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Better incomes and health through orange-fleshed sweetpotato in Kenya FARMER HIGHLIGHTS

The three year Feed the Future Kenya Accelerated Value Chain Development (AVCD) project funded by USAID wraps up in September 2018. Under the sweetpotato value chain, implemented by the International Potato Center (CIP), meet some of the project beneficiaries whose lives have been transformed as per the projects three main objectives.

Increasing productivity and production of Orange-fleshed Sweetpotato among smallholder households

Caleb Wanyonyi and his wife Margaret have been part of AVCD since inception in 2016. The couple, blessed with 12 children, have been growing Kabode and Vita varieties of orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) on a section of their three acre farm in Ndivisi division, Bungoma County. They sell the vines to the local community as well as local non-governmental organisations who distribute to the farmers. The couple are referred to as decentralized vine multipliers (DVMs) for the role they play in availing sweetpotato planting material to their community.

Prior to start of their enterprise, the Wanyonyi's participated in a training session organised by CIP and the Ministry of Agriculture on production of OFSP vines and roots as well as marketing. They learnt how to produce and conserve clean sweetpotato planting material using low cost insect proof nets referred to as net tunnels.

Margaret inspecting a net tunnel on her farm. Photo: V.Atakos (CIP-SSA)
From the sale of the OFSP vines, we have been able to pay school fees for the children, buy food for the family and also plant other crops. I also bought a cow and more recently acquired a goat, notes Wanyonyi and his wife.

Working closely with DVM's such as the Wanyonyi family to produce clean planting material, more than 10 hectares of land is under production of OFSP vines in Western Kenya with potential to plant to 150 hectares of OFSP roots. Farmers are now growing OFSP in the main planting season.

To increase availability of quality planting material, the program worked with the plant health regulator, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate (KEPHIS), to supply 41 vine multipliers with certified tissue culture cuttings; with these vine multipliers producing and selling vines worth US$ 49,952 to sweetpotato farmers, notes Penina Muoki, the Sweetpotato Value Chain Manager.

Improving nutrition knowledge and practice at household level, utilizing OFSP more effectively as part of healthy diets, particularly for women and children under five

In Misikhu division, Western Kenya, Lilian Nasimiyu is another beneficiary of AVCD. Having received nutrition education on the importance of a balanced diet, she incorporates OFSP in her children's meals whenever she harvests the crop. Through AVCD, Lilian and other women in her community were linked to a community health volunteer who provides nutrition counselling to up to 15 women with children under five years.

Lilian Nasimiyu with her children at her home in Western Kenya. Photo: V.Atakos (CIP-SSA)
My children used to have eye problems; not anymore. We love OFSP because it is rich in Vitamin A. I dont need to buy carrots because I grow my own OFSP" says Lilian

Improving storage and marketing of fresh OFSP roots for at least 30,000 households

In Mukuyuni, Bungoma County a group of farmers have come together to produce and collectively market their OFSP. The Mlima Mukuyuni group members aggregate their OFSP and sell it to a puree ( OFSP mash) processor, Safe Produce Solutions, ensuring they have a steady market for their roots.

Puree is the intermediate raw material used in production of OFSP-derived baked foods. OFSP processors in turn have been linked to two major retailers: Tuskys and Naivas Supermarkets in Kenya.

OFSP Puree is being used to make nutritious bread in some Kenyan supermarkets. Photos S. Quinn (top left) and T. Muzhingi (CIP-SSA)

Through AVCD, the OFSP value chain has grown in vibrancy and profitability in the last two years: farmers groups have been linked to markets and sold US $ 199,892 worth of roots; with this figure projected to triple in 2018, to nearly US $ 600,000. Supply contracts, signed upfront with end buyers, have increased farmers’ confidence in the value chain’s commercial value.

With up to 60% substitution of wheat flour for the major baked products, production costs are likely to go down. The potential is huge along the sweetpotato value chain, and many young people are identifying opportunities to make money.

Substitution of wheat flour for OFSP puree will also save the country forex exchange since about 80% of wheat used in Kenya is imported.

What does the future hold?

“OFSP is useful for achieving two main goals: it has a high nutritive content of beta-carotene and huge prospects of food security for households. Production of puree provides a great opportunity—from a sustainability perspective—to grow smallholders’ incomes consistently and steadily as it provides a diverse market outlet: to bakeries, hotels, ice-cream parlors and even home consumers — in preparation of delicious and nutritious foods,” says a puree processor currently investing in OFSP.
Sweetpotato products on sale. Photo: V. Atakos (CIP-SSA)

Photos: CIP-SSA - Available on CIP Flickr Account

Created By
Vivian Atakos
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Photos: Vivian Atakos, Sara Quinn, Tawanda Muzhingi

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