Orange-fleshed sweet potato an alternative for small-scale farmers trapped under Maize Poverty and climate variability
The project employs participatory approaches to draw scenarios for land use, institutional arrangements, and devising technologies for improving productivity and ecosystem health. Maize is a main staple food crop in the area and the SLM technologies being promoted target maize. Unfortunately, maize included the one under SLM demonstrations suffered from dry spells as the rains were erratic for almost a month from around 25th December 2014 to 20th of January 2015. A looming reduction in harvest and probable hunger forced farmers to seek alternatives. During focus group discussions and resource mapping, farmers identified some fields that could be suitable for sweet potatoes (see Braslow et al. 2015). The CIAT-AGORA principal investigator Katherine Synder consulted the sister CGIAR, International Potato Center (CIP), that has the mandate to breed and disseminate potato varieties in Malawi who fortunately had a project with similar aim. CIATs initial thinking to look for sweet potato bundles was based on a participatory mapping exercise where farmers indicated that their maize would barely give yield during the season mainly because they planted late and some fields were affected by floods. This called for a ‘problem oriented intervention’ and linking up with CIP was seen as a solution.