Dickson Mobogo, a Laborer turned Sweet Potato Farmer

March 2010

For years, fifty-year-old Dickson Mobogo was a casual laborer at a school in Uganda. He lives with his wife and ten children, three of them adopted(see photo below). Dickson used to grow a few crops for the family to eat including cassava, banana and white sweet potato. But everything changed after he became involved with HarvestPlus.

Four years ago, the farmers’ group he belonged to started working with a HarvestPlus project to multiply orange sweet potato vines to distribute to farmers groups. Orange sweet potato is not traditionally eaten in Africa, but it is very high in vitamin A, a critical micronutrient that is lacking in many African diets.

Here’s what he had to say:

“We were thirty group members who agreed to start sweet potato vine multiplication for the project. My household got three bags of vines from the project. They taught us a new method of rapid multiplication. The material I received planted less than a quarter of an acre, and I had to water daily due to tenderness of the vines.

Managing these vines took time, but, after five months, I was able to plant half an acre using the same method and sold 64 bags of vines. I decided to expand my production further… I combined what I knew about sweet potato with what we had been taught. This was my turning point! At the end of 5 months, my method gave me an income that was 50% more than my traditional return so I took a decision to stop my casual labor work for the first time in life and took on orange sweet potato production. I managed to pay school fees for all my children on time. I even bought a motorbike to take my produce to the markets. My wife has a small shop where she sells pancakes made from the sweet potato. We have enough orange sweet potato to eat every day.”

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