In areas where there is a prolonged dry season, sweetotato vines die due to lack of moisture or through being eaten by livestoc and so are not avialable to supply cuttings. When the rains come and farmers want to plant straight away, there are no planting materials available. Farmers typically then have to wait for the rains to cause vines to emerge from old roots that were left in the field, causing delays in planting. This lack of planting materials at the on-set of rains is a major constraint to sweetpotato farming in sub-Saharan Africa.
In order to ensure access to sufficient high quality planting materials at the start of the rains, dry season preservation is necessary. Dry season conservation methods selected vary based on the socio-ecological characteristics of the household.
The Triple S (Storage of roots in Sand then Sprouting) technology is being validated in new contexts in sub-Saharan Africa. Triple S can be used for conservation and multiplication of sweetpotato planting material in areas with an extended dry season.
At the start of the rains, local availability of adequate quantities of quality planting material is limited. However, farmers using the Triple S technology can plant earlier and take full advantage of the rains to obtain higher yields. Thus, they benefit from an early food crop, before cereals can be harvested.
Ensuring that households have control over their own seed source, by retaining healthy roots and sprouting them, reduces the need to transport perishable and bulky planting material over long distances, at high cost and often with high wastage. We will continue to adapt the Triple S technology for local conditions and develop appropriate strategies for scaling out to reach more farmers.