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Sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas / Convolvulaceae
According to most of the sources, sweet potatoes are native to Hindustan, although some others maintain that it comes from America, particularly from Brazil and Ecuador. It is a very important culture, specially in tropical and subtropical areas.

The most recent sources obtained from the FAO are from the year 2000, showing a world-wide production of 141,069,941t. In 1999, 135,192,000 t were produced world-wide, with an increase in the world-wide production during the following year. The distribution by continents in 1999 was as follows:

ContinentThousand tons
Africa9,333
Asia122,863
Europe46
Northand Central America1,001
Oceania569
South America1,380
Total135,192

Source: Fresh Produce Desk Book 2001. Data (1999)

The continent with a greater production of sweet potatoes is Asia, followed by Africa.

In 2000, the world-wide production amounted to 141,069,941 t. These are distributed by continents in the following way:

ContinentTons
Africa9,389,536
Asia128,759,128
Europe46,231
North and Central America1,082,540
Oceania573,707
South America1,218,799
Total141,069,941

Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (2000) ( http://www.fao.org )

The continent with greater production of sweet potatoes is Asia, with 128,759,128 t. In this continent, practically the whole of the production is Chinese, with 121,023,100 t in 2000.

In Europe there are 4 countries producing sweet potatoes: Spain, with 12,000 t in 2000, Greece with 2,000 t, Italy with 10,321 t, and Portugal with 22,000 t. The leading European country in sweet potato production is Portugal, followed by Spain.

The chief countries producing sweet potatoes are:

CountryTons
China121,023,100
Uganda2,498,000
Indonesia1,927,686
Vietnam1,745,300
Nigeria1,662,000
India1,200,000
Rwanda1,032,916
Japan1,008,000
Burundi687,382
The United States of America617,500

Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (2000) ( http://www.fao.org )

Practically the totality of the world-wide production comes from China, that produces 121,023,100 t, followed by Uganda, with an annual production of 2,498,000 t.

In 2000, Spain produced 12,000 t of sweet potatoes.

The world-wide import totals 81,552 t.

The main import countries are, in the first place, Canada, followed by Italy and the United States of America. The ten first world-wide import countries are shown in the following table:

CountryTons
Canada18,543
Italy10,029
The United States of America8,026
United Kingdom6,145
France4,859
Malaysia4,389
Japan3,687
Argentina3,616
Uruguay3,229
Singapore3,001

Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (1999) ( http://www.fao.org )

Spain imported, in 1999, one thousand one hundred and ninety two tons of sweet potatoes.

In 1999, the world-wide imports amounted to 42,229 thousand dollars. Canada was the country that contributed with a greater amount of money in its imports, followed by the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The following table shows the ten first countries with greater capital contribution from their imports.

CountryThousand dollars
Canada10,967
The United States of America5,771
United Kingdom5,463
Italy3,194
France2,890
Jamaica3,194
Japan2,414
Singapore665
Uruguay641
Greece565

Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (1999) ( http://www.fao.org )

In 1999, Spain amounted to 410 thousand dollars in its imports.

The world-wide exports of sweet potatoes totalled 77,012 tons according to FAO data from 1999.

The chief export countries are, in the first place, the United States of America, followed by the Dominican Republic. The ten first world-wide exporters are included in the following table:

CountryTons
The United States of America17,917
Dominican Republic9,087
China7,534
Indonesia6,758
Israel5,359
Egypt4,219
Jamaica3,100
Brazil3,785
Poland2,748
South Africa2,633

Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (1999) ( http://www.fao.org )

Spain exported in 1999 two hundred and fifty nine tons of sweet potatoes.

World-wide exports in 1999 amounted to 34,958 thousand dollars. The country with greater economical contribution in their exports was the United States of America. The following table shows the ten countries with greater economical contribution in their exports.

CountryThousand dollars
The United States of America11,034
Israel4,564
China3,647
Dominican Republic2,908
Jamaica2,800
Indonesia1,545
France1,417
The Netherlands1,194
Italy944
United Kingdom670

Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (1999) ( http://www.fao.org )

Spain contributed with 250 thousand dollars in its sweet potato exports.

In Spain, the culture of this tubercle is barely important as compared with that of potato. It is mainly cultivated in Andalucía, the Canary Islands and Comunidad Valenciana, and less significant in Baleares, Cataluña, Murcia and Aragón.

Imports have been sporadic and in small amounts. In the last few years it has undergone a gradual increase thanks to the demand in the industrial sector (confectionery). Exports have been quite continuous, although the figures have progressively diminished.

In Spain there is a total surface of 1,058 ha of sweet potato production, and the production estimated in 1999 by communities was as follows:

AreaHectaresTons
Andalucía58312,014
Comunidad Valenciana1783,570
The Canary Islands2001,916
Baleares651,073
Cataluña22415
Aragón4120
Murcia683

Source: La Horticultura Española (2001) Sech.

The production of sweet potato in Spain is centred in Andalucía.
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