By Donata Kiiza
It’s one thing to be a successful farmer and another to be exceptionally famous on a particular crop like sweetpotato. However, Habimana Felix from Murundi sector in Karongi district is all this. He is one of the many Decentralized Vine Multipliers (DVMs) under CIP’s Feed the Future project funded by USAID that started doing this work in 2016 with no much trust that he would reap any fruits.
Through support from CIP’s implementing partners in his district (OSPECA), Habimana held on to the encouragement he was always given and hoped to see a bright future from growing sweetpotato.
A former local farmer of crops like beans, fruits and vegetables, was brought to surprise after his first sale of vines when he realized that indeed, one could reap a fortune from sweetpotato farming.
As if this was not enough, the 42-year old farmer was overwhelmed with how people in his area embraced these new sweetpotato varieties. Because he gave laborers on his field sweetpotato in exchange of cash, these laborers also created market for Habimana’s roots.
Habimana confessed that people started calling him asking for orange-fleshed sweetpotato for eating and others who needed for sell, and this gave him a ready market for his produce.
He continued to say that not only did people like these sweetpotato roots due to their sweetness but also due to their big size and much yield as they compared them to the indigenous varieties that flooded the area before.
“Most people who heard that I was venturing into growing sweetpotato did not see any difference from what I was doing before. However, after the first harvest, everyone was so surprised at how much I produced and how big my sweetpotato were, since we were all used to the normal varieties which gave poor. Since then, OFSP became a hot talk in my area. People went around telling others to come to my place and see a new variety of sweetpotato,” he narrated.
The father of four said that due to their good soil and a good variety (Kabode), some of the roots he harvests weigh to about two kilograms.
“That’s why I do not find any losses in paying my laborers sweetpotato instead of cash,” he explained.
One who almost gave up this job in the beginning like any other starter, today he has dedicated almost 80% of his entire land to growing orange-fleshed sweetpotato for root production as well as vine multiplication.
In two years of doing this job, he has created a name for himself in Karongi district and is known in CIP as the best root producer among its peer DVMs.
Habimana, a strong and hardworking man, has achieved considerable milestones from selling OFSP vines as well as roots such as buying more land so as to increase his produce.
It is also evident that he was able to renovate and build a semi-standard house for his family in which they live. Due to the love of rearing cattle, Habimana also bought two Friesian cows that provide milk for his children.
It’s not all, the famous root producer has been of great impact to the people of Murundi sector through teaching them how to grow this variety of sweetpotato and giving them free vines to those who need seed.
Being a DVM has not only become Habimana’s daily job but has also equipped him with lots of knowledge in regards to this kind of job through a number of trainings offered by CIP.
In future, he plans to buy a motorbike which will be used for transport business hence increase his earnings.