Household consumption of orange - fleshed sweet potato and its associated factors in Chipata district, Eastern province, Zambia
Orange-fleshed sweet potato consumption promotion is one of the key nutrition sensitive interventions implementedto address high vitamin A deficiency among the rural population of Zambia since 2011. However, to date no study has been completed regarding household consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato and factors related to their consumption. The study detailed here therefore sought to establish the consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato, and to identify factors associated with its household consumption in the Integrating Orange Project areas in Chipata district of Zambia. The study randomly sampled 295 households, and collected information on the household characteristics, production, procurement, consumption and knowledge on orange-fleshed sweet potato. Cross tabulation chi square and one-way analysis of variance were used to identify associated consumption factors. The study found that 86.8% of the households ate orange-fleshed sweet potato; 49.5% ate it 1 to 3 days per week and 30.2% ate it at least 4 or more days per week, and only 13.2% did not consume orange-fleshed sweet potato at all. A relationship was found between having children younger than five years old and consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato (P < 0.001). Results showed that 8.7% of households with children (n=183) never ate orange-fleshed sweet potato, versus 20.5% of households without children (n=112). Production of orange-fleshed sweet potato (n=178) was found to have a relationship with household conusmption of orange-fleshed sweet potato (P < 0.001). Only 1.1% of households that produced orange-fleshed sweet potato did not consume any, versus 31.6% who did not produce orange-fleshed sweet potato. Purchasing of orange-fleshed sweet potato (n=118) was found to have a relationship with its household consumption (P < 0.001); 56.2% of the households that ate orange-fleshed sweet potato 1 to 3 days during the previous week bought it, compared to only 27.0% of households who ate orange-fleshed sweet potato more than 4 days per week among those that bought it. The respondent‘s knowledge of the health benefits of orange-fleshed sweet potato was found to have a relationship with its consumption in the household (P < 0.001). Only 7.8% of the households where respondents knew the benefits of orange-fleshed sweet potato (n=215) never ate orange-fleshed potato, compared to 50.0% of households where the respondents did not know any benefit (n=80). In contrast, 33.5% of the households where the respondents knew the health benefits ate orange-fleshed sweet potato at least 4 days a week compared to only 7.9% of households where the respondents did not know any benefit. Overall, the study showed that most households consumed orange-fleshed sweet potato. The highconsumption might be due to seasonality, as the study was done during the harvesting season of orange-fleshed sweet potato. Also, prodcution of orange-fleshed sweet potato was promoted in the study area through the Integrating Orange Project. These results therefore suggest that projects seeking to promote consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato as an intervention for vitamin A deficiency control should promote production of orange-fleshed sweet potato and sensitization of communities on the health benefits of orange-fleshed sweet potato consumption.