Amongst the vast range of sweet potatoes in the world, one of the most sought after is the Cilembu sweet potato, a variety native to Indonesia. Although the Cilembu sweet potato has been documented since 1914, its unique qualities have only been widely understood since the early 2000s. Sweet potatoes are commonly consumed in a variety of countries, but this type is highly sought after for its flavour and nutritional value.
It is an important commodity in Cilembu and the surrounding villages of Western Java. It is exported to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. When baked, Cilembu sweet potatoes have a very distinctive aroma and delicious, sweet taste with a sugary, honey-like glaze.
Indonesia has struggled to find enough suitable land to grow the highly coveted Cilembu. As a result, the market has been flooded with similar looking sweet potatoes that are sold intentionally mislabelled under the name Cilembu. These potatoes do not have the honey-sweet flavour of the original, which poses a threat to the Cilembu's ability to stay in circulation. This is why it is currently listed as Slow Food's Ark of Taste. To support its future, specific criteria have been developed to find suitable land to grow this crop to meet consumer demand.