In pictures: moving disease free orange-fleshed sweetpotato planting material into farmers’ fields in Zambia

View original photostory post by Jonathan Odhong (IITA) here

Epulam Daka from Chiwoko Agriculture Camp in Machinga District has been a vine multiplier since 2013. Photo: Jonathan Odhong (IITA)

Orange-fleshed sweetpotato is fast becoming a major source of income for majority of farmers who have specialized as decentralized vine multipliers (DVMs) in Eastern province, Zambia. Epulani Daka from Chiwoko Agriculture camp in Chipate District is one such farmer.

Epulani has been a vine multiplier since 2013. His work entails availing disease free planting materials to sweetpotato farmers at a cost. Epulani is among 214 DVMs trained in vine multiplication. They have also learnt how to identify diseases early and isolation of their farms from nearby sweetpotato fields to prevent disease transmission.

‘The first time I heard about OFSP, I never imagined it would be such a success. To be honest, I took it just to experiment and out of “polite courtesy” to the team which came to introduce it to us,’ says Epulani. ‘But after becoming a successful OFSP farmer and vine multiplier, I have never looked back.

On a regular basis, Epulani (and fellow DVMs) acquires new planting materials from the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) Msekera Research Station currently implementing this work together with the International Potato Center (CIP).

Screen house with disease free planting materials for two OFSP varieties – Chiwoko and Olympia are supplied to farmers (decentralized vine multipliers) for multiplication. Photo: Jonathan Odhong (IITA)

Since 2013, ZARI has disseminated at least 400,000 cuttings to DVMs such as Epulani, who have multiplied them to meet growing local demand.  These cuttings are of two OFSP varieties—Chiwoko and Olympia. Other new varieties are being evaluated at the ZARI station.

This work is part of the Africa RISING going to scale in Eastern Province of Zambia project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Zambia Mission and led by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

View photostory by Jonathan Odhong (IITA) here.