Rice and Laoka -The Meal in Madagascar
Sweet potatoes are an important part of a traditional Malagasy diet, eaten in two ways: sweet potato leaves in ‘laoka” a leafy greens soup, traditionally eaten with rice at meals. (See rice on our website). The other way is to eat the boiled tubers, or sweet potatoes as the meal. Commonly eaten as a substitute by people who cannot afford or get rice, that Malagasy staple food #1. Currently sweet potatoes are grown and eaten in both of our villages. “Two varieties: white like potatoes and violet. People like the violet, because it is very sweet.”
In an attempt to diversify crops we have a plan: Get as many varieties of sweet potatoes we can get a hold of to our village master gardeners and see if they can successfully grow them in their climate. This might be as easy as getting somebody to visit the markets in the capital and buy all the varieties available, or as far reaching as having travelers bring some back from other parts of the country and contacting research institutions for other, or new varieties. Should a new variety prove successful sweet potato will become part of Zahana’s “Seed Fund”.
The cultural acceptance of sweet potatoes is very beneficial. Sweet potato leaves are highly nutritious and high in vitamin B, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, zinc and protein. Other compounds, such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have become the focus of research. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN) recommends to eat them daily. The tubers, or sweet potatoes themselves also have a high starch content, pro-vitamin A and a sugar that is easy to digest, even for diabetics. (Please contact us if you would like some scientific literature).
Last but not least: Bonus Day will start on Wed. March 14th, 2012 at 12:01 am EST. GlobalGiving will be matching online donations made on Bonus Day at 30% until the $50,000 in funds runs out. We hope you might think of Zahana in Madagascar on Bonus Day.
Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus
Sweet potatoes in the market in the next town