YWCA Launches the Scaling up Sweet Potato through Agriculture and Nutrition Project (SUSTAIN) in Muhanga District.

YWCA Rwanda in partnership with the International Potato Center launched the SUSTAIN project on 15, January 2015 that aims at significantly improving the nutrition, incomes and food production of Rwandan families. The launch took place at YWCA Muhanga sub office. SUSTAIN is a 4 year project that targets pregnant women and children under5 and is being implemented in five districts of Rwanda namely; Muhanga, Kayonza, Rwamagana, Kamonyi and Ruhango. The project has come to scale up the SASHA project that ended in 2014. The project will help in reducing malnutrition, combating vitamin A deficiency and improving incomes for the beneficiaries by use of Orange sweet potatoes that are rich in vitamin A.

The launch brought together officials from International potato center, YWCA staff, district officials and sector agronomists. The General Secretary of YWCA in her remarks thanked the participants for the support. The General Secretary outlined the importance of the SUSTAIN project to the Muhanga district officials. She highlighted the activities that were carried out in SASHA project which was implemented last year. She noted that sweet potato vines are not only for planting but also for income generation and nutrition purposes.

The YWCA agronomist in her remarks noted that the SUSTAIN project targets 2000 beneficiaries in each district per year and these are children under 5 years and pregnant women. The project will be having groups composed of 20 members were they will train them on the techniques of setting up kitchen gardens. The project will also involve the community health workers to fight malnutrition among the children under 5. It was also revealed that Muhanga and Nyamabuye sectors will be used for research.

The regional nutritionist from international potato center noted that SUSTAIN project started in July 2014 and will end in 2018. He noted that it is being implemented in Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique. He stressed that the project has got three components namely: food production, nutrition and marketing. He further noted that they expect 12,000 households to received potato vines by the end of 2015.

In his remarks, the Muhanga Joint Action Development Forum representative thanked YWCA and CIP for having introduced the SUSTAIN project at the right when Muhanga still faces challenges of malnutrition. He appreciated the approach that is being adopted in the implementation of the project. He urged YWCA and CIP to follow up on the beneficiaries and to make that whatever is done in the demonstration plots is replicated in their gardens. On behalf of the district, he pledged their support towards all project activities. He noted that the project will improve the nutrition levels in the district.

During the launch participants visited INDYO INOZE, a cooperative that produces products from orange sweet potatoes like cakes, doughnuts and bread. The launch ended at 13:30.