THE FARMER SWEETPOTATO ROADSIDE MARKET
The Rulindo farmer selling point is a root, tubers, and vegetable market that was opened in march 2015 after being established through a partnership between Rulindo District local government and the International Potato Center (CIP) through the UKAID funded, Scaling Up Sweetpotato Through Agriculture and Nutrition (SUSTAIN). The market gives an opportunity for local farmers to sell their produce in a safe location that is near the main Kigali and Gisenyi road that goes to Ngoma in DR Congo. This is also the main tourist road that goes to Virunga Mountains the home of the Mountain Gorilas. Therefore, the location has a huge potential to be a mjor roadside market where travelers to Kigali of on the opposite side can buy their fruits and vegetables. Farmers will a better access to the market for their produce and the motorist will have fresh produce for their households.
Initially the concept was to market biofortified sweetpotato and fresh vegetables and be managed by a cooperative. However, the market has evolved into the major sweetpotato market in the district providing a market for OFSP, other local sweetpotato varieties and various fruits and vegetables. At the time of establishment it was envisioned that 25 members of the initial cooperative were to use the market. However the market now is able to accommondate up to 100 farmers from the area and others from villages far away from the main road.
2. MEET VESTINE MUKAKAYONDE, THE SWEETPOTATO ROOT PRODUCER
Vestine is 48 years old and lives in Bushoki Sector along the main Kigali Musanze highway in Rulindo District. She grows five crops sweetpotato ,banana, beans, irish potatoes, and maize. She has a long history in farming having started agriculture from her teen years. During the field visit, she proudly describes sweetpotato as a crop that has brought to her household more income than any other crops she has ever produced. The great part is that the income is throughout the year since sweetpotato in Rulindo can grow through out the year. She said, ‘’I know you won’t believe that my second daughter is in the University in Kigali. The family covers nearly 100% of the university cost from sweetpotato production. Vestine has been earning an average of 400,000 Rwf (US $ 500) after every harvest. OFSP and other sweetpotato provides food security and better nutrition using OFSP and other food crops they grow.
3. FORTUNEE MUSANABERA
Fortune Musanabera started growing Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato in 2010. She started this activity under ‘’Inkingi y’urugo’’ farmer group, literally translating ‘’the pillar of household’’. This group was created with a mentorship assistance from Imbaraga Farmer Organization together with the International Potato Center (CIP). The main aim of forming the group was to encourage the production of OFSP for home consumption as well as for the market. Part of the work of the group was to act the catalyst in starting the adoption of OFSP in Rulindo district. They were also to start OFSP seed production. However, groups are usually hampered by lack of enough land to grow the seed and for roots production. There are also issue with group dynamics and management that becomes an issue in the progress of the groups. Therefore, Fortune decided to start OFSP production on her own as well as be part of the group.
As value delopment started the demand for OFSP vines and roots started growing rapidly. This came from development agencies that needed vines to give to their beneficiaries and processors who required roots as raw materials. She decided to enter into the two end of the OFSP business. She has taken seven years in as a producer of OFSP to be what she is currently. However, before entering into OFSP business she used to be a small scale trader in the local Base market earning just enough money for her food. Steadily she has expanded her business to the point that she has earned enough money to buy two parcels of land where she grows seed sweetpotato vines and roots for the market.
4. SCHOOL FEEDING
One of the numerous CIP’s interventions in health sector, is the ‘’school feeding approach’’. Under this component under nutrition intervention, CIP with the partners work with the Schools to establish an OFSP based kitchen garden under the school management. This becomes an evenue for th school pupils to learn about farming, better crop husbandry and the benefits of OFSP as a souce of energy and vitamin A. The graderns also become the first source of seed for the children to go home and establish their own OFSP plots at home and educate their families. Using the leaves and roots from these gardrns the project then runs schools feeding demonstrations trainings for both the families, children and the teachers.
One of the schools that has benefited from this program is Groupe Scolaire Kiruri, located in Base sector of Rulindo District. OFSP school feeding approach, has an important influence in shaping children’s nutritional behavior in assisting them understand how to make the right food choices from the time they are yound. This shapes their tastes and preferences very early and that includes having the right attitude to nutritious foods. We utilize these sessions to teach all the particpants on how to ensure that they use the local foods available in their local areas to prepare balanced diets. The school has 1,340 students in Nursery, Primary and Secondary streams. However the main targeted group are initially the 150 in nursery school pupils and their parents. That is the age group that the project can have the highest impact in reducing malnutrition and alleviating the Vitamin A deficiency. This internvention is led by Consolee Mutuyemaliya, the SUSTAIN Agronomist coordinating the implementation of the project with the Imbaraga farmer organization.
5. GAKENKE PROCESSING PLANT
The International Potato Center (CIP) through the Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA) project started working with cooperatives. It is during this project that the idea of starting cooperatives to have model processing units. These were established under both SASHA and SUSTAIN project. The units act as the place training place for entrepreneurs to learn how to add value of OFSP to make common wheat based products such bread, queen cakes, doughnuts, crisps, and biscuits. Utilizing funds from the SUSTAIN project the two units one in Gakenke and the other at Muhanga. There are two marketing interns who support these units to run as a business.