Uganda is now the leading producer of sweet potatoes in Africa (CIP/CGIAR). Teso sub-region, in the east of the country, has soil and weather particularly well suited to growing this crop.
The orange-fleshed sweet potato is rich in vitamin A, as well as other essential vitamins, and is a vital tool in the fight against vitamin A deficiency; a major health problem in Uganda. The deficiency affects 36% of women under 45 and 38% of children in Uganda, making it the leading cause of preventable blindness in children.
Sweet potato farmers in Teso tend to all plant and harvest at the same time, which results in farmers selling their crops in over-saturated markets, where supply is high and prices are low.
A lack of access to affordable processing and storage facilities and lack of knowledge in post-harvest handling and marketing means that there are limited opportunities for smallholders to extend their crops’ shelf life, stagger harvests or add value to their produce. These factors combine to stop subsistence farmers from making the step-change to commercial agriculture, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and food insecurity.
The project seeks to improve farmers’ post-harvest handling skills and access to processing and storage facilities, so that their crops can be sold and consumed throughout the year.
With support from a local partner organisation Farm Africa will deliver in-depth training in the effective harvesting and handling of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes via training sessions held on demonstration plots.
We will also help improve the storage and processing of the sweet potatoes. Four new solar driers are being supplied to a local production centre, where the sweet potatoes are taken to be dried. Once dried and cut into chips, the produce can be stored for three months and sold at a time when prices are more favourable to the farmer.
A production manager for the centre will be employed to work with the farmers to co-ordinate planting, harvesting and processing over a longer period so the centre can service as many farmers as possible as well as even out supply and demand issues over the course of the year.
Training on business planning, financial management, marketing and contract negotiation will help the farmers, working as a collective, to negotiate supply agreements with commercial buyers such as millers who will pay good prices for a.
Working in partnership with Soroti Sweet Potato Producers Association (SOSPPA) and farmers previously trained by Harvest Plus, Farm Africa will directly support 1,000 farmers to increase their yields and reduce their post-harvest losses. And through the SOSPPA production centre and improved market linkages we anticipate that up to 1,000 more farmers will benefit from our work.
Our project will also ensure that there is a consistent supply of this vital crop to help fight the effects of Vitamin A deficiency among the women and children of Uganda.
This project is funded by Ajahma Charitable Trust