Rooting Out Hunger Project in Malawi Transitioning into a National Roots and Tuber Development Program
Although the Government of Malawi is committed to poverty reduction, progress has been slow in recent years. The struggle with extreme poverty is reflected in rural communities, where malnutrition rates are extremely high, especially among women and young children. Currently, it is estimated that 800,000 children under the age of five suffers from under nutrition and one million are vitamin A deficient.
The first phase of the Rooting Out Hunger project (ROH 1) focused on promoting the adoption and appropriate use of orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) as a food-based approach in reducing malnutrition and poverty levels in Malawi. As the project transitions into the second phase that will run from 2016 to 2020, we aim to scale up and expand production of OFSP as well as cassava and potato.
We work in Chikwawa, Phalombe, and Zomba districts and we are extending into neighboring Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, and Nsanje districts; all located in Southern Malawi. For OFSP promotion at national level, our efforts are also linked to two other on-going OFSP projects – Scaling up Sweetpotato through Nutrition and Agriculture (SUSTAIN) and Feed the Future Malawi’s Improved Seed Systems and Technologies (MISST) – which operate in the Northern and Central Regions.
Key Project Information
The first phase of the Rooting Out Hunger project (ROH 1) focused on promoting the adoption and appropriate use of orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) as a food-based approach in reducing malnutrition and poverty levels in Malawi. As the project transitions into the second phase that will run from 2016 to 2020, the aim is to scale up and expand production of OFSP as well as cassava and potato.
The project will incorporate successful nutrient-oriented models used in ROH 1 to develop a national root-and-tuber program. Focusing on the OFSP component in this development phase, the plan is to expand dissemination of OFSP varieties released in 2011 – Ana Akwanire, Chipika, Mathuthu, Kadyaubwere, and Kaphulira – into communities in neighboring extension planning areas (EPAs) of Southern Malawi, so as to improve the seed system and increase production by smallholder farmers.
The objectives are to:
- Improve the sweetpotato germplasm maintained in-vitro at the Department of Research Services at Bvumbwe (DARS-BRS) as a source of breeding materials and clean, quality ‘seed’ for smallholder farmers.
- Increase vine multiplication capacity for all six OFSP varieties under controlled environments for farmer participatory characterization assessments and identification of best-adapted OFSP varieties within season-specific agro-ecological zones.
- Strengthen quality vine multipliers linked to foundation seed to provide clean sweetpotato planting material to collaborating partners invested in promoting OFSP for distribution to farmers.
- Improve access of OFSP roots to commercial and informal markets through collaboration with private agro-processing industries committed to developing OFSP-based products.
Working in close collaboration with DARS, the project is developing improved OFSP varieties for farmers and provide quality planting material for further multiplication by private, decentralized vine suppliers located within the operational districts; and providing starter material for OFSP vine dissemination in the Southern Region. At the Bvumbwe Research Station, OFSP is maintained and multiplied using micro-propagation techniques, sand-based irrigation (sandponics) in the screen houses, and rapid multiplication under field nursery beds. Demonstration plots that include all six OFSP varieties using the ‘mother-baby’ approach as a way of creating public awareness on the new OFSP varieties and characterize their agronomic performance under varying micro-climate conditions are being implemented. Universal Industries, a private processing company, is being supported to develop commercial products for all three RTCs that include OFSP and potato crisps, OFSP and cassava biscuits, high quality cassava flour, and OFSP puree. All these products promote national expansion of nutritive foods comprised of roots and tubers.
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SPHI Brief 2015: Rooting Out Hunger in Malawi Transitioning into a National Roots and Tuber development programThe Rooting Out Hunger project is implemented in in Chikwawa, Phalombe, and Zomba districts and is extending into neighboring Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, and Nsanje districts; all located in Sout...
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