KOTEMU OFSP Farming in Rwanda

KOTEMU is an Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato farming collective in Muhanga District, Rwanda. This is their story…

We are KOTEMU. In Kinyarwanda this is the Koperative Terimbere Muhinzi (in English this translates to Cooperative: ”farmer, develop yourself”). We are a farming group and cooperative here in Muhanga District, Rwanda.

We have come together to farm and to try to improve our lives together. We started working as a cooperative farming group a few years ago, growing a range of different crops. In 2010, we started growing OFSP with the aim of generating income from it.

We were introduced to OFSP farming by a local partner who was working with the International Potato Center’s SASHA project in Rwanda. We started receiving OFSP vines and help from an agronomist who provided advice on how to plant, take care of and harvest the crop.

In terms of nutrition there have been lots of benefits for us and our families from our decision to farm OFSP. We now feed our children OFSP. This means they get vitamin A in their diets. We used to get vitamin A from medicine or from eggs or fish, which are all very expensive to buy. But now we no longer sell our things in order to buy those expensive items as we can now eat OFSP to get the vitamin A we need for us and our children.

There have also been economic benefits from OFSP. We sell OFSP roots at 150 Rwandan Francs per kg. We have a contract with a nearby processor that provides a regular demand for OFSP roots. We feel much more secure now that we have this regular income.

We now have knowledge on OFSP farming from the trainings that we received. We now know how to take care of the OFSP crop, we know how to process them and turn it into mandazi and other processed goods. This adds value to the crop and means that we can get more money.

We also make money from harvesting and selling the OFSP vines. We are selling 1kg of OFSP vines at 300 Rwandan Francs. We sell the vines to different development organisations in the area who provide the vines to other farmers to grow. This is another good source of income.

In Rwanda, the International Potato Center is working to disseminate OFSP technologies to smallholder farmers and link these farmers to markets and to integrate nutrition messages and support activities with the Ministry of Health’s programs to reduce malnutrition in the country. CIP intends to reach 50,000 direct beneficiaries and 250,000 indirect beneficiaries by 2018 and to reach smallholder households with targeted nutrition and OFSP information.

Scaling up Sweetpotato through Agriculture and Nutrition (SUSTAIN) is a five-year partnership (2013-2018) coordinated by the International Potato Center (CIP) and financed by the UK Department for International Development to spread the nutrition benefits of biofortified OFSP to more farmers. The program aims to reach 1.2 million households with children under 5 years across four countries: Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Rwanda through mutually-reinforcing incentives to increase adoption of OFSP, consumption of Vitamin-A-rich foods, and diversification of OFSP utilization.