Did you know that potatoes are commonly known across East Africa as “Irish potatoes”? These type of potatoes suit the cooler climate, in the highland areas of south-west Uganda where our North Rukiga ADP is located. In this heavily populated region, many families have less than half an acre of land to work with and potatoes are a crucial food and cash crop.
As many Irish people who grow potatoes know all too well, potatoes can be a risky crop to successfully manage as they are prone to pests and disease. Outbreaks of blight in the past have seriously threatened food security in this area. Working with the Ministry of Agriculture and local researchers, World Vision Ireland is helping farmers access high quality potato seeds from local suppliers. By supporting training for farmers on improving techniques, World Vision Ireland is helping communities get a better crop.
However, simply growing more potatoes is only half the battle! Traditionally farmers in rural areas such as Kabale have not been able to secure a decent price for their produce. This is due to a lack of market knowledge and no means to transport their produce to the markets. Proper storage facilities are also an issue for farmers, and as a result they are forced to sell their potato crop to passing traders after harvest for a low price. To tackle these issues World Vision Ireland is supporting farming groups in North Rukiga ADP with business training to help them meet demand and obtain a higher price for their crop.
As a group, famers can more easily pull resources together in order to better afford transport, seeds, tools and fertilisers. World Vision Ireland is also working with these farmers in North Rukiga ADP to improve storage practices, so that less of the crop is lost after harvest. Although it is early days, potato farmers in North Rukiga are starting to see big results. 76% of farmers involved in this work reported a higher income from the sale of their produce this year. This means their households can have a better quality of life and meet essential needs such as healthcare, education and shelter.
Arinda Barack is a member of one of the farmers groups World Vision is working with in North Rukiga ADP:
“Growing Irish potatoes in our community is a profitable business. After benefiting from training, and start up seeds from World Vision Ireland, I increased on my garden up to 5 acres of Irish potatoes. I have been able to earn a good income from my garden which has enabled me support my two sisters to get education and one of them is doing primary teachers course, my children are in school and I am currently constructing a permanent family house out of income from the garden”.
The success of these Irish potatoes continues to grow and benefit the community. Recently a local farmers association supported by the United Nations Food and Argriculture Organisation negotiated a deal to supply the new branch on Nandos in the capital of Uganda, Kampala. Previously Nandos imported their potatoes in from abroad as the quality of local potatoes was not of a high enough standard. This deal along with the work being done by World Vision Ireland has created hope for the future of the Irish potato farmers and their families in North Rukiga.
If you would like to know more about the work being done by World Vision Ireland in our Area Development Programmes click here.
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