RONHAI aim to reach the disadvantaged with orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP) by distributing planting materials and delivering training to farmers.
The Buikwe district of Uganda is greatly affected by the deadly HIV pandemic; people are at high risk of vitamin A deficiency and mortality and they are often food and income insecure. RONHAI is promoting orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP) in Buikwe to mitigate the situation. This was based on earlier reports of positive impacts of OFSP in neighbouring districts.
In 2012 RONHAI sourced OFSP planting material from the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI), Uganda. With the help of NaCRRI technical experts, HIV/AIDS-affected households (HHs) were trained in sweet-potato rapid multiplication, agronomy, disease identification and product development. The seed was multiplied by primary beneficiary HHs who gave back to RONHAI the same quantity of seed as received; it was then re-distributed to secondary beneficiaries. The secondary beneficiaries will in turn supply materials for tertiary beneficiaries.
More than 350 HHs have benefited from RONHAI’s efforts. Informal data shows that HHs that feed HIV/AIDS-orphaned children on OFSP at least once a day visit clinics less frequently than they did before they started eating it, suggesting boosted immunity. A majority of our clients are school children and school registers also indicate improved attendance of affected children. Increased demand for OFSP planting materials in Buikwe indicates that people appreciate its benefits; farmers report better yields and income from sales of processed products. Spill-over effects to non-RONHAI HHs through farmer-to-farmer sharing of planting materials is also evident.
Lessons learnt and the way forward
- This project has expanded RONHAI social capital (research, farmers, schools, clinics)
- The RONHAI OFSP experience is a replicable model that could be spread to other HIV/AIDS-affected areas e.g. the island district Buvuma.
- The RONHAI-NaCRRI partnership will train farmers in vine conservation, a strategy for sustainability
- In future, it would be valuable to carry out formal data collection and to document impact