‘Next season I will fill my farm, and my father’s farm, with sweetpotato’ says Bezabih Hamamo, a champion Triple S (Storing in Sand and Sprouting) farmer in the Jara Dado Kebele in Hawassa Zuria. Hawassa Zuria is in southern Ethiopia, approximately 40 km from Hawassa town, and it is in this area that scaling of the Triple S technology is taking place under the RTB Scaling Fund portfolio. Hamamo and his wife Worke Kuchuta are enthusiastic orange fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) farmers and have been identified as a champion Triple S household; one tasked with disseminating knowledge on the technology for conservation and multiplication of planting material to farmers in their kebele (village).
Hamamo and Worke are not worried about where they will get planting material for the next planting season 5 months away. They are assured of planting material from Triple S technology, which stores roots in sand in a cool dry place over the dry season. Six weeks before rains are expected the sprouted roots are taken out of storage and planted in an irrigated seedbed, to produce planting material which will be ready, at the beginning of the rainy season. Hamamo was introduced to this technology through the SASHA II project with 20 roots as starter material in 2016. Mihiretu Cherinet, a CIP scientist, trained him on how to select and store healthy roots in a container layered with sand, checking them for spoilage regularly, over 4 months and then using the sprouted roots to produce early planting material. As the rainy season neared, the roots were planted and watered to sprout healthy planting material, enough for the intended sweetpotato planting area, using the rapid multiplication method. Hamamo and Worke produce planting material through this technology, for their farm and for sale to other farmers. They attest to the nutritious benefits and income gained from OFSP. Recently, Hamamo sold roots from a small section of their farm to traders in Hawassa for ETH Birr 7,000 (US$ 255). There is high demand for the roots. ‘My six children enjoy OFSP very much, eating it on its own and mixing it with other staples such as kocho and maize’, says Worke. Kocho is a starch extracted from the enset plant, fermented and then used to prepare different local foods.
It is currently the harvesting season and Hamamo and Worke have already identified the section of the farm that they will select roots to use for their Triple S system. The plants in this section look healthy, vigorous and have the medium sized roots ideal for this technology. As they prepare to harvest, Hamamo and Worke are also taking the time to train other farmers on this technology using their farm as a good demonstration that it works. Hamamo emphasizes that with this technology, farmers will not need to depend on projects to distribute vines or spend money to buy vines; but rather, they are assured of their own quality planting material in time for the next rainy season.
Hamamo and Worke are not the only ones teaching farmers about this new technology; extension agricultural officers from the Bureau of Agriculture and Natural Resource Development (BoANRD) have partnered with CIP to train other champion households in target kebeles so that knowledge about Triple S is extensively shared. They identify four champion Triple S households who are trained in a class setting using flipcharts, pamphlets and a trainer’s resource guide as well as participating in a physical demonstration on how to select health roots and set up the Triple S container. The champion households in turn train farmers in their respective communities increasing the opportunities of this technology going to scale.
Cherinet highlights the advantages of Triple S explaining that in the three years that this technology has been in use; there has been no observable reduction in yield and no weevils observed unlike when traditional methods of conserving planting material are used. Traditional conservation methods include preservation under the enset shade during the dry season.
With 48 more champion Triple S households in three different districts (Hawassa Zuria, East Badiwacho and Mirab Abaya) cascading knowledge to other households in their communities; use of Triple S has great potential of positively impacting household food security, nutrition and income. With support from the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) CIP is implementing Triple S PLUS initiative with different scaling partners. is also testing effective methods for the dissemination of the Triple S technology by using gender responsive communication materials in the form of step down trainings, video-based trainings and radio programmes with the aim of reaching 25,000 households in six districts in partnership with People In Need (PIN), an NGO working on nutrition projects that include sweetpotato.