Bill Gates Boosts NCSU's Sweet Potato Research

Sep 22, 2014

NC State University is studying how to boost sweet potato crops in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Credit Llez / Wikipedia

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving millions of dollars to North Carolina State University to research sweet potatoes.  The grant is aimed at developing new breeding tools to improve crop production in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Craig Yencho heads the university's sweet potato breeding program and is the project director.  He said sweet potatoes already feed millions of people in the region.

"It's a very hardy crop," said Yencho. "It can resist drought and heat very well.  It can be grown in a really wide range of soil types and it produces a lot of food per acre.”

Yencho says the bright orange potatoes also help reduce vitamin A deficiency across Africa.  The Gates Foundation grant totals $12.4 million.