Benefits and trade-offs of smallholder sweet potato cultivation as a pathway toward achieving the sustainable development goals

Nouman Afzal, Stavros Afionis*, Lindsay C. Stringer, Nicola Favretto, Marco Sakai, Paola Sakai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will shape national development plans up to 2030. SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger) and 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) are particularly crucial for the poor, given they target the basic human needs for development and fundamental human rights. The majority of poor and malnourished people in the developing world live in rural areas and engage in farming as a key part of their livelihoods, with food and agriculture at the heart of their development concerns. Crops that can provide both food and energy without detrimental impacts on soil or water resources can be particularly beneficial for local development and smallholder farmers. Sweet potato, in particular, is starting to attract growing attention from researchers and policymakers as it has the potential to address these global problems and promote a sustainable society. We systematically review the literature to assess how sweet potato can support smallholder farmers to make progress towards the SDGs. We find that sweet potato has important untapped potential to advance progress, particularly linked to its versatility as a crop and its multiple end-uses. However, further research is paramount in order to better recognise and harness its potential to address the issues of food, nutrition and energy security in the context of a changing global climate. Further investigation is also needed into the trade-offs that occur in the use of sweet potato to support progress towards the SDGs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number552
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 by the authors


  • Agriculture
  • Bioethanol
  • Biofuels
  • Energy
  • Food security
  • Livelihoods
  • Nutrition
  • Poverty
  • Resilience
  • Synergy
  • Trade-offs

Cite this