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Gender sensitive sweetpotato production matters to be discussed at the 2016 APA Conference

 Temesgen Bocher works at the International Potato Center. At the 2016 African Potato Association Triennial Conference, he will make an oral presentation on targeting the marginalized, especially women in Rwanda, for profit efficiency by increasing knowledge and good management practices in sweetpotato farming. Why does it matter?

 

Farmers working in a sweetpotato patch in Rwanda

 

Rwanda is one of the highest producers of sweetpotato in sub-Saharan Africa producing over 80 kilograms per capita. Major growing areas have bi-modal rainfall regimes and year-round sweetpotato consumption.

 

Urban consumers demand more processed, faster cooking foods than their rural counterparts. In Rwanda, there is an expanding demand for wheat-based products, but most wheat flour in Rwanda is imported and the world price is on a steady increase.

 

A bowl of sweetpotato puree
A bowl of sweetpotato puree

 

Boiled and mashed sweetpotato, otherwise known as puree, is a suitable substitute for a significant percentage of wheat flour in bakery products. It contributes nutritionally significant amounts of vitamin A. Processing sweetpotato into products offers the opportunity to increase demand for the crop and create value-addition, thereby expanding producer incomes. There is a concern that as sweetpotato is increasingly commercialized, men will dominate and control the proceeds from sales of this crop.

 

Temesgen Bocher with a sack full of sweetpotato
Temesgen Bocher

CIP is working with two Rwanda based NGOs: Imbaraga and Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) to improve see how targeting women can bring change in the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers. This is done by helping them improve the way they use land and other resources to make profit, and increasing their understanding of nutrition.

 

Temesgen Bocher, CIP’s monitoring and evaluation officer in Sub-Saharan Africa says, “Gender sensitive agricultural intervention can improve the profit efficiency of small holder farmers especially those working on sweetpotato production. In Rwanda, it makes sense to introduce orange-fleshed sweetpotato with better yield and better nutritional value to improve the livelihood of the marginalized, especially women and the young.”

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