Feed the Future Rwanda Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) for Income and Nutrition Activity Project Field Visit

The OFSP project is being implemented by YWCA in partnership with the International potato center (CIP) with funding from USAID. YWCA implements the project in three districts namely; Bugesera, Gatsibo and Ngororero. The major aim is to increase the production and consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato and enhance incomes of smallholder farmers and improve the nutritional status of women and children under five. The project is strengthening sector-wide human and institutional capacity for nutrition-sensitive and market-oriented agricultural development. It also fosters linkages with the health and nutrition sector at national and local levels. The project will increase the demand for OFSP though public awareness campaigns and technical support to food processors.

It was against that background that YWCA Rwanda, USAID, CIP and the Rwanda Agricultural Board conducted a joint field monitoring visit in Bugesera District on 5th May 2017. The major aim of this field visit was to assess the quality of vines in the demonstration plots which are undergoing research and testing whose results will be based on by RAB to determine the varieties to be distributed during the planting season. The team that was headed by the USAID senior agronomist began the field visit in Gashora at Mpozembizi John Baptist’s vine demonstration plot. John Baptist noted that he started growing vines on a small piece of land equivalent to 400Sq meters while producing Kabode vine sweet potato variety and has currently reached 6400Sq meters. He noted that he sells 2500 kgs which are equivalent to 312500 Rwandan francs per planting season. The team also visited a RAB demonstration plot where they were shown the major challenge of caterpillars that have destroyed the demonstration plots. The team was urged to encourage partners to multiply their vines instead of relying on demonstration plots because it is more secure.

The team proceeded to Kamabuye Sector where they visited a demo plot that was used for research purposes by RAB. The research was to be conducted to ascertain their quality in terms of the kilograms they produce, how nutritious they are, number of vines so that RAB would determine which varieties would be distributed.

Innocent Nzabamwita, a vine multiplier noted that he always shares knowledge about the importance of OFSP to his neigbours showing them their nutritious value of vitamin A. he also noted that he shares knowledge with others on how to best prepare the OFSP’s so that they remain nutritious. He encouraged the funders to increase the number of vines distributed because they are few yet many people are in need of them.

With regards to nutrition, the team was taken through the process of preparing nutritious food for children under the age of 5. The team appreciated the beneficiaries and encouraged them to pass on the skills and knowledge to other parents and expectant mothers.