Helping 1,300 farmers grow improved varieties of sweet potato each year

ORANGE-FLESHED SWEET POTATO IN MALAWI, AFRICA

Our sweet potato farming project is a simple and sustainable approach to overcome malnutrition, a major health issue for mothers and children in Malawi. We are helping farmers to grow improved varieties of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes – high yielding, rich in Vitamin A, and they taste good too!

Problems

  • Malnutrition is a major problem
  • The staple diet is nsima with little protein and very few vitamins
  • Locally grown white sweet potato contains fewer vitamins
  • Farmers cannot afford to purchase the vines needed to plant improved varieties

solutions

  • We support more farmers to grow orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
  • Farmers pass on vines to their neighbours at no extra cost
  • Pre-school teachers provide a sweet potato meal for every child attending  pre-school
FARMERS INVOLVED EACH GROWING SEASON
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BUNDLES OF VINES DISTRIBUTED TO EACH FARMER
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KILOS HARVESTED IN THE FIRST TRIAL SEASON
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Sweet Potato Farming in Malawi, Africa

Achievements and Future Plans

We are introducing new varieties of sweet potatoes into Nkhata Bay District. These new varieties are being grown in all our pre-schools and by many farmers in Nkhata Bay District. We hope to secure additional supplies of the improved sweet potato vines and tubers to expand the reach of the programme.

How We Work

Sweet potato vines can be planted in two different ways – to either multiply the sweet potato vines or to produce a higher yield of the crop. The farmers start with 100 tubers each and are encouraged to plant some which will produce additional vines and then, when they harvest, they have enough stems to be able to share some with other local families. This benefits more people and is a truly sustainable way to encourage communities to help each other.

£20 COULD BUY FIVE BUNDLES OF SWEET POTATO VINES​

fURTHER INFORMATION

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The project builds on a pilot project which has already proved very successful. Ripple Africa were approached by CIP (The International Potato Center) who were funded to scale up the introduction of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes into Malawi, which are higher yielding and contain higher levels of Vitamin A. CIP were looking for an NGO based in the north of Malawi to manage the distribution of the new sweet potato tubers to farmers in the area who would then report on their success at growing these and highlight any issues.

Ripple Africa is being supplied with sweet potato tubers from a supplier called Nankhwali Farm. Nankhwali focuses on five orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) varieties: Chipika, Kadyaubwerere, Kaphulira, Mathuthu, and Ana Akwanire.

Ripple Africa worked in partnership with the District Agriculture team to carry out a large scale distribution operation, giving bundles of vines to 1,300 farmers within five geographical areas of Nkhata Bay District. In each bundle, there were 100 x 30cm tubers. The District Agriculture team are keen to expand this which is why it is working so well.

These new varieties are also being grown in all our pre-schools and by many farmers in Nkhata Bay District.

Our sweet potato farming project in Africa is simple. The farmers start with 100 tubers each but, when they harvest, they have enough stems to keep some for their family and to share the rest with other local families to multiply the number of people benefiting.

District Agriculture and Ripple Africa environmental staff monitor how well the potatoes grow, measure yields and assist farmers with the ongoing distribution of their surplus tubers.

We will continue to purchase the initial stock of clean orange-fleshed sweet potato vines from Vumbwe research centre in the south of Malawi and select and train 10 commercial multiplication farmers who will multiply the vines ready for distribution to other farmers making the project sustainable.

We will continue working in partnership with District Agriculture Department teams to support the farmers and to help them maximise their yields.

We have seen improved yields from these sweet potatoes and anticipate that this success will continue. Thousands of households are growing and eating the more nutritious varieties of sweet potatoes, significantly improving their diet.

This project addresses the following Sustainable Development Goals: