Being executed in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the initiative also seeks to impart the beneficiary farmers with better skills on additional value chain of the key food crops.
Orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes (OFSP) are a special type of bio-fortified sweet potatoes that contain high level of beta-carotene. Beta- carotene is an organic, red- orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits.
IRDP’s senior lecturer and projects coordinator, Bonamax Mbasa yesterday told The Guardian that the helpful project was a result of a research conducted by the state- owned institute among farmers in Lake Zone regions.
“The research established that most famers' households in rural areas were prone to famine and poverty due to crop failure, being results of effects of climate change,” he briefed.
With an eye to spur diverse socioeconomic development in rural areas, Mbasa informed that the high learning institution was concentrating on conducting thorough research to establish setbacks haunting communities in rural areas, and thus, implementing viable project to remove the setbacks.
The project which has so far impacted more than 500 farmers, involves provision of free short - term but hybrid seed varieties for the orange -fleshed sweetpotatoes as well as training farmers on recommended agronomic practices.
He named the varieties as Naspot12 and 13, Ejumula, and Kabode.
“The varieties are three -month oriented and they are enabling the farmers to yield bumper,” he said adding establishment of relevant professional demo plots have assisted the farmers to acquire useful practices from extension officers.
The institute admission officer -cum- assistant projects coordinator, Christopher Mdoe added farmers have been assured of a reliable market, whereas they will sell their products to Maswa Sweet potatoes processing factory.
“The factory has entered into contract with the institute to procure all the potatoes to be produced by farmers,” he explained.
According to him, apart from improving livelihood amongst farmers, the project played a vital role in helping to contain the rate of malnutrition in the Lake Zone regions.
“The farmers are also doubling their incomes through producing diverse food products such as breads by using the orange fleshed sweetpotatoes flour,” he added.