(Tetum) It was a battle of the taste buds at Loes Research Station in late-July as farmers and MAF-SoL researchers gathered to do a sweet potato blind taste test.
Ten varieties were compared for their sweetness, texture, and dryness, before two winners were awarded – a purple variety and a bright orange variety.
Research Coordinator Leandro Pereira said taste tests are done every year for each of the five major species – peanuts, rice, maize, cassava and sweet potato.
“Taste tests are a key part of MAF-SoL’s research to determine which varieties are the tastiest and highest yielding prior to release.
“In the tests we include a diverse range of local, released and new varieties to see what farmers prefer,” he said.
“All the MAF-SoL released varieties, including Hohrae 1, 2, and 3, have passed previous taste tests.”
“Taste tests are a key part of MAF-SoL’s research to determine which varieties are the tastiest and highest yielding prior to release”
Of the 10 sweet potatoes tested at Loes, five were orange fleshed, four were white and one was purple.
This is the first time the purple ‘local Baucau’ variety has been included in MAF-SoL research, and results show it was the tastiest on the day.
“I like the purple sweet potato because it’s sweet – I want to plant it,” said Carolino, a farmer from the Liquica district.
“I like the purple one because it’s sweet and the texture is good,” said another farmer, Restu do Santos.
The second place winner, an orange flesh sweet potato known as CIP 83 and high in vitamin A, is currently being tested on farms.
More than 50 farmers have been growing CIP 83 alongside their local sweet potatoes this year and last in small plots to see if they like it. This is an important part of testing before a new variety is released.
Research Advisor Rob Williams said that by growing new varieties, farmers help to increase the genetic diversity of sweet potatoes in Timor-Leste.
“In this way, diversity is expanding from the research station to the farm to the nation, increasing national genetic diversity,” he said.