Using sweetpotato as animal feed in Papua-Indonesia results in wide range of positive impacts on poor farmers’ livelihoods

Positive project impacts reach beyond economic gains, especially for poor smallholder producers. As shown by an evaluation of a CIP program using sweetpotato to improve pig production in Papua-Indonesia, they also can be measured in terms of numerous livelihood assets.

CIP research scientist, Sukendra Mahalaya, used a Sustainable Livelihood framework to measure project impacts on human, social, physical, natural, and economic livelihood assets.

The results showed improvements in social cohesion, animal husbandry skills, technology, and planting material quality, in addition to increases in income and yields.

Papua is Indonesia’s most remote and least developed province. Fully 41% of the population lives below the poverty line. Sweetpotato is the main staple for people, accounting for 90% of the daily diet in many areas, and it makes up as much as 100% of the pig feed.

“Pigs and sweetpotato are an integral part of Papuan traditional farming systems,” explains Mahalaya. “The pig also plays an increasing role in income generation as it demands high prices; a 50-60kg pig can sell for 6-7 million Rupiah (US$ 600 -700). Sweetpotato and pig are connected to all the Papuan traditional events, such as marriages, funerals, and the resolution of
confl icts.”

The project, led by CIP and the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), used a participatory approach focused on animal health to improve livelihoods for the Dani
people in the Baliem valley. It introduced new drought resistant sweetpotato varieties, new sweetpotato-based formulas for pig feed, and improved buildings for raising the animals.

“The project was aimed at helping local people out of poverty. The Sustainable Livelihood framework, which helps understand the way in which livelihoods are constructed and how and why they change over time, was therefore a good tool to identify the best way to support
these communities,” says Mahalaya. Results from quantitative and qualitative data collected from local households demonstrated impact across all categories in the framework.

For project participants, Mr. and Mrs. Elopere, the human impact is clear:

“This project has helped us improve our family livelihoods”, they note. “Now we always have enough food to eat, and more importantly, we can send our children to study in universities. We
never dreamed that we would have two Bachelor degree holders in our house!”

Livelihood assets impact in Papua Indonesia

  • Natural: improved sweetpotato genetic diversity, higher yields, more crop production efficiency, improved resistance to environmental stress, reduced dependence on natural resource products for income
  • Physical: improved pigsty technology
  • Human: improvements in education and sweet-potato pig husbandry skills
  • Social: improved social cohesion through the formation of sili organization
  • Financial: enhanced sweetpotato and pig production capacity and cash income