Contribution of Sweetpotato in the diet among households in Kasarani Division, Nairobi.
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A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out in the period between September 1998 and July 1999 to determine the contribution of sweetpotato to household food consumption in Kasarani Division, Nairobi. Before this study, little was known about the sources of sweetpotato consumed, the level of its consumption and the common methods of sweetpotato preparation among the Kasarani residents and market factors influencing its consumption. The study was two sided; dietary study (done on 322 households in the Kasarani Division), and market study (done on 45 sweetpotato traders serving Kasarani Division) . Proportionate stratified and systematic sampling methods were employed to select households and traders. Data were collected by means of questionnaires, photography, observation and informal interviews with the respondents. About 76% of the "dietary study" population consumed sweetpotato, which were obtained from local urban production, gifts from friends and relatives and the Nairobi markets. About 74% of sweetpotato consuming population obtained some tubers from both local markets and as gifts, 2.8% as gifts only, 1.6% as gifts and also from the urban production, 3.7% from both market and urban production, and 7.3% from market alone. About 10.6% of the sweetpotato consuming Kasarani residents relied on the three identified sources while nobody relied on the local production alone. About 87% of the population relying on the market for sweetpotato supply spent 3% and below of their food expendi ture on sweetpotato. The study population had consumed a median weight of 1 kg, 0 and 1.2 kg from growing, gifts and market sources respectively, every month. The sweetpotato consumed by the households contributed greatly to the households' energy and some micronutrients, e.g. iron and Vitamin C, but very little to the households' protein, and calcium requirements. Boiling was the most popular method of sweetpotato preparation in Kasarani. Production took place in the kitchen gardens, open undeveloped land and along the rail and road network. Insect" attacks were the most prevalent problem encountered by 53.8% of the sweetpotato producing population, followed by rodent attacks (43.6%) and drought (41%) among others. Consumers were sensitive to source of sweetpotato, colour of the skin and of the fresh, cost, size, and surface defects when making purchase decision. The association between the frequency of sweetpotato consumption and households' significant (p< socio-economic status was not statistically 0.05, X2= 6.4) Though the study population consumed sweetpotato, it was not at a high frequency or amount as probably other foods. Majority of the Kasarani residents consumed less sweetpotato than the entire Kasarani population's mean.