Walter Odongo, a 31-year-old farmer from Dokolo district in Northern Uganda, has only praise for vitamin A orange sweet potatoes (OSP). He was previously a rice farmer, but was persuaded to switch to a healthier, less labor-intensive crop by an awareness-raising campaign.
Walter is married to Judith Adongo, and they have two children aged 9 months and two years. Walter was part of a group of farmers trained in agronomy and nutrition by World Vision, a HarvestPlus implementing partner in Northern Uganda. There, Walter learned that the vitamin A OSP promoted by HarvestPlus is fast maturing, drought tolerant and higher in vitamin A than the traditional white and cream varieties. More than a quarter of preschool-aged children in Uganda suffer from vitamin A deficiency, which can lower resistance to common childhood illnesses like diarrhea and measles that lead to blindness or even death.
After the training, each farmer received half a bag of vitamin A orange sweet potato vines. Walter planted his in a small garden and harvested about 1.5 bags of roots. In the second season of 2017 he expanded his garden to 1.5 acres, planting mainly the kakamega and NASPOT 8 varieties of OSP. He has been expanding his garden ever since. Walter’s biggest drive has been commercializing the production of the vitamin A OSP to give his family a better life. Since he is next to the road he sells his roots on the highway and Kenyan trailer operators buy at a premium price.
In one acre of land he used to get five bags of rice which he would sell at UGX 130,000 (USD 34.58) each. Now he can get about 20 bags of orange sweet potato roots in a season which he sells at UGX 80,000 (USD 21.28) each, and about 80 bags of vines at UGX 10,000 (USD 2.66) each.
“I now earn more than twice the amount of money I used to earn from my acre of land when I used to plant paddy rice. I earn from both the vitamin A orange sweet potato roots and the vines,” recounts Walter with a grin of satisfaction. Walter has used some of the proceeds from this venture to buy land especially to expand his OSP garden. He has also bought some goats that he plans to multiply, sell, and buy oxen for plowing.
HarvestPlus thanks World Vision and the many other nongovernmental organizations partnering with us around the world to ensure those most in need can benefit from biofortified crops.