Delivering and Disseminating Bio fortified Orange Flesh Sweet Potatoes in Schools

By Monica Acan Ruth – Community Development Assistant, Kole district


Dear Africa,


You say the theft of food is not okay because if I do, then it would not be enough for my younger brother and you would punish me for it-but Papa says ‘a mother who punishes her kid for stealing food is  no mama because she cooks not’.


My big brother Nelson Mandela (RIP) said that, ´´ there can be no keener revelation of a society´s soul than the way in which it treats its children´´


I want to know if you are going to punish me for this......

The pupils of Wippip primary school, Aboke sort out the potatoes as others steal and run away with the magical root


Delivering and disseminating bio fortified crops, DDBC is a five year project that World Vision Uganda is implementing with funding from USAID through Harvest plus and mainly focusing on two biofortified crops of Orange Flesh Sweet Potatoes rich in vitamin A and High Iron Beans as its name states;  Iron rich.


Schools are one of the avenues through which these crops reach the target beneficiaries, households with at least a child, and a young woman of child bearing age because research has revealed that the most vulnerable to malnutrition are the young especially those who have just celebrated their fifth birthday and below. In one component of the DDBC project (demand creation), nutrition trainings are offered to the registered caregivers in three segments of Food and its uses, recommended feeding practices of children under the age of five and recommended feeding practices of pregnant and lactating mothers that also incorporates an element of general homestead sanitation.


In 2013, Wippip primary school in Aboke received 5bags of the potato vines after which they participated in the planting class by class and weeding as well guided by the teacher in charge of the school garden.


Time came for them to start enjoying the fruits of their labour as was promised, as is shown in the pictures above, some pupils were too impatient to wait till it was boiled-needless to worry the technology has been applied and the only challenge is having all parents have it so that the pupils can receive it from school and home as well.

But before you conclude, let me tell you about school today.


My head teacher likes to say today is the day that I have been waiting for since.....


Three months ago, some people brought to our school what they were calling vines-to me it looked like sweet potato leaves.


Two days later we went to plant in our school garden, just like we do our potatoes; it was already heaped by P7pupils.


I don´t remember what happened that day-after sometime, I think our class annoyed the teacher, we were taken to weed as punishment but we really enjoyed because we would not be caned. Teacher told us it’s a different kind of potatoes that has a lot of vitamin A in it that would mean I would not suffer from eye problem anymore and you would not have to scrub my skin so hard to shine because it works on it and teacher said a child who is not malnourished would mean having better brain health and so I would pass highly to p.5, recalls ......................


Today, after lessons when we were supposed to play, we were told that our potatoes was ready and so we needed to go and harvest and we would start eating it lunch time tomorrow, .....Continues


At the neighbouring St Marys Girls SS Aboke, orange sweet potato is a delicacy. The school produces orange sweet potatoes all year round, with students feeding on them and over 160parents have been given vines to plant at their homes.

 Harvest from the school garden

The girls always peel the potatoes themselves and say, their supper time is always too far as they wait to enjoy the yummy vitamin A rich potatoes.


‘Mary was not there when we were weeding, I told her what the teacher said that day and she suggested that we bring home some samples’ explains Sara, a Senior four student.


The project aims at reaching 35000 households by 2016 directly by giving them start up clean planting material and ultimately 70,000 households reached through ‘payback’ where a directly supported farmer multiplies and as crops mature, freely transfers vines to two other farmers twofold.


During the period of planting and harvesting, farmers and school representatives are trained in three packages of agronomy of both OSP and iron beans i.e. pre-planting practices, pest and disease management and post harvest handling covering another project component i.e. seed systems.


Did I tell you that we had some visitors too?

The visitors said that we can also use the potatoes for making bread, I wonder how!


Oh ,they said they will be training people next week at the sub county, that we can go and learn how to make bread that can be consumed at school. This is a component of value addition and marketing, a third project component. During value addition and product development trainings, people learn to add value on OSP especially making flour, bread, baggia, donuts, cakes, porridge, juice and many others, to earn household income


A lady grating the OSP to make bagia.                   Sale of OSP bread in the market.


Above, members of Mon Pe Lwor farmer group in Aboke make on average Uganda Shillings 200,000 everytime they make bread and have done it weekly since August 2014. They save the money in their VSLA and hope to share come December.


The project is working in four Districts of Kole, Oyam, Lira and Gulu, in nine sub-counties of  Aboke, Ayer and Alito in Kole; Minakulu and Ngai in Oyam District; Ngetta and Bar in Lira; Koro and Bobi in Gulu with 10 Community Development Assistants ( Field Extension Workers) who facilitate the trainings. The overall team, seen and unseen is joining hands to achieve the ultimate figure of 70000 households by December 2016.