11 August 2020
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Friday, 07 June 2019 05:32

Balaka farmers urged to embrace sweet potato farming

Written by  Mary Makhiringa

Balaka, May 7, 2019: Farmers in Balaka have been urged to take Orange Fresh Sweet Potato (OFSP) farming seriously because studies have shown that they contain Vitamin A supplements.

Principal Nutrition HIV and Aids Officer for Balaka, Ernest Kadzokoya made the call on Wednesday during an International Potato Centre OFSP field day which took place at Mulula Village in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Sawali in the district.

He encouraged farmers to diversify crop production and cultivate nutritious crops, noting that time has come for farmers to utilize the expertise obtained from non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“It is sad to note that farmers are willing to do some farming simply because donors or NGOs are active in their respective areas, once they phase out, all their efforts are wiped away.

“OFSP is very nutritious as it contains Vitamin A supplements, necessary for human development,” Kadzokoya said.

He observed that most of the under five deaths in the country were as a result of the lack of Vitamin A.

“In Balaka alone, there is 87 per cent of Vitamin A deficiency, but in terms of stunting; the district is at 32 per cent which is alarming. If farmers grow more and use OFSP, the district will stand at a better place than before,” the officer said.

Research Technician for International Potato Centre, Khalaniphe Kamuonjola said the OFSP is aimed at reaching out to 7, 000 households on nutrition in seven districts of the country.

“Although we are phasing out, I am happy to say that there has been a great change from the time we first came and this time. People have accepted OFSP and they are able to process into different forms of food, porridge, thobwa, snacks as well as eating the real potatoes.

“It’s just a plea to the people to continue from where we have stopped because experience has shown that once an NGO phases out, people tend to stop doing whatever they have been taught,” he added.

In an interview, Margret Matabwa who grows OFSP and uses the potatoes at home hailed the International Potato Centre for the expertise given to her.

“I am able to grow OFSP and sell the potatoes for money. I also use it at home to feed my family and it is so nutritious,” she said.

Orange Fresh Sweet Potatoes are disease resistant and are easy to grow as they take only three months to be ready for harvest.