In Tanzania—as in many parts of sub Saharan Africa (SSA)—orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) farmers are facing the challenge of prolonged droughts. This has led to a limited demand for clean planting materials and the sweetpotato vine multiplication business has remained unattractive to many.
Since 2015 Mary Ndomba and her team at Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, together with partners such as the International Potato Center (CIP), have adopted innovative ways to increase awareness about OFSP and its benefits. This would drive demand for the OFSP vines upwards. These approaches include strategic marketing through mobile phone applications and use of vehicle wheel covers as well as motorbike flaps.
For instance, through the mobile phone application—WhatsApp—information related to buying of quality vines roots and products is disseminated to subscribers. The group has 112 members and comprises of government extension workers, professionals and experts in OFSP, Decentralised Vine Multipliers (DVMs), root producers and processors. This platform has eased the accessibility to vines or roots for participating members and other interested parties. This forum also serves as a good platform to share information on good farming practices.
Vehicles and motorbikes normally used during field visits also carry messages on
OFSP serving to ignite interest by the public. The wheel covers and motorbike flaps bear the message “Use OFSP for health and wealth” and the contact details of an expert from the roots and tubers department who answers all the inquiries about OFSP from the callers, and connects them to a DVM or any other person dealing with OFSP. To date, 150 wheel covers and 300 flaps with OFSP messages have been distributed to North Western of Tanzania-within the Mwanza region/ Lake Zone, Central and Eastern part of Tanzania and Southern Highland Part of Tanzania.
Continue reading this story on the International Potato Center website.