trials, followed
the site assessments in an attempt to improve these systems in Vietnam and Papua. In China
only a few trials were conducted. All trials were conducted on farms in collaboration with
local farmers.

ASSESSMENT OF CURRENT SWEET POTATO-PIG FEED SYSTEMS


Sichuan, China, northern and central Vietnam, Papua, Indonesia, and Soroti, Uganda
were selected for study and this review because of their unique characteristics of sweet
potato-pig production. Sichuan, with a population of 84 million, is the most densely
populated province of China, and had a pig population of 65 million in 2000. One of the
reasons for the immense pig production is attributed to the 3.76 million tons of sweet potato
production of low cash value, 60-70% of which is thus fed to pigs (Zou, 2002). The
magnitude of the sweet potato and pig production and their interaction makes Sichuan an
important example of sweet potato-pig systems.
Farmers in northern and central Vietnam plant two or three seasons of sweet potato in a
year, usually as a stop-gap between rice crops. These are usually short-season crops, as short
as 75 days, but up to 120 days during the winter, with an average of 90 days. The winter
248 Dai Peters

season constitutes the major crop which produces the majority of the roots for the year. The
other seasons are often too short to produce significant roots so the vines are the main harvest.
The high market value and demand for sweet potato vines, sold mainly as pig feed, is very
unique to northern and central Vietnam.
Papua does not have a large human or pig population but pigs and sweet potato,
nonetheless, account for the majority of the household economy and activities. Although the
sweet potato and pig production in Papua do not occupy a significant position on the world
scale, the inseparable human-sweet potato-pig relationship in Papua represents a unique agro-
socio-cultural system that warrants documentation and improvement. Papuan farmers are now
going through the transition from subsistence pig-raising for self-consumption, social
exchange and ceremonial uses to commercial production.
Sweet potato originated in South America and was later carried to Asia where it became a
major food and feed crop among poor farmers. Fewer examples of such systems can be found
in Africa where pigs and sweet potato do not occupy the same prominent roles as in the Asian
rural livelihoods. The Soroti area of Uganda, however, is a case from Africa demonstrating
that such practices are not confined to Asia and that this system also has the potential to
contribute to, and improve, rural livelihoods in Africa.
The use of sweet potato as pig feed in these four sites shares some common
characteristics as well as diverse qualities due to the different agricultural-economic-cultural
contexts. The shared and the distinctive characteristics of these four systems summarize the
overall framework of the sweet potato-pig feeding system among poor farmers around the
world. Specific characteristics of these four systems are described below.

SHARED CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SYSTEMS


The distinctive sweet potato-pig feed systems practiced around the world share the
following characteristics (Table 1).

1. Sweetpotato Roots and Vines as a Major Feed Component

Generally roots are fed as an energy source and vines as a protein source. The quantities
fed, though, vary greatly depending on the following considerations:

• farmers‘ preferences—Papuan farmers tend to feed large quantities of roots


throughout a pig‘s lifespan while Chinese farmers prefer to feed large quantities only
to fattening pigs,
• sweet potato availability—due to high production, Chinese farmers have more sweet
potato available for pig feed than in Vietnam or Uganda where production is lower,
• alternative feeds—in mountainous zones of Vietnam where cassava roots are
available as feed; sweet potato vines are fed as a supplement to cassava roots, and
• post- harvest processing option—in Uganda and Papua vines are not dried and
stored, thus only fed during the harvest season; unlike their Chinese and Vietnamese
counterparts who either dry or store vines for prolonged feeding periods.
Table 1. The shared and distinctive characteristics of sweet potato (SP)-pig systems in Sichuan, China, northern and central Vietnam,
Papua, Indonesia, and Soroti, Uganda

Characteristics of Sichuan, China Northern and central Vietnam Papua, Indonesia Soroti, Uganda
SP-pig systems
SP roots and vines as Feed large quantity of roots for Roots often supplemented with Feed large quantity of roots Feed sufficient quantity
a major feed finishing pigs before the pigs cassava roots throughout pigs‘ life span while roots are available,
component are sold Vines are usually not processed Vines are harvested each day and but often uncooked
Vines are mostly dried and fed and large quantity fed to pigs after fed to pigs fresh daily Vines are fed only during
throughout the year harvest harvest.
Supplemented with Supplemented with maize, rice Supplemented with cassava, rice, Supplemented by foraging Brew residues, fish bones,
other farm crops, or and wheat bran, and rice bran, and a little commercial grasses and rooting for worms grass, mango, papaya, and
forages commercial feed feed rooting for worms
Limited commercial Commercial feed is common On the long coast, small, No supplements have been No supplements have been
supplements but most farmers not certain of unmarketable fish and shrimp observed or recorded observed or recorded
its utility heads are often fed to pigs
Low Crude Protein Only 5% lower than the Moderate shortage of CP as diet is Severe shortage of CP due to few Severe shortage of CP, as
(CP) diet standard pig diet due to high supplemented by cassava and bran protein sources even vines are not fed
maize and bran in diet regularly
Unbalanced feeding Unbalanced feeding rations, Due to lack of storage solutions, No feeding regime, feed No feeding regime, feed
rations but better than Vietnam and often feed large quantity of roots sporadically, sometimes raw and sporadically, often feed
Papua, and always cooked and vines at harvest time other times cooked, and only SP raw, even when cooked,
twice a day usually not cooked long
enough to boil
Poor management of Pig pens are often dirty with Pig pens are often dirty and poorly Pigs roam free in day time and Tethered to open latrines
the environment poor hygiene and temperature managed penned in at night and exposed to human
fluctuation feces and worms
Lack of effective Little report of loss to disease Disease is a problem particularly Heavy parasite load seriously Worms and diseases
disease control and illness in the uplands, resulting in impedes growth and no disease seldom treated, and no
reluctance to invest in pigs control measures disease control measures
250 Dai Peters

2. Supplemented by Other Farm Crops or Foraging

Maize is an important supplement, along with rice and wheat bran, in China due to high
production and low price; whereas the combination of cassava and rice bran mixture is most
commonly fed as supplement in Vietnam.
In Uganda and Papua, pigs root for worms and forage grasses while tethered or roaming
free.

3. Limited Commercial Supplements

Feeding sweet potato as pig feed is commonly practiced by poor farmers who have little
or no access to commercial supplements. Such supplements have become more available in
China, but the quality varies so greatly that with little enforced regulation, farmers are highly
suspicious of their efficacy. Along the long eastern seaboard of Vietnam, farmers sometimes
have access to unmarketable fish and shrimp scraps as protein supplement.

4. Low Crude Protein Diet

Protein supplements are rarely observed. In China, commercial protein supplements have
become widespread, but the farmers in remote counties of Sichuan were generally uncertain
of their utility or usage, or could not afford to invest in these commercial products.
On the coast of Vietnam, it is not uncommon for farmers to add some unmarketable small
fish or shrimp to the basic farm-crop diet, but this is done sporadically and seasonally. In
Papua and Uganda, the pigs supplement their sweet potato-centered diet with the worms that
they root while roaming around the forest, or simply tethered in the field. Otherwise, protein
supplements are generally absent from these systems. One good source of protein is the sweet
potato leaves, which contain 18-22% crude protein.

5. Unbalanced Feeding Rations

In addition to the absence of protein supplements, unbalanced nutrition is further


aggravated by the following additional factors:

• sporadic daily feeding schedules—many farmers, especially in Uganda and Papua,


do not follow a daily feeding schedule and feed sporadically, and
• nutritionally-unbalanced feeding practices—balanced daily feed formulation is
absent and farmers generally feed whatever is available, and commonly feed
excessive amounts of sweet potato roots or vines at the time of harvest due to lack of
means or technology for storage or processing.
Sweet Potato and Pigs 251

6. Poor Management of the Environment

Whether the pigs are confined in pens as in China and Vietnam, tethered as in Uganda, or
confined only at night as in Papua, pig health and growth is often adversely affected by
conditions of poor sanitation and hygiene.

7. Lack of Effective Disease Control

There are varying degrees of disease control in these traditional systems, but in general
illness poses a serious threat to investments in pig husbandry. The fear of pig mortality often
results in farmers who are unwilling to invest in pig-raising. The farmers feel more exposed to
risk if the pigs require cash investment when they suspect that pigs may die from diseases
such as pig cholera in Vietnam, excessive parasite burden in Papua, and alleged African
swine fever in Uganda.

Distinctive Characteristics of Each System


Despite the premise of many shared characteristics, each sweet potato-pig feed system
has its unique features derived from the distinctive socio-cultural-ecological context within
which it exists.

Sichuan, China
Yilong County of Sichuan Province alone produces 400,000 tons of fresh sweet potato a
year and each household in Yilong, on average, harvests 1.5 tons of sweet potato a year. Due
to lack of processing technologies in 1997, 75% of the sweet potato roots were fed to pigs.
Since sweet potato is harvested with the onset of winter, the roots are stored for about six
months either in pits underground or in hillside caves with very little reported loss. This
allows the farmers to allocate them as feed in rational portions.
Eighty-three percent of the sweet potato vines are fed to pigs, which are chopped and
dried, then stored for times when farmers are too busy to prepare fresh vegetables and grass
for the pigs. Silage is not common in Yilong and only a few households engaged in this
practice. On average there is only sufficient vine production for approximately four and a half
months of pig feeding per year. Pigs are always fed twice daily and Sichuan farmers like to
increase the percentage of sweet potato roots as pigs become larger. During the growing
period, sweet potato provides 28% of the total feed, green forage 65%, and maize 2% of the
total feed. Finishing pigs are fed 49% sweet potato, 42% green forage, and 5% maize (Zou,
2002). Rice and wheat bran produced on-farm are commonly fed to supplement the diet.
According to farmers, the increased sweetpotato consumption during finishing gives the meat
a sweet flavour.
Two systems of pig feeding were observed (Table 2); the most common is the traditional-
feeding system which uses no commercial feed, additives, or protein supplements. All feed
sources in this system are mixed and cooked before feeding to pigs. The second type is the
mixed-feeding system which combines some commercial protein supplement for piglets with
other on-farm available feed sources. This system is not as commonly observed, as it requires
cash inputs. On average, the traditional system takes 12 months to raise pigs to approximately
252 Dai Peters

95 kg, while it takes 10.6 months for the mixed system to raise pigs to 88 kg. The traditional
households raise pigs mainly for home consumption while the mixed-feeding households are
more commercially oriented and raise pigs for cash income.

Table 2. Various characteristics of two pig-raising systems in Sichuan, China:


Traditional and mixed-feeding

Number (no.) Final destination of pigs: for sale in


market or consumed at home (per hh)
Type of # # Pigs/ # Months Final Wt Pig sales % Sold
household (hh) hh hh to finish (kg) (yuan) pigs/ hh
Traditional 17 3.1 12 95 847 59
Mixed-feed 10 4.8 10.6 88 2,040 100

In both systems pigs are raised in pens with gaps between wooden slats to allow manure
to fall into a pit below. This manure is mixed with human faeces and urine that are also
deposited directly into the same pit. This mixture is used as liquid fertilizer, without
composting with any other organic material, for soil fertility maintenance. The cleanliness
and management of the environment is uneven, but there is surprisingly little reported loss to
diseases and illnesses.

Northern and Central Vietnam


Vietnam produces 1.6 – 1.7 million tons of sweet potato roots a year nationwide (General
Statistics Office, 2003), as compared to 0.4 million tons from a single county (Yilong,
described above) in China. In northern and central Vietnam, 70-80% of sweet potato roots are
fed to pigs while only small percentages are consumed at home or sold in the market (Table
3). The situation is quite different in the south where sweet potato is a cash crop rather than a
staple crop.
Thus, the sweet potato-pig feed system is only practiced in the northern and central
provinces of Vietnam, and while farmers using this system traditionally raise two to five pigs
per cycle with an average daily weight gain (DWG) of 288 g, the farmers of Dong Nai
Province in the south raise 25 pigs per cycle with a nearly doubled DWG (Table 4). The
difference between the growth efficiency is largely attributed to the feed. In northern and
central Vietnam, sweet potato roots and vines, along with cassava, maize, and rice bran
constitute the major part of the diet, which is supplemented by various green forages.
The season affects the variation in the amount of sweet potato fed to pigs. Sweet potato is
cultivated up to three seasons a year (mainly two) in northern and central Vietnam; its
availability is thus scattered in short spurts after each harvest because traditionally there is no
means of storing either roots or vines in this sub-tropical climate. Thus, farmers feel obliged
to feed large amounts to pigs within a short period after harvest to avoid loss.
Most pigs are kept in pens with concrete floors covered with straw during the winter.
These pens often have a dunging area for the pigs and manure is collected behind the pens in
a pit, composted with other organic material and applied to crops as green manure. A small
proportion of pigs are raised on dirt floors, usually covered in soggy straw. Diseases are
Sweet Potato and Pigs 253

commonly observed and reported in Vietnam, particularly in the upland areas. Diseases are
serious enough to deter much cash investment for fear of financial loss due to mortality.

Table 3. Sweet potato (SP) production and utilization in seven provinces in northern,
central and southern Vietnam (n=160 households (hh) per site)

Production Sweet potato Utilization (%)


Location Ton/hh % hh not Fed to Sold in Home Processing
planting SP pigs market consumption starch
Southern
Dong Nai 0 100 0 0 0 0
Vinh Long 11.8 0 0 100 0 0
Northern & Central
Quang Nam 0.83 0 87.8 0 12.2 0
Thanh Hoa 1.21 0 87.3 0 12.7 0
Ha Bac 1.15 0 70.0 25.0 5.1 0
Hoa Binh* 0 100 0 0 0 0
Vinh Phu 0.80 0 67.1 23.3 9.7 0

*Hoa Binh is an upland province that produces cassava as pig feed.

Table 4. General characteristics of household pig production in seven provinces in


northern, central and southern Vietnam (n=160 households per site)

Households No. pigs per Initial weight Final weight Months per DWG
Location
without pigs (%) cycle (kg) (kg) cycle (g)

Southern VN
Dong Nai 2.5 24.9 15.0 83.8 4.4 522
a
Vinh Long 72.5 6.54 22 100 7.0 374

Northern-Central VN

Quang Nam 0 2.06 5.83 54.8 8 204


Thanh Hoa 0 1.99 12.8 69.9 6.0 319
Ha Bac 0 2.6 14.0 80.6 5.8 383
Hoa Binh 0 4.86 9.5 62.0 7.4 236
Vinh Phu 0 2.52 10.3 52.5 4.7 298
Average 0 2.81 10.5 64.0 6.4 288
a
Vinh Long is a major sweetpotato (SP) producing province and 100% of SP is sold in the fresh market;
hence no SP is available for pig feed and therefore there are few pigs.
DWG: Daily Weight Gain.

Papua, Indonesia
Pigs are regarded as gold among the Dani people in the Baliem Valley in Papua. Women
choose husbands based on how many pigs the men own, and a man with large numbers of
pigs traditionally has multiple wives. In turn, each wife‘s status in the family is determined by
254 Dai Peters

her ability to multiply the pigs, and by association, her ability to cultivate sweet potato with
which to feed the pigs. Having a few large pigs is more desirable than many little ones
because the small pigs may die or be stolen, and they may not grow. Large pigs, on the other
hand, generally do not die, cannot be stolen, and have already grown. Having a number of
large pigs ensures the person‘s position in the community; it is like wearing lots of gold
around one‘s neck, wrists, and fingers.
While pigs are gold, sweet potato is the currency used to obtain the gold. Usually each
family can have up to 15 or more sweet potato plots in varying stages of cultivation: some
have just been planted, some a couple of months, some almost ready to harvest, some being
harvested, and some sitting fallow. Each plot contains a mixture of short- and long-season
varieties; thus, each plot may also be in varying stages of harvest, ranging from six to nine
months on average, but some fields can take up to a year and a half to complete the harvest.
The sweet potato-pig system has a high labor cost, especially for women who spend nearly
half of the daily working hours tending to sweetpotato and pigs (Table 5). This is both
because of the number and distance of the fields from home and the extensive work required
for preparing and maintaining the fields.

Table 5. The allocation of time for men, women, boys, and girls in Papua, based on three
seasons of data recorded by farmers on the time spent on each activity daily (hr/day)

Men Women Boys Girls Average


Time spent on resting 15 14 15 14 14
Time spent on working 8 10 8 9 9
of which, time spent on SP work 3.1 4.3 0.8 1.1 2.3
of which, time spent on raising pigs 0.5 1.1 0.1 0.2 0.5
Rest includes: sleeping, eating, bathing, relaxing, religious activities, and social interactions.
Work includes: studying, cooking, Sweet potato (SP) field work, rice field work, gathering firewood,
caring for pigs and other livestock, caring for children, and other miscellaneous work (e.g.,
construction, fishing, fetching water).

Table 6. Sweet potato root and vine consumption by humans and pigs in each housing
compound, Baliem Valley, Papua, Indonesia (kg/compound/day)

December 2001 June 2002 December 2002


Roots for humansa 8.9 8.5 8.0
Vines for humansa 5.1 5.6 3.4
Roots for pigsb 10.4 9.9 9.9
Vines for pigsb 6.9 5.3 4.2
a
The average number of people recorded sharing these roots and vines includes 1.7 adult men, 1.6 adult
women, 2.0 boys, and 2.1 girls, or an average of 5.2 people/compound.
b
On average, 2.5 sows, 2.0 male pigs (mainly castrated), and 6.3 piglets per compound were fed these
amounts of sweetpotato.

Humans and pigs both consume an unusually large quantity of sweet potato roots and
vines as the staple of the diet (Table 6). Though the common belief is that sweet potato roots
for food and feed are distinguished by variety; in practice it is the quality of the roots that
Sweet Potato and Pigs 255

distinguishes the use. The nice big roots, regardless of variety, are reserved for humans while
the inferior and undesirable-looking roots, again regardless of variety, are relegated to pigs.
Generally, the women harvest nice roots from the new gardens for human consumption while
looking for feed among the second generation roots from the old garden, or even the gardens
that have gone into fallow. The women rotate among the new gardens each day to harvest
roots for human food, while digging in the old gardens for feed.
Due to the competition between food and feed, the farmers can only afford to feed sweet
potato roots and vines to pigs once a day. The pigs are thus set out each morning to roam in
the fields or forests in order to root for worms and forage for grasses to supplement the
insufficient feed. For the pigs, foraging results in excessive exercise, exposure to disease, and
beatings by neighbors when they get into the sweetpotato gardens. Moreover, roots are
cooked for pigs only once or twice a week when the farmers do baker batu, using hot stones
to cook a large amount of roots sufficient for both humans and pigs. The rest of the week pigs
are fed raw sweet potato roots, which contain trypsin inhibitor, and have a low protein and
mineral content. Consequently pigs take three to five years to reach 70-80 kg from birth, if
indeed they do not get stolen or die from diseases first.
Premature deaths are common since parasites are rampant in the absence of the lack of
separation between human feces and pigs. Although Dani farmers know almost every aspect
of sweet potato cultivation, they lack basic knowledge of pig husbandry and disease control.
When the highly-valued pigs are struck by illness, Dani farmers routinely pray, conduct
rituals, or apply traditional healing methods on the pigs, but seldom consult veterinarians.

Soroti, Uganda
Soroti is one of the major sweet potato-producing areas of Uganda, which is the largest
producer in Africa, where the average household planted half a hectare per year in 1997
(Table 7). The sweet potato planting areas in Soroti fluctuated with the availability of planting
material, rain conditions, and labor availability. Though also marketed as a cash crop, fresh
market prices from the previous year did not affect the decision on planting areas because
sweet potato was primarily a food and feed crop, especially after the demise of cassava when
it was destroyed by epidemics of ACMD, which has caused severe food shortages and
hardships in Uganda.
When moderate rains are available throughout the sweet potato season, the yields can
reach 4.0 – 7.5 tons per hectare. Every three to four years, there would be one year of
insufficient rains that caused the yield to drop to 1.5 - 2.5 tons per ha. Neither chemical nor
organic fertilizer is applied to the field, and the productivity is maintained solely by the
traditional fallow system.
Until the alleged African Swine Fever devastated the pig population in this area in 1995-
96, the percentage of households that raised pigs was much higher. By 1997, some 60-80 %
of households had pigs, varying according to farmers‘ ability to restock the piglets. Pigs and
sweet potato were perceived as ways to gain quick turnaround of cash while cattle and
cassava were for the long haul. It was the favored livestock among young people who desired
the quick cash. Nevertheless, on average each household could only afford to raise one or two
pigs per cycle, and most households raised only one pig per cycle (Table 8). Though
considered a profitable venture, many farmers hesitated to raise more because of insufficient
sweet potato as feed during the dry season, difficulty in confining the pigs, fear of African
Swine Fever, and lack of cash to buy piglets.
256 Dai Peters

Table 7. Characteristics of sweet potato production in three villages in Soroti, Uganda

Planting area (ha/hh) Yield (ton/ha) 1997 Production (ton/hh)


Village 1996 1997 Enough rain Lack of rain Enough rain Lack of rain
Dokolo 0.44 0.55 4.2 1.6 2.8 1.08
Aukot 0.68 0.49 5.1 1.8 2.8 1.08
Awoja 0.84 0.57 7.4 2.6 4.7 1.49

Table 8. Characteristics of pig raising in three villages in Soroti, Uganda

Village hh raising # pigs/hh 1 pig/hh Growing Beg..wt. End wt. Monthly wt


pigs (%) (%) period (kg/pig) (kg/pig) gain (kg/mo)
(# mo)
Dokolo 40 1.69 69 7.6 3.1 29.7 3.45
Aukot 70 2.13 42 7.9 3.4 19.9 2.11
Awoja 80 1.67 67 7.8 4 23.9 2.7
hh: household; mo: months.

Pig growth was grossly under achieved and the pigs generally reached only 25-30 kg
after seven to eight months of rearing. Feed, management, and disease all contributed to this
slow growth rate. The pigs were fed twice a day mainly on sweet potato roots and vines,
along with other locally available low-value feeds—brew residues, fish bones, grass, mango,
and papaya. The roots were often fed uncooked while the vines were fed only during the
harvest season as the farmers, unaware of the value of the vine as feed, discarded the vines in
the fields as fertilizer upon harvest. The feed is both grossly deficient in crude protein and
unbalanced as the feeding regime was at best sporadic.
Tethered only loosely to a tree or a stump in the shade, the pigs supplemented their diet
by grazing around the tethered area and rooting for worms most of the day. Often pigs were
tethered next to open latrines and the exposure to human feces put pigs at risk for infection.
Worms and other diseases went untreated most of the time. The negative effects of exposure
to disease was verified by the small number of households that treated their pigs for worms,
whose pigs, despite being fed the lowest amount of sweetpotato, achieved the highest growth
rate.

Improvement of the Sweet Potato-Pig Systems

As there are substantial differences among the four areas in their sweet potato-pig
systems, the general approach to improvement includes situation analysis, participatory
technology development, and scaling up, with an additional monitoring and evaluation
component for impact assessment. The situation analysis required a systemic understanding
of the human-sweet potato-pig system in Papua, but it required separate assessments of sweet
potato production and pig production in China; an additional pig market chain assessment in
Vietnam was necessary due to the importance and complexity of pig marketing.
Based on the situation analysis, the participatory technology development designed for
each of the sub-systems included improvements in sweet potato genetic selection, root and
vine processing, and animal husbandry including feed, health, management, and fertility.
Sweet Potato and Pigs 257

Different technologies are relevant for the various sub-systems and their socio-cultural-
agronomic contexts. The following section reviews the participatory technology development
efforts undertaken by the International Potato Centre (CIP), partly funded by the Australian
Council for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), to improve each of the sub-systems
in northern and central Vietnam, and in Papua, Indonesia.

Sweetpotato Selection for Pig Feed

Vietnamese farmers grow a range of sweet potato varieties, many of which come from
China, and others of unknown origin, most of which have a low starch yield because the more
popular varieties were selected for taste for humans and not for pig feed. Sweetpotato
breeding and selection trials in Vietnam in earlier years produced two advanced clones (KB1
and K51) which have been widely adopted by farmers (Peters et al., 2005). Later trials on
another six clones, from four seasons in 2001 and 2002 identified a promising clone that
yields high total dry matter and starch content suitable for pig feed (Table 9). These selections
emphasized the total dry matter yield (DMY) from both roots and vines and the total starch
yield from the roots. Pigs do show a preference for the roots or vines of certain clones, but do
not reject any of them.
A conservative estimate of the number of local sweet potato cultivars in Papua puts the
figure at well over 1,000, with the number in a single area or community ranging between 28
and 81 (Schneider et al., 1993). Papuan farmers generally maintain all the clones that have
been informally introduced or crossed, in the absence of any systematic breeding or selection
locally. Therefore the author‘s project undertook to conduct all sweet potato breeding
activities on farms in various villages in the Baliem Valley. Trials were conducted in villages
at different elevations since sweet potato cultivars are highly site-specific. The villages were
Holima, Sinatma and Napua at elevations of 1700, 1850 and 2000m, respectively.

Table 9. The total dry matter yield (DMY) of roots and vines and starch yield of roots of
the various sweet potato clones included in varietal selection trials during three seasons
in Vietnam from 2001 to 2003 (tons/ha)

Winter 2001 Spring 2002 Winter 2002 Spring 2003** Average


Variety DMY Starch DMY Starch DMY Starch DMY Starch DMY* Starch
yield yield yield yield yield*
98-8-24 6.0 2.35 10.05 4.13 5.3 2.27 6.45 4.41 6.95 a 3.29 a
98-5-15 5.36 2.07 9.81 3.92 5.12 2.22 5.60 3.32 6.47 ab 2.88 ab
KL5 5.53 2.26 9.17 3.37 5.24 2.20 5.42 3.18 6.34 ab 2.75 abc
KL6 5.40 2.16 8.99 3.11 4.73 1.75 5.26 3.25 6.10 ab 2.57 bc
98-8-48 6.36 2.68 7.41 2.30 4.68 1.79 4.49 3.10 5.74 b 2.47 bc
98-8-118 5.83 2.05 7.94 2.52 4.6 1.55 3.58 2.46 5.49 b 2.15 c
Control 4.76 2.21 9.36 3.53 4.41 1.85 5.96 4.05 6.12 ab 2.91 ab
CV (%) 10.6 14.5
*
Letters to the right of the means indicate significant difference (P<0.05) across columns. **As peanut
oil becomes more in demand, spring fields are now increasingly allocated to peanut production in
the spring, hence reducing sweetpotato production.
258 Dai Peters

Table 10. Fresh yields and dry matter yields (DMY) from three on-farm selection trials
in the Baliem Valley, Papua, Indonesia from December 2002-May 2003 (tons/ha)

Root Yield DMY


Variety / Holima Sinatma Napua Mean Holima Sinatma Napua Mean
Clone
BB 97256-9* 30.48 17.24 7.29 18.34* 10.63 6.56 2.42 6.54*
BB 97258-2 20.84 8.40 11.20 13.48 6.62 2.55 2.67 3.95
BB 97083-4 23.46 5.15 10.93 13.18 6.49 2.11 3.62 4.07
BB 97089-12* 27.15 10.62 9.24 15.67* 10.05 3.30 3.05 5.47*
MSU 99021-5 16.04 5.11 6.93 9.36 4.08 1.24 1.84 2.39
MSU 99051-1* 22.48 9.55 10.00 14.01* 7.90 3.45 3.12 4.82*
Cangkuang* 27.77 10.89 12.53 17.06* 10.30 3.41 3.68 5.80*
Siate* a 26.39 7.91 10.04 14.78* 9.34 2.79 3.44 5.19*
Helaleke Lama b 15.91 7.73 8.89 10.84 5.28 3.07 2.91 3.75
Mean 23.39 9.18 9.67 14.08 7.85 3.17 2.97 4.66
Significance ** * NS - ** * NS -
CV ( % ) 19.10 22.30 21.10 - 19.10 25.10 21.50 -
LSD 0.05 7.75 6.70 - - 2.60 2.43 3.00 -
NS, P>0.05; *, P<0.05; ** P<0.01.
a
Siate was from Napua and previously not planted in valley sites such as Holima; it was planted here
not as a check clone, but as an introduced clone for Sinatma and Holima.
b
Local variety as control.

Due to the large number of sweet potato clones in Papua, it was anticipated that it would
be difficult to improve on the local material. The results, however, showed that some clones
had the potential for improvement over the best of the local varieties (Helalekue Lama) after
four seasons of on-farm trials (Table 10). The farmers‘ interest in these introduced clones,
even the ones that did not perform better than the local check variety, was far greater than had
been anticipated. From each on-farm trial harvest, on average at least half of the trial clones
were well received by the trial participants and their neighbours and friends.

Root and Vine Processing

Starch in sweet potato roots provides an energy source for livestock, but the roots contain
insignificant levels of protein. The crude protein content of sweet potato ranges from 1.3 to
10% on dry weight basis (Li, 1974; Purcell et al., 1976; Walter et al., 1984). In general it is
about one-third the crude protein content of corn meal. Not only is the crude protein content
low in sweet potato, but up to 40% of the total nitrogen has been found to be non-protein
nitrogen (NPN) (Purcell at al., 1976). Consequently, low level of available protein poses a
major constraint to pig growth in a sweet potato-based diet. As discussed earlier, farmers
overcome this constraint by supplementing this diet with rice bran, fish meal, soy beans or
residue, sweet potato and cassava leaves, and, to a lesser extent, commercial supplements.
In addition to low protein content, trypsin inhibitor and low starch digestibility are
additional constraints to sweetpotato-based diets. Unsatisfactory feeding efficiency has been
observed when uncooked roots are used as pig feed because trypsin inhibitors cause poor
protein digestibility (Chien and Lee, 1980; Yeh and Bouwkamp, 1985). Different levels of
Sweet Potato and Pigs 259

trypsin inhibitor activity (TIA) in sweet potato cultivars have been reported (Bradbury et al.,
1985; Dickey et al., 1984; Lin and Chen, 1980). Bradbury et al. (1984) estimated about 0.03-
2% of trypsin inhibitors present in the total protein of sweet potato. Zhang et al. (1998)
estimated sweet potato roots to be about 28% of the TIA level in the soybean seeds and found
a positive correlation between TIA and protein content in roots. Therefore, the sweet potato-
based diet, if not processed or cooked, may be partially responsible for poor feeding
efficiency (Lee and Lee, 1979; Yeh and Bouwkamp, 1985).
Poor starch digestibility is another major factor that has been suggested to be responsible for
low feed efficiency (Yeh and Bouwkamp, 1985; Tsou and Hong, 1989). Sweet potato starch
needs to be broken down by some form of processing for complete uptake. To overcome
these constraints, farmers in China and Vietnam diligently cooked sweet potato-based feed
daily to eliminate trypsin inhibitor and increase starch digestibility. In turn, the farmers pay
the price of high labor and fuel inputs. Where labor or fuel is in short supply, thus limiting the
cooking option, as in Uganda and Papua, farmers suffer the consequences of low growth rate
and minimum economic return on the investment. The need to cook in order to fully utilize
the nutrients in sweetpotato-based feed becomes a socio-cultural limitation to pig growth in
sweetpotato-based diets.
Storage is another constraint facing sweet potato farmers in the sub-tropical and tropical
zones. While Chinese farmers can store roots up to six months because sweet potato in China
is grown in temperate climates and harvested at the beginning of the winter; tropical farmers
cannot store the roots without some major loss due to weevils, rats, and/or rotting (Ray and
Ravi, 2005). To minimize losses, farmers often feed large quantities of roots to pigs during
the first two months after harvest, which leads to waste since an excessive quantity of starch
does not lead to proportional growth. On the other hand, soon after that farmers may no
longer have any starch sources until the next harvest. Low storability of the roots in the
tropics and sub-tropics leads to unbalanced feeding and waste of nutrients.
In an attempt to overcome these constraints without requiring extra inputs, sweet potato
root and vine processing technology development in Vietnam had four objectives: (1) to
increase nutritional value, (2) to eliminate the need for cooking, (3) to increase storability and
shelf-life, and (4) to save labor.
The production of vine silage enables the women to process the vines during the off-
season when labor is more abundant, and store the silage for use when feed is limited.
Moreover, there is also the economic advantage of ensiling/storing vines, by processing and
storing the sweetpotato vines during the harvest season when vines are cheap and feeding
them to pigs during the off-season when vines are expensive. Ensiling may also increase
nutritional value and feed efficiency if it involves a fermentation process which can convert
nitrogen into protein.
A silage trial was conducted in Vietnam to compare the nutritional value of twelve
different ensiled mixtures of sweetpotato vines, corn and cassava meal, rice bran, sun-dried
chicken manure and salt. The nutritional analysis showed that vines ensiled with chicken
manure had significantly higher crude protein, dry matter and ash contents, and lower unit
costs for each nutrient than the other silage products (Table 11). None of the preparations
were found to contain aflatoxin or Salmonella. Escherichia coli, although present in the
original samples, disappeared after 14–21 days of fermentation (Peters et al., 2001a). A
simple and inexpensive vine-chopping machine was introduced which transformed hours of
260 Dai Peters

work into minutes and this has been adopted by farmers in several provinces as a labor-saving
device.

Table 11. Nutrient composition of 90-day sweet potato vine silage in Vietnam
(% of dry matter basis)

Treatments1 pH Dry matter Crude protein Ash Ether extract Crude fiber
(DM) (CP) (EE) (CF)
1 a3.65 a25.04 bc14.86 b11.85 b3.43 bc17.04
2 b3.98 c31.31 e18.59 d16.46 bc3.53 abc15.66
3 a3.71 b28.57 b14.32 a10.7 de5.01 bc16.69
4 b3.99 c31.85 e18.62 de17.35 c4.14 abc15.19
5 a3.73 a25.72 a13.19 bc12.25 a2.44 bc16.64
6 bc4.05 c30.09 d17.63 de17.1 ab2.99 ab14.47
7 a3.75 b28.47 a12.76 a10.16 ab2.96 a13.97
8 bc4.03 c31.92 d17.53 de17.33 b3.23 a13.98
9 a3.66 a25.85 c15.45 c13.54 e5.62 c17.32
10 c4.12 c31.63 e19.11 e18.34 de5.41 abc16.06
11 a3.74 b29.26 a12.60 ab11.45 de5.21 abc15.95
12 b4.03 c31.45 d17.78 de17.16 d4.91 abc15.11
P 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
with
chicken manure 4.03 31.38 18.21 17.29 4.04 15.08
without
chicken manure 3.70 27.15 13.86 11.66 4.11 16.27
1
The even numbered treatments contain 10% sun-dried chicken manure while the odd numbered ones
do not. The other ingredients include 3-6% of various combinations of corn meal, cassava meal,
and rice bran.
2
Letters to the left and to the right of the means are significantly different (P<0.05) across rows or
columns respectively.

The use of sweet potato roots as feed faces the constraints of low protein content, poor
starch digestibility, high trypsin inhibitor, and limited storage time. To overcome these
constraints, farmers in China and Vietnam diligently cook sweet potato-based feed daily to
eliminate trypsin inhibitor and increase starch digestibility.
In turn, the farmers pay the price of high labor and fuel inputs. Where labor or fuel is in
short supply, limiting the cooking option, farmers suffer the consequences of low pig growth
rate and minimum economic return on their investment. Such is the case in Papua and Soroti
where roots are fed raw three out of every four times and the pig growth is exceedingly slow
(discussed below). The need to cook in order to fully utilize the nutrients in sweetpotato-
based feed becomes a socio-cultural limitation to pig growth in sweet potato-based diets.
In an attempt to overcome these constraints without requiring extra inputs, sweet potato
root silage was tested to address the constraints of storability, protein content, starch
digestibility, and trypsin inhibitor. The first root silage trial tested twelve different ways of
ensiling sweet potato roots. Six treatments with sliced sweet potato roots and six with grated
roots were ensiled with cassava leaf meal, rice bran, sun-dried chicken manure and salt. The
laboratory analysis showed that silage with chicken manure and cassava leaf meal had
Sweet Potato and Pigs 261

significantly higher crude protein content than rice bran silage (p< 0.001) (Table 12).
However, only treatments with chicken manure had higher dry matter and ash content than
the other silage products. No difference was found between chopped or grated roots. Results
on aflatoxin, Salmonella and E. coli were the same as in the vine trial (Peters et al., 2002).

Table 12. Nutrient composition of the 90-day sweet potato root silage (% of dry basis) in
Vietnam

Treatments1 pH DM CP CF EE Ash
Fresh roots 18.64 4.35 4.74 1.02 4.02
bc c
1 (20% rice bran) a3.28 a27.63 a9.18 12.17 9.00 b9.13
bc a
2 (20% CLM*) a3.31 ab28.85 c16.62 11.31 4.69 ab8.42
a a
3 (20% CM**) e4.09 c30.48 c16.59 8.85 3.82 d16.50
ab b
4 (10% RB, 10% CM) c3.69 bc29.30 b13.35 9.70 6.03 c13.15
ab a
5 (10 CLM, 10 CM) d3.81 c30.75 c17.10 9.53 4.36 c12.39
bc b
6 (10 RB, 10 CLM) b3.48 ab28.51 b13.17 10.92 6.30 ab8.63
P 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000
With CM 3.91 30.00 15.14 9.36 4.74 14.79
With CLM 3.38 29.09 14.93 11.11 5.54 8.47
1
CLM: cassava leaf meal, CM: chicken manure, RB: rice bran. Six treatments used grated roots and
six treatments used sliced roots.
2
Letters to the left of the means are significantly different (P<0.05) across rows.

Based on the results of sweet potato varietal selections, root and vine processing, and
balanced crop-feeding methods, a manual covering these issues and pig health was produced
in Vietnamese for farmers and extensionists.
This manual was later published in English but covered only the issues that had been
researched (i.e., the section on pig health was not included) (Peters et al., 2001b). In 2006 an
updated manual, which included the use of both sweet potato and other local feedstuffs,
became available as a training and technical guide for extensionists and researchers (Tinh et
al., 2006).
Due to the large volume of sweet potato root and vine production in China, particularly in
Sichuan Province, it is logical to consider manufacturing dry pellet feed with sweet potato as
the major ingredient instead of maize. This is particularly relevant in Sichuan where there has
been an enormous increase in small-scale rural backyard feed manufacturing in recent years.
If the technology can be developed, such feed could have large implications for animal feed
production and marketing in China.
A premix developed by the Sichuan Academy of Animal Sciences (SAAS) contains a
mixture of amino acids, minerals and vitamins, and a protein concentrate to supplement a
sweetpotato-vines/roots based diet that is deficient in these elements. SAAS experimentations
indicated 20% improvement in feed efficiency by using premix while achieving 30%
improvement by supplying protein concentrate while lowering the feed/kg weight gain cost
by 15-20% (Zou, 2002).
262 Dai Peters

Pig Husbandry

On-farm feeding trials followed the processing trials in Vietnam to test the effects of
these silage feeds on pig growth. Sweet potato vine silage feed trials compared vines ensiled
with cassava meal and vines ensiled with sun-dried chicken manure and cassava meal in
terms of pig growth and economic efficiency. The results showed that pigs fed the preparation
containing chicken manure achieved statistically higher growth rates than those fed fresh
vines (Table 13). The chicken manure preparation was also significantly cheaper (cost per kg
of weight gain) than the other two preparations (Peters et al., 2001b).
Another root silage trial compared the effects of cooked fresh sweet potato roots (T1),
uncooked root silage with rice bran (T2), and uncooked root silage with sun-dried chicken
manure (T3) on growth and economic efficiency. The results showed the daily weight gain of
T3 pigs to be 640g, 605 g for T2 pigs, but only 552 g for the T1 control pigs (Table 14). These
differences are not statistically significant because of small numbers of pigs (n=42) and a
large standard deviation, resulting from high variation among the seven households and the
types of pigs. The most important result was that the modest increase of growth was achieved
without cooking, which is both labor intensive and fuel demanding. With such constraints
lifted, farmers subsequently tripled their pig production (Peters et al., 2002).
A number of silage trials followed to help farmers manage the seasonal variation of feed
sources. Trials were conducted to combine cassava roots with sweet potato vines, sweet
potato roots with peanut stems, and sweet potato roots with sweet potato vines. These trials
compared the use of fresh, dried, and ensiled roots, vines and stems on pig growth so that
farmers could have a host of choices of feeding methods and combinations. One trial result
showed that feeding sweet potato roots ensiled with 15% fresh sweet potato vines yielded the
same pig growth with less cash input: this silage uses up the farm crop while yielding better
economic efficiency (Peters et al., 2005).

Table 13. Performance traits of pigs fed ensiled sweet potato vines under on-farm
conditions in Vietnam

100% 93.5% sweet potato 83.5% sweet potato


fresh sweet potato vine, 6% cassava vine, 6% cassava meal,
vine meal, 0.5% salt 10% chicken manure,
Weight 0.5% salt P
Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
Initial weight (kg) 20.35 3.24 20.75 4.06 21.85 3.92 0.657
Final weight (kg) 60.40a 7.79 66.10ab 10 73.40b 10.47 0.018
Total weight gain (kg) 40.05a 7.86 45.35ab 8.18 51.55b 7.99 0.013
Daily weight gain (g) 431a 488ab 554b
Relative weight gain (%) 100.00 113.20 128.70
Feed cost 10784 8875 7383
(vnd**/kg weight gain)
*
Letters to the right of the means indicate significant different (P<0.05) across columns (Tukey test by
Minitab 12.21).
**
vnd = Vietnamese dong.
Sweet Potato and Pigs 263

Table 14. Performance traits of pigs fed fresh sweet potato (SP) roots and two types of
grated sweetpotato root silage under on-farm conditions in Vietnam

100% fresh SP 79.5 SP roots, 20% 79.5 SP roots, 20%


roots cooked rice bran, uncooked manure, uncooked
Weight (T1) (T2) (T3) P
Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
Initial weight (kg) 21.75 4.78 22.96 2.86 21.89 2.86 0.628
Final weight (kg) 70.96 13.31 76.82 12.19 78.93 10.58 0.208
Total weight gain (kg) 49.21 9.92 53.86 10.04 57.04 8.73 0.108
Daily weight gain (g/d) 552 186 605 158 640 145 0.283
Rate of weight gain (%) 226 234 261
Cost wt. gain (vnd/kg) 6724 7354 6767
*
Results not significantly different due to large SD. SD is large because: 1) high degree of variability
across households, 2) variation in pigs, and 3) some pigs like silage feed, some do not.

As farmers in northern Vietnam increase peanut production to meet the demand for
export peanut oil processing, the use of peanut stems as feed has the potential of contributing
considerably to rural incomes. Responding to farmers‘ need to turn the voluminous, currently
unusable peanut stems into a viable pig feed, trials were designed to seek ways of ensiling
these stems alone or with sweet potato roots. The results showed that sweet potato roots
ensiled with 15%, 30% or 45% peanut leaves, had higher pH (i.e., not as acidic) and crude
protein levels than roots ensiled with an equal amount of sweet potato vines. This generates
additional income because peanut stems have no cash value while the price of sweet potato
vines for pig feed can be quite high during the off-season. A pig-feeding trial showed that
pigs grew faster with the treatment of sweet potato roots ensiled with 15% peanut stems than
those ensiled with 30% peanut stems or 15% sweet potato vines.
As farmers increase pig production as the result of the uncooked diet with silage, many
now raise enough pigs per cycle to utilize the manure for biogas production while applying
the residue as fertilizer. Biogas utilization can help transform the kitchen from slow and
smoke-filled firewood cooking to clean and rapid gas cooking. Farmers may be able to afford
such construction with the extra income generated from improved pig production.
While pig husbandry interventions in Vietnam mainly focused on feed, the emphases in
Papua have been more diverse. While the Dani farmers have extensive knowledge regarding
sweet potato cultivation, their knowledge of pig management is limited, despite the fact that
they have adopted the cultivation of sweet potato for less than 500 years while they have
raised pigs much longer.
The widespread pig diseases in the Baliem Valley made it clear that if health was not
addressed, the improvement of nutrition would be in vain. A disease survey in the Baliem
Valley, based on the clinical post-mortems of 37 pigs from several villages showed that
parasites was the most important single disease problem in the Baliem Valley (Cargill, 2003).
Both parasites with a direct life-cycle, as well as parasites with an indirect life-cycle, were
recorded. Modifying husbandry techniques to reduce parasite burdens and limit their impact
on production was suggested as a sustainable venue to control these different classes of
parasites.
To convert traditional husbandry techniques in Papua to confining pigs in pens 24 hours a
day, as in other places in the world, would require changes in the Dani‘s whole way of life.
264 Dai Peters

Instead of proposing this drastic measure, various modified models that take an integrated
approach to enhancing this system were planned and tested. The extended families of Dani
live in a compound called a sili, which consists of a few stick and mud structures with straw
roofs. These structures include a man‘s round hut, one or more women‘s round huts which
house the multiple wives and children, a long rectangular kitchen which consists of several
fire pits, one for each woman, and a row of rectangular pig pens across from the kitchen. In
another model the women‘s hut is attached to the kitchen, which in turn is attached to the pig
pens. There is little separation of the humans and pigs, and pigs often eat human feces and
walk freely around the kitchen and over the food.
The modified design proposed to set aside a laleken, which is a holding field behind the
pig pen that is large enough for pigs to roam, graze, and root for worms. High protein grasses
can be planted in the laleken in a closed-in area so that pigs cannot get out to access human
feces. This modified system is designed to address various problems with the following
specific points built into the design:

 Separate human feces from pigs in order to break the chain of diseases.
 Plant live fences around the laleken consisting of tree species whose leaves can be
used as pig feed while the fast-growing tree can be cut for firewood. This avoids the
high expense of wood fences and allows the farmers to build a laleken large enough
for pigs to find sufficient feed during the day. Three genera of trees (Glyricidium,
Calliandra, and Erythrina) were recommended by the World Agro-forestry Center
(ICRAF) for this purpose. Mulberry (Morus sp.) leaves have been tested as pig feed
at the Livestock Research Center of Indonesia (Balitnak) with success, and thus were
also included.
 Plant fodder trees in a few places in the laleken in order to provide shade.
 Plant high protein grasses identified in the local area, such as wurikaka, a local
grass eaten by pigs and often by humans, with 18.3% of crude protein. Two
other grasses, Calopogonium sp. (17.1%) and Sida rhombifolia (15.5%) also
have higher protein and lower fiber content than introduced forage grasses such
as Paspalum atratum. and Stylosanthes guianensis (Table 15).
 Retain pigs in the laleken to eat forage grasses and root for worms during the day
and return them to pens at night to prevent them from being stolen.
 Provide a water container and a pool in the laleken where pigs are kept—the
former for drinking water and the latter for pigs to wallow in when the
temperature gets high.
 Separate the laleken into various paddocks—while one is being grazed; fallowed
grasses are growing in the other ones.
 Cultivate sweet potato fields behind the laleken with clones of high dry matter
yield in roots and/or high protein yield in vines to provide easy access of feed.
Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), which is also known as a pig feed,
was introduced to test its adaptability in the Baliem Valley, but proved not
adaptable to the local environment.
Sweet Potato and Pigs 265

Table 15. Nutritional contents of local grasses and introduced alternative forage feed
sources in the Baliem Valley, Papua, Indonesia

% Crude protein % Crude fiber


Locally found grasses (on dry basis) % Water (on dry basis)
Wurikaka 18.32 7.70 30.96
Calopogonium 17.13 8.43 31.86
Sida rhombifolia 15.48 8.89 32.05
Dokop 13.80 10.15 28.00
Yelaga 13.78 7.77 28.03
Girimi 11.81 8.07 --
Lukaka 11.19 9.46 26.98
Suwiriwi 10.55 9.98 27.77
Jagat 6.53 7.64 37.69
Introduced forage crops
Stylosanthes guianensis 12.18 9.17 34.64
Paspalum 8.90 8.35 34.36
Setaria 6.39 8.34 27.02
Sweetpotato vine* 16-20 14-22
*
CP content of sweetpotato vines varies with the varieties.

Other related trials were also designed and tested to complement the overall design of the
modified management system. All the trials were implemented on farm by the local farmers,
under the supervision of project personnel. These included:

 Nutrition and feeding trials. These trials were designed to test the effects of feeding
cooked sweet potato roots or silage, instead of mainly uncooked roots (the roots are
cooked only 28% of the time), on pig growth. Unlike in Vietnam where a wide range
of supplemental crop feeds is available, the available feed here is limited to sweet
potato roots and vines, rice bran that is used for silage, and banana trunks. So far the
results have shown the positive effects on growth of feeding cooked roots, and the
effects of silage were also tested.
 Water-intake trials. Local pigs are rarely given water except the water that comes
with the occasionally cooked roots. It was hypothesized that the lack of water has
adverse effects on pig growth, though it is highly possible that pigs find enough
water while roaming in the forest. It was also speculated that local pigs may have
evolved to need less water than exotic pigs. The water-intake trials tested the effects
of a constant water supply versus water that only comes with cooked roots on local
and exotic pigs. The bewildering result from the trial is the observation that a higher
water intake seems to contribute significantly to growth for local pigs while it made
little difference for the exotic pigs. Further trials with greater control are needed
before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
 Disease control with laleken trials. It was hypothesized that pigs kept in the laleken
are less susceptible to parasites and therefore grow faster. The trial consisted of three
treatments: (A) small laleken with a dunging area, (B) medium-size laleken without a
dunging area, and (C) large laleken without a dunging area to control disease but
266 Dai Peters

large enough provide additional feed. The laboratory results of the post-mortem of
one pig from each group showed worms in kidney, stomach, and intestines in groups
B and C, but no worms were found in Group A. This result, combined with the
growth data, suggests that: (1) a small laleken or a dunging area is helpful in
controlling parasites, and (2) a larger laleken provides additional feed that
compensates for the disadvantage of parasites. Therefore, one can hypothesize that
the combination of having enough space to root for additional feed and having a
dunging area will help reduce parasite burden while improving growth. A subsequent
trial, which is currently underway, was designed specifically to test this hypothesis.
 Fertility trial. The post-mortems, the systematic observations of sow/piglets, the long
nursing period (up to 6 months), and the post-weaning practice (lack of boar
stimulation) all indicated significantly below-average fertility. A fertility trial tested
the length of time for freshly-weaned sows to come into heat with boar stimulation.
The data showed the sows were more likely to mate, came into heat in fewer days,
have a higher conceiving rate, and bore a greater number of piglets when placed
close to a boar (Table 16).

The pig husbandry situation of Soroti resembles that of the Baliem Valley and a number
of the research trials on the improvements in the Baliem Vally are relevant to Soroti.
Nevertheless, the applications of these research results must be adapted according to the local
specificities. In the case of Soroti, where pig diet consisted of few protein sources, Okoth and
Epechu (1997) identified maize bran, sunflower cake (sunflower oil residue), and small fish
as locally available feed supplements at affordable prices. Epechu (personal communication)
later further encountered the availability of cow‘s blood from one local slaughterhouse, which
slaughters ten cattle each day, as a free feed. He collected 40 liters of blood a day and
processed it by boiling and drying. This dried blood was then mixed with maize bran and
other feed, and he then noticed its positive effect on pig growth. Other smaller
slaughterhouses in the district also have free blood available for feed. The appropriate
alternative protein sources to supplement the basic sweetpotato diet must be identified by
evaluating local opportunities. Supply of commercial feed supplements was unreliable in
Soroti, but cow‘s blood, the value of which was not recognized locally, was available as a
valuable supplement.

Table 16. Mating results of sows that are placed closed to a boar to provide mating
stimulation, versus the sows that are placed far from the boar and lack stimulation, in
the Baliem Valley, Papua, Indonesia

Sows close to a boar (n=10) Sows far from a boar (n=9)


Number of days takes to mate 4.7 12.5
Number of sows mated 10 7
Number of sows gave birth 7 3
Total number of piglets in the 32 9
liters
*Two sows in the group that was placed far from the boar died; one died after mating before giving
birth and one did not mate.
Sweet Potato and Pigs 267

FUTURE PROSPECTS OF SWEET POTATO-PIG FEED SYSTEMS


For poor farmers with little access to commercial feed, the sweet potato-pig feed systems
have served an important role in their livelihoods by converting low-value crops into a high-
value commodity. It has been a transitional system that sustains farmers while they gradually
move away from their poor resource base to more efficient commercial production. This trend
has been observed in the now prosperous Asian countries such as Korea and Taiwan where
the poor farmers used to engage in such feeding systems when farmers relied on sweet potato
as pig feed. During that time, researchers from Taiwan conducted trials on many aspects of
the use of sweet potato roots and vines as pig feed in order to assist farmers to improve their
pig production. These trials included the use of dried sweet potato chips as a more efficient
feed (i.e., lower cost and higher daily weight gain) than fresh roots (Koh et al., 1976). They
examined the effects of slicing and solar drying on starch digestibility and the elimination of
long cooking that was usually required of most sweet potato in order to break down the starch
to enable subsequent absorption of the nutrients by the pigs. Subsequent research explored
supplementing sweet potato chips with protein as an adequate energy source for growing
finishing pigs (Wu, 1980). Additional studies have investigated the effect of sweet potato
chips as pig feed (Wu and Chen, 1985; Wu et al., 1985; Wang et al., 1984) and explored
various methods of processing sweet potato chips in order to improve their nutritional value
(Yeh et al., 1976-77; Wu, 1980). These research efforts were invaluable to the poor farmers at
the time; along with economic development in Korea and Taiwan farmers gradually moved
into commercial production, as did the research focus.
This trend is expected to occur in China and Vietnam as these two countries make rapid
economic advancements. In addition to large feed factories, there is significant backyard
commercial feed manufacturing, though highly unregulated, and thus of unreliable quality, all
over rural China. The large feed factories have also mushroomed up and down the long coast
of Vietnam. Moreover, both the international and national research agenda on pig production
and improvement focuses on the access to, and efficient use of, commercial feed in these
countries. The general consensus is that the use of feed crops is not the most efficient
production system, considering the time and labor involved in processing the crops. Though
the poor farmers in these countries are still engaged in the sweet potato-pig feeding practice,
the resource-rich farmers with larger numbers of pigs generally rely on commercial feed.
Though this trend is also applicable to other less developed areas such as Soroti in
Uganda and Papua in Indonesia, this traditional practice is likely to persist longer due to the
slower pace of economic development and, in the case of Papua, the cultural significance of
sweet potato and pigs to humans. Thus, focusing adapting existing research results to the
specific socio-cultural-economic-agronomic conditions of such areas might yield greater
benefits for pig production improvement of poor farmers.

CONCLUSIONS
Sweet potato, supplemented by other locally available crop-based feedstuff, has made it
possible for poor farmers to raise pigs throughout Asia and parts of Africa for hundreds of
years. Pigs in turn have provided the poor farmers the badly needed, and often the only source
268 Dai Peters

of, cash, as well as manure that has sustained the soil fertility and crop productivity in the
absence of chemical fertilizer. In this sweet potato-pig feeding system, the pigs efficiently
transform the low nutrient and cash value of sweet potato into a high value and high protein
commodity. This system has, nevertheless, been beleaguered by low crude protein intake,
unbalanced feed ration, lack of protein supplement, and erratic feeding. The combination of
small amounts of investment in protein to balance the feed, improved sweet potato varieties,
processed sweet potato vines and roots, and coordinated feeding rations proved to be effective
in improving the growth and feed efficiency of the pigs. These improved measures have been
research, introduced to, and adopted by Vietnamese farmers, many of who have increased pig
production scales and thus their income. These benefits clearly demonstrate the importance of
such research and development efforts for the resource-poor farmers.
Nevertheless, the experience in Taiwan and Korea, the countries where sweet potato-pig
feeding system used to practiced, indicates that, farmers adopt the practice of commercial
feeding as they garner resources and increase their production scale. Preparing and processing
farm feed for large herds of pigs becomes a formidable task and the benefits would be offset
by the limited economy of scale of sweet potato-based feeding system; thus farmers are
expected to gradually adopt the commercial feeding practices. Thus, research and
development to improve such system should focus on areas where farmers will likely remain
limited in resources in the near future, such as in Africa and Papua. As farmers in Vietnam
and China gradually adopt commercial feeding practices, further research and development in
the areas of sweet potato-pig feeding system will have more far-reaching benefits in Africa
and Papua where sweet potato is cultivated for both human and pig consumption.

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In: Sweet Potato: Post Harvest Aspects in Food ISBN 978-1-60876-343-6
Editors: R. C. Ray and K. I. Tomlins © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Chapter 10

SWEET POTATO UTILIZATION, STORAGE,


SMALL-SCALE PROCESSING AND MARKETING
IN AFRICA

Keith Tomlins1, Debbie Rees1, Claire Coote1, Aurélie Bechoff1,


Julius Okwadi1, Jaquelino Massingue1, Ramesh Ray2 and
Andrew Westby1
1
Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Central Avenue,
Chatham Maritime, Kent, ME4 4TB, UK
2
Regional Centre, Central Tuber Crops Research Institute,
Bhubaneswar 751 019, India

ABSTRACT
Sweet potato production in Africa accounts for 11% of global production. It is
becoming increasingly recognised as an important crop is Africa, particularly with higher
global prices of wheat and other food crops and also its importance in food security.
However, the post-harvest aspects, particularly processing and marketing are still very
much under developed. The new biofortified orange-fleshed varieties, that contain pro-
vitamin A, have great potential to contribute to improved health, particularly in the rural
communities. The main challenges for the crop in Africa with respect to post-harvest
issues include firstly the reduction in storage pests, particularly weevils because damage
can reduce the market value and shelf-life, secondly increasing yields and thirdly
improving the marketing systems along the value chain. Improving the consumer
perception of sweet potato is important because it is still widely considered to be a ‗poor
persons‘ crop. This is particularly vital now that biofortified orange fleshed sweet potato
containing pro-vitamin A is increasingly more widely available and can contribute to
improved health. This chapter refers to work undertaken to reduce storage pests, reducing
losses during transport and marketing and consumer studies to explore marketing issues.
272 Keith Tomlins, Debbie Rees, Claire Coote et al.

ABBREVIATIONS
LC-MS liquid chromatography- mass spectrometry;
OFSP Orange fleshed sweet potato;
SSA Sub-Saharan Africa;
QTLs Quantitative trait loci;
WFSP White fleshed sweet potato

INTRODUCTION
Sub-Saharan Africa produces more than 13.5 million tonnes of sweet potato annually
(approximately 11% of global production). Since the early 1960s, production in Africa has
increased more than fourfold (to 410% of 1960 production) (FAOSTAT 2009). Most
production in Africa is predominantly in East Africa (7.6 million tonnes), but it is also widely
grown in West Africa (4.3 million tonnes) although less is known about the crop in this
region. Sweet potato is a staple in Africa‘s densely populated, intensively cultivated mid-
elevation farming areas. Africa‘s main producers are Nigeria (3.5 million tonnes/annum),
Uganda (2.6 million tonnes/annum), Tanzania (960,000 tonnes/annum), Rwanda (940,000
tonnes/annum), Kenya (800,000 tonnes/annum) and Angola (700,000 tonnes/annum). The
largest producers on a per capita basis (2003) are Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda (84 to 116 kg
per capita per year) (FAOSTAT, 2009). However, the countries that export the most sweet
potato from Africa are Egypt, Ghana and South Africa. Sweet potato is regarded as a food
security crop, mainly because of its reliable yields under marginal conditions with minimal
inputs or intermittent care. It is easily propagated and grows with minimal or no inputs on
degraded soils under a range of rainfall patterns. As a robust short season crop, it has
frequently proven its usefulness as an adversity recovery crop. This is an advantage for low-
income households whose members depend on diverse livelihood strategies. One of its most
important characteristics is its flexible growing season, which allows piecemeal harvesting
over a 3–10-month period. However infestation by sweet potato weevil during dry seasons
restricts this practice. It is also often widely marketed on a small-scale in rural areas. It is
eaten primarily in fresh form, either boiled or roasted. The demand for fresh roots is growing
in urban areas, where it is used mainly as a low-cost substitute for bread with breakfast or tea.
While most sweet potato consumed is white or yellow fleshed, orange fleshed sweet
potato (OFSP) that is biofortified with pro-vitamin A, is increasingly becoming more
widespread in production and consumption, particularly in Eastern and Southern Africa.
OFSP is important because more than 3 million children under the age of five suffer from
vitamin A-related blindness in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This deficiency is also one of the
leading causes of early childhood death, and a major risk factor for pregnant women in
Africa. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to introduce more vitamin A into the
diet is to eat OFSP. This type of sweet potato is rich in β-carotenes that the body converts
easily into vitamin A. OFSP varieties are as easy to grow as traditional white fleshed varieties
currently grown and marketed and the market price is similar. Adding 100 g of the sweet


Corresponding author: Email: k.i.tomlins@gre.ac.uk
Sweet Potato Utilization, Storage, Small-Scale Processing and Marketing… 273

potato to the daily diet can prevent vitamin A deficiency in children, dramatically reduce
maternal mortality and lower the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS (van
Jaarsveld et al., 2005). Studies have shown (Low et al., 2001, Kapinga et al., 2005) that
addressing Vitamin A deficiency alone should reduce the overall mortality among children
under six by nearly 23%. Ex –ante impact assessment study indicated that introducing the
new high-β carotene varieties that meet local preferences would benefit an estimated 50
million children under the age of six who are currently at risk in addition to significant
benefits for childbearing women (Low et al., 2001, 2007).
In Africa, the production, marketing and consumption of sweet potato is still largely at
the small-scale level with processing only involving household or small- scale enterprises. In
some locations, sweet potato may be dried or boiled and dried to provide access to the crop in
the dry season. In ground storage of fresh sweet potato is not possible because of problems
with weevil infestation.
Post-harvest issues regarding sweet potato in Africa concern storage, transportation and
shelf-life, consumer acceptance, processing, marketing and reducing the impact of storage
pests.

STORAGE OF FRESH SWEET POTATO IN AFRICA


Sweet potato in the fresh form has a limited shelf-life and this can limit availability and
marketing opportunities for the farmers and those in the value chain. Storage of fresh sweet
potato to extend the season has been practised in a number of tropical countries but with
varying degrees of success. In developed countries, storage for one year is feasible (Woolfe,
1992) because the product has a higher market price so that control of temperature and
humidity is economically viable. However, in developing countries, with limited resources,
limited access to information and with a crop of marginal value, storage is not commonly
practised. Traditional storage technologies have been reported in tropical countries such as
Bangladesh (Jenkins, 1982) and India (Prasad et al., 1981, Ray and Ravi, 2005). In Africa it
has been reported in Kenya (Karuri and Ojijo, 1994, Karuri and Hagenimana, 1995), Uganda
(Hall and Devereau, 2000) Malawi (Woolfe, 1992) and Tanzania (Rees et al., 2003a, b;
Tomlins et al., 2007b). The success of these low cost storage technologies, however, has been
variable (Ray and Ravi 2005). A wide range of factors affecting storage have been
investigated and these include the type of store (pit or heap), variety and ventilation which
were monitored by measuring O2 and CO2 levels, relative humidity, temperature, root
condition and weight loss (van Oirschot et al., 2007). The findings indicated that the main
factors that improved storability of fresh sweet potato under tropical conditions were the use
of good-quality roots free of damage and disease, not lining the stores with grass, and
avoiding temperature build-up in the stores (Ray and Ravi, 2005). Factors that had minimal
influence on storage were the type of store (pit or heap), sweet potato variety and ventilation.
The study concluded that fresh roots could be stored for up to 12 weeks and that, by this time,
stored roots may taste sweeter than freshly harvested ones.
In Africa, a factor that can reduce the wider acceptance of methods for storing sweet
potato by subsistence farmers is how methods developed on a research station could be
transferred to the farmer situation (Hall and Devereau, 2000). This is because subsistence
274 Keith Tomlins, Debbie Rees, Claire Coote et al.

farmers often have access to minimal resources and therefore the risks in adopting the
methods can be high. How farmers adopt technology has been explored in Tanzania (Tomlins
et al., 2007b) and in Uganda (Hall and Devereau, 2000). A combination of on-station and on-
farm trials was used to test the feasibility of the method and social compatibility of low-cost
storage technologies. The researchers reported that, although the on-station trials provided
broad guidelines for store development, specific requirements needed to be devised in
conjunction with farmers. In Tanzania, based on the results of on-farm testing that involved
20 subsistence farmers, while both the pit and heap storage methods were suitable (Figure 1),
practical and simple improvements were necessary, without which losses in the proportion of
market-quality roots from the store could be as high as 79%. These practical improvements
were mainly concerned with the position of stores on the farms that ensured that the stores
were shaded from direct sunlight and such that they could not be flooded with rainwater. The
addition of a novel new step, dehaulming by removing the plant canopy at least 7 days before
harvest also improved the recovery of market–quality roots by 48%. However, although the
storage methods were developed in order to improve farmer income, most farmers said they
would use the stored roots as a subsistence staple for household food security. Furthermore,
when transferring methods from the research station to the farm, it is necessary to target those
most able to adopt the approach. Additionally, the farmers considered that local market
traders may not be keen to sell stored roots. This suggests that for a successful storage
strategy to be developed, other actors in the value chain, such as market traders and
consumers, need to be included in the process of transferring methods from the research
station to the farm. This illustrates that research to improve livelihoods often requires both
technological and socio-economic interventions.

Figure 1. Examples of the construction of heap and pit stores in the Lake Zone of Tanzania (Tomlins et
al., 2003).

EFFECT OF TRANSPORT OF SWEET POTATO ON THE


SHELF-LIFE AND MARKETING
In much of Africa, in particular East Africa, sweet potato is now increasing being
marketed in urban centres. Marketing systems, however, are usually poorly developed
resulting in significant losses in quality (Ndunguru et al., 1998; Thomson et al., 1997). Sweet
Sweet Potato Utilization, Storage, Small-Scale Processing and Marketing… 275

potato roots attract a significant discount (10 to 30%) when shrivelled, cut or broken.
Monitoring the damage during handling is key to understanding the causes of the losses and
developing means of overcoming them. Fresh sweet potatoes are transported in sacks that can
weigh up to 200kg, they are often piled high on lorries and trucks and people are allowed to
sit and walk on the sacks (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Examples of poor handling of sweet potato in Tanzania.


276 Keith Tomlins, Debbie Rees, Claire Coote et al.

In contrast, for export, partitioned fibreboard cartons filled with between 13.6 and 18.2
kg roots are recommended (Medlicott, 1990). Until recently, little was known about the
handling, transport and quality of sweet potatoes in East Africa or where the critical stages in
the handling and transport that reduce returns for sweet potato growers occurred. Part of the
problem was that the sacks were often transported over 300km and hence are difficult to
follow. A novel solution was to use an ‗electronic sweet potato‘ (Figure 3), fitted with impact
loggers, which was located at the centre of each sack (Tomlins et al., 2000). In a study in
Tanzania (Tomlins et al., 2000), commercial consignments of sweet potato sacks (100 kg),
cv. Polista and SPN/0, were surveyed, over two seasons, from harvest to markets at Mwanza
and Dar es Salaam. Poor handling and transport resulted in up to 20% of roots with severe
breaks and between 35% and 86% with severe skinning injury. Reductions in market value
were up to 13%. The novel ‗electronic sweet potato‘ (Tomlins et al., 2000) (Figure 3) was
used to follow sacks from the field to the market. The ‗electronic sweet potato‘ had sensors
which measured the size of any impacts or vibration that the sacks were subjected to.
Analysis of the results from the ‗electronic sweet potato‘ indicated that the most severe
impacts (greater than 20g) occurred during unloading and loading from road vehicles and
ships. An example output showing the impacts on a sack transported 300km over a 21 hour
time period is illustrated in Figure 4. While it had been assumed that the most severe impacts
would have the strongest correlation with root injury, a large number of minor impacts
between 0.2 and 2 g had the most significant correlation with skinning injury and broken
roots (Figure 5). The responses were generally not affected by variety or season. The
excessive weight (up to 200kg) and size of the sacks makes them difficult to manhandle and
transport effectively and along with vibrational damage during transport and dropping during
loading and unloading activities results in the most severe losses in value. Changes in
management and packaging, if economically practical, are suggested. Changes in packaging
(use of fibreboard boxes) also reduced skinning injury and broken roots by 72% and 60%
respectively (Tomlins et al., 2002).

Figure 3. Electronic sweet potato design showing the shock, temperature and humidity dataloggers
fitted inside a plastic pipe (6.5 cm diameter and 16 cm in length) (Tomlins et al., 2000).
Sweet Potato Utilization, Storage, Small-Scale Processing and Marketing… 277

4 100
sack loaded