Wednesday December 7 2016

Mukono residents reap from orange potatoes

The Programs Director, VEDCO Ms Grace Babirye

The Programs Director, VEDCO Ms Grace Babirye addresses farmers and stake holders as she delivered a report for the DDBC project at Mukono district headquarters. 

By Eseri Watsemwa

MUKONO. Since 2012, residents of three sub- counties in Mukono District have reaped big from production of Vitamin A fortified sweet potatoes, commonly known as orange potatoes alongside iron rich beans.
153 farmer groups in Kyampisi, Nabaale and Kasawo have benefitted from a project masterminded by Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns (VEDCO) that has seen farmers in the three sub counties producing orange potatoes to fight prevalence of micronutrient malnutrition, mainly iron and Vitamin A.
Ms Grace Babirye, Programmes Director, VEDCO said 19 per cent of Uganda’s population is undernourished with micro deficiencies, especially Iron and Vitamin A (VAD) and as a result, 64 per cent of pre-primary school children suffer from deficiency anaemia.

Ms Rinet Nalugo Musana, a cancer survivor who

Ms Rinet Nalugo Musana, a cancer survivor who supplies orange sweet potatoes to the Cancer Institute at Mulago testifies about the benefits of orange potatoes.

VEDCO’s Executive Director, Mr Henry Nsereko said the project dubbed “Developing and Delivering Biofortified Crops in Uganda” (DDBC) was meant to improve nutrition of communities in Mukono District to fight malnutrition, especially in young children and women.
“These are highly affected by Vitamin A deficiency, both in homes and schools. We therefore work with administrators to open up land and establish gardens for orange potatoes that are provided to the children for lunch,” Mr Nsereko noted.
Ms Rinet Musana Nalugo, a resident of Nama and cancer survivor said in Form Three, her daughter had three quarters of her liver removed and consequently lost weight.
After she was discharged from hospital, Nalugo fed her on orange potatoes and in two weeks, she was healthy again.
“I now produce these potatoes on two acres of land and many children with cancer benefit from my garden. I also sell to schools such as Cornerstone Primary School,” said Ms Nalugo.
But Nalugo is not the only one with such a success story. Ms Florence Gokyala shared that her grandson was malnourished and sick, but is now two and a half years old and very healthy as a result of feeding him on the potatoes.
Also Agnes Kalya, a resident of Katente said she kicked sickness out of her home by feeding her children on orange potatoes.

Children eating Vitamin A Fortified sweet

Children eating Vitamin A Fortified sweet potatoes (orange sweet potatoes)

“My children were always sick, so I experimented on the youngest child and she was healthy again. I made a resolution to produce the potatoes, each season,” Kalya said.
Apart from health benefits, the residents can also earn a living from selling orange potatoes.
Ms Kalya also hopes to construct rentals.
Besides educating her children, Ms Florence Nabunya, who resides in Kasayi village in Kyampisi SubCounty, has built a bungalow from the sale of orange potatoes.

VEDCO was founded in 1986, in Luwero, with the aim of improving livelihoods of people. It is currently operating in 33 districts which include those found in Karamoja, West Nile, and Lango regions.
In partnership with Harvest Plus, VEDCO promotes conventionally bred pro vitamin A orange sweet potatoes and Iron rich beans to sustainably address micronutrient deficiency and also compliment micronutrient supplementation efforts.
In Mukono, the project has benefited 13,522 households, with about 67,610 direct beneficiaries.
However Mr Nsereko said the organisation faces challenges such as accessing disease free planting materials, a disorganised market, a limited time frame and resources and limited technology to aid value addition.

This article was funded by Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns