1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) was originally domesticated at least 5000 years ago in tropical America (Austin, 1988; Yen, 1982). Based on the analysis of key morphological characters of sweet potato and the wild Ipomoea species, Austin (1988) postulated that sweet potato originated in the region between the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and the Orinoco River in Venezuela. Using molecular markers the highest diversity was found in Central America, supporting the hypothesis that Central America is the primary center of diversity and most likely the center of origin of sweet potato (Huang and Sun, 2000; Zhang et al. 2000). Columbus in1492 brought it to Europe and Portuguese explorers of the sixteenth century took it to Africa, India, Southeast Asia and the East Indies. Spanish ships brought sweet potatoes from Mexico to the Philippines in the 16th century. Introduction of the sweet potato to the Pacific islands apparently occurred in prehistoric times (Yen, 1982). Fossil carbonized storage roots of sweet potato found in northern New Zealand have been dated back some 1000 years (Yen, 1991), which strongly supports the theory of prehistoric transfer, probably (though with some controversy) by Peruvian or Polynesian voyagers (Yen, 1982). The linguistic links between the Quechua and Polynesian names for sweet potato, support the Peruvian origin and human transfer of the Polynesian sweet potato. However, studies based on molecular markers showed that Peruvian sweet potatoes are not closely related to those from Papua New Guinea (Zhang et al. 1998) and are also different from those of Mesoamerica (Zhang et al 2000). It was suggested that the Oceania sweet potato probably came from Central America, through non-human dispersal (Rossel et al. 2001).
To China the crop was apparently introduced in the late 16th century by ship from Luzon in the Philippines to Fujian of China (O’Brien, 1972). The year 1594 was a famine year, and a huge area of crops were destroyed. The governor of Fujian ordered farmers to grow sweet potatoes extensively, in order to stave off famine (Zhang et al. 2009). Other data give information that sweet potato was introduced to China from Vietnam, India and Burma. Extension of sweet potato inside China was apparently from south to east along the coast, and from south to north through the Yangtze River and the Yellow River valleys (Anonymous, 2003).
With over 20years of experiences and connections in the palm industry we have available and fantastic organic fertilizer supplement of the highest quality in the form of empty fruit bunch ash (EFBA) available from Malaysia. Malaysia has over 4million hectares of palm oil plantation and following the extraction of the oil. The empty fruit bunches (EFB) that is left over is then put through a special incineration process to produce the high quality EFBA. The is incineration process is a very quick way of taking 26tons of high volumetric weight and otherwise useless EFB, to produce 1ton of highly nutritious easy to transport EFBA. This EFBA has long been used and recognized by planters and farmers as the best and the most economic source of (K). Potash is vitamin plant growth as it strengthens their cells, increasing their resistance to pest and disease. The requirement for potash is larger for crop bearing plants, flower and vegetables. It not only gives the basic nutrients its high pH also neutralizes the soils acidity, especially in peaty areas and acidic soils with low potash. EFBA is widely known as one of the best raw material for organic fertilizer, EFBA is recommended for all kinds of crop/plants (oil palm, rubber, cocoa, coconut, fruits, vegetables, flowers and of course sweet potato) especially for soil in low pH and potash deficient. It also suit to use on crop that couldn’t use Muriate of Potash (MOP) such as sugar cane and potato.
1.2 ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANT OF SWEET POTATO (Ipomoae batata)
Sweet potato are nutritious and delicious root vegetables, it is cream and soft enough to be an ingredient in several pie recipe, and most people think of the vegetables as a dessert ingredients. However, scientists have found that sweet potato are among the best sources of vitamin A. Sweet potato are also naturally packed with Vitamin B5, Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamin and carotenoids due to their naturally orange color. The sweet potato, also known as the Ipomoea batatas, not only contains many nutrients but it is also packed with medicinal benefits. Scientist have determined that sweet potato contain anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and anticancer properties. The benefits and economic significant of Sweet Potato includes; It helps prevent vitamin A deficiency; When harvested and sold in the market it generates income; When consumed it helps prevent diabetes; It helps manage stress levels; It contains anti-inflammatory activities; It helps protect/prevent/manage cancer; It helps in minimizing the risk of cardiovascular diseases; It contains antimicrobial properties; Sweet potato can help improve hair and skin; It aids digestion; It help in regulating blood pressure; It can boost fertility; It is important for good vision; It helps in weight management; The leaves can be use to prepare delicacies; They are memory-enhancing food.
1.3 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
This study on the effects of Empty Fruit Bunch Ash on the growth and yield of sweet potato is important to the farmers who are about to embark on sweet potato farming because of their little scholarly knowledge in Empty Fruit Bunch Ash. It will help them to know the suitable method on how to utilize the Empty Fruit Bunch into ash for sweet potato cultivation. This study will be of importance also to researching students and the society on utilizing Empty Fruit Bunch Ash for the growth and cultivation of sweet potato.
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This research is aimed at studying the effect of Empty Fruit Bunch Ash (EFBA) on the growth and yield of sweet potato.
To check the effect of Empty Fruit Bunch Ash (EFBA) specifically on the growth and yield of sweet potato.
To determine the effective use of organic fertilizer on sweet potato production.