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From Entrepreneur to Employer: How Vitamin A Orange Sweet Potatoes Are Transforming Livelihoods

23 May 2023, Uganda: Peter Omondi is a rural Ugandan farmer. His life changed forever when he heard about vitamin A orange sweet potato (OSP). Since, he has greatly increased his income and created job opportunities for community members, and himself.

Prior to 2012, Omondi was a traditional smallholder farmer in his village of Tegot in Omoro District. When the USAID-funded Meals for Nutrition Biofortified Solutions (MENU) project started locally promoting OSP through HarvestPlus and World Vision, he saw an opportunity to make money selling OSP vines.

Omondi quickly adopted OSP as a vine multiplier, a decision he has never regretted. He now earns up to UGX 9 million (USD 2,400) from selling approximately 600 bags of OSP vines per day during the August to November peak season. His market goes as far as South Sudan. The main purchasers of his produce in Uganda are international non-governmental organizations such as World Vision, Save the Children, Samaritan Purse, and Mercy Corps, among others. He also produces OSP for government programs, schools, and local markets.

Omondi improved employment prospects in his community when he expanded his field and employed nine permanent employees, most of them women. During the peak season, he also created jobs for over fifty men and women to support the harvesting of OSP vines and roots. Susan Akello, one of the employees says, “I am now able to provide for my family and pay school fees for my children from the money I get working on this farm.”

Through MENU, many farmers in Tegot were trained to produce vines. Together, they formed the Northern Uganda Sweet Potato Multipliers Association through which they bulk and sell their vines and tubers. Omondi plans to start the multiplication of other biofortified crops including iron beans and vitamin A maize.

When the demand for OSP increased, Omondi acquired more land for production. He now cultivates OSP on 27.2 hectares (68 acres) in phases so that he can maintain his supply of roots and vines throughout the year. From the proceeds of the vines sales, Omondi has been able to construct a commercial building, buy a small truck to transport his vines, educate his children up to university, and construct a permanent residence for his family.

In Omondi’s words, HarvestPlus is like a second “God” because it transformed him into a highly respected man in his community.

Also Read: FMC Corporation and Syngenta to commercialize breakthrough technology that controls grass weed in rice in Asia

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