Sweet potato farming supports a community

Jul
Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Locals living in Vwiyapo and Chipoyola villages in Malawi are just two communities benefiting from the introduction of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.

Three varieties were introduced and one farmer, Mary Phiri, said, “We have embraced the orange-fleshed sweet potato idea and we have seen with our own eyes how it has changed our families, our food situation, income and life.”

The introduction of these new and improved varieties saw the community form a cooperative. They worked together to carry out their sweet potato farming. They cleared large areas of land, tended to the crops and harvested the potatoes together as they saw the potential to not only have food for their families but to generate an income too.

The chief’s wife Mrs Vwiyapo said, “The Chipika variety of sweet potato grow really big so you only need a few sweet potatoes to fill a 20 litre bucket. One sweet potato a family can prepare two meals.”

Farmers in Malawi harvest sweet potatoes  A bucket of newly harvested sweet potatoes in Malawi

Sweet potato farming is non-uncommon in Malawi but many grow yellow sweet potatoes. Chief Chipoyola is encouraging every household to grow these sweet potatoes. He said, “I prefer these new varieties because they grow quickly, contain vitamin A and we can also eat the leaves too. I am encouraging everyone to share the sweet potato vines so we can share them with neighbouring villages”.

Chief Vwiyapo invited us to help with the sweet potato harvest. Here is Project Manager Francis (far right) with the Chief and his wife. The potatoes are huge and the family will keep enough for themselves but also sell some too.

Each farmer starts 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. Sharing really is caring, take a look.

Community farmers working together to plant and harvest in Africa  A chief and his wife in Malawi store away orange fleshed sweet potatoes