Solving hunger with sweet potatoes

Posted on May 30, 2018

Christina in her potato fields

Christina is a mother of four, hailing from Thyolo District in MalawiShe used to grow maize, pigeon peas, and white sweet potatoes for both food and income. Despite her best efforts, Christina’s family suffered from food shortages for months at a time, and she struggled to pay for household needs.

Training and nutrition

We worked with our local partner, United Purpose, to teach Christina how to grow orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.

These potatoes have many advantages. Not only are they tasty, and diverse for cooking, but they’re also rich in Vitamin A – an important nutrient for women and children in particular.

Christina also learned about the business of agriculture to help her improve her income and livelihood.

Fields of gold

Christina was given three vines of sweet potatoes to work with. Using the techniques she learned in training, she began to multiply her vines. Lead farmers such as Loveness also provided her with additional technical support.

Five months later, Christina reaped the rewards, harvesting 98 bundles of vines. She then planted these in a larger field ahead of the rainy season, ensuring she would have enough food and income during the lean months.

On top of this, Christina harvested 250kg of potatoes. She kept 100kg for the family to eat, and sold the remaining 150kg.

With the sale of her first crop of sweet potatoes, Christina bought food to cover the hungry months, as well as soap, salt and other everyday needs. She hopes to earn enough from future crops to build a new house.

Champion for change

Christina says the sweet potato project has set her up for future success.

“We have been trained to multiply the vines and to use recommended practices to achieve high yields,” she said. “I can increase my production using my own planting materials. That means even after the phasing out of this project, I will still be able to grow potatoes.”

Africa Water Appeal

Prolonged drought in southern Africa is destroying crops and livelihoods. Please give a tax-deductible gift by 30 June to help us bring water systems to farmers like Christina who are struggling to survive.