Rooting Out Hunger in Malawi with Nutritious Orange-Fleshed Sweetpotato

Case Studies
Agriculture, Food Security, Nutrition
​CIP, Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) 1000 Special Days Initiative, Department of Agricultural Research Services, Department of Agricultural Extension Services, Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS in the Office of President and Cabinet, CADECOM, MVP, CU, FAO, USAID-WALA, FUM, Kachele Farmers' Club in Salima District.
Resource Publication Date:
January, 2014
Content Format:

This is one of 50 Harvesting Nutrition project case studies. Harvesting Nutrition was a contest held in 2012 and 2013 that showcased active projects working to improve the impact of agriculture and/or food security on nutrition outcomes. Co-sponsors were SecureNutrition, Save the Children UK, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Learn More.

Project Description:

​This 4.5-year program seeks to improve vitamin A and energy intake for at least 70,000 rural households with young children, the group most vulnerable to vitamin A deficiency (VAD), using orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) as the key entry point. The 1-2-3 seed system, combined with nutrition awareness campaigns and OFSP product demonstrations, aims to stimulate demand for OFSP and ensure that by the end of the project at least 20% of households growing OFSP will earn at least US $100 per year from OFSP sales and will increase their sweetpotato yields by 50%.

Impact of project:

​The variety Zondeni that was available in year 1 is now widely disseminated.

  • Six OFSP varieties have cleared to the final stages of virus elimination in vitro. These virus-free tissue culture plantlets will be used to initiate disease-free stocks of foundation material.
  • A screen house at Bvumbwe research station has been rehabilitated and has disease-free planting material of Zondeni.
  • The established 1-2-3 seed system has provided clean planting material to more than 100,000 households who have received and grown OFSP in the 2010/2011, 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 rain season.
  • 4,075 (47% women) agriculturalists (government and non-governmental extension agents and farmers) and 23,596 farmers (52% women) at the district level were trained on multiplication, production, pests and diseases, postharvest handling and OFSP processing and drip irrigation installation. They are expected to train others at the community level.
  • 295 DVMs (35.5 ha) have been established and trained in fifteen districts of Southern, Central and Northern Malawi.
  • One PhD student has initiated her field research on Post Harvest Handling and Processing.
  • Surveys indicate that yields in recipient households have increased from 6t/ha to 18t/ha after adopting the improved variety Zondeni.
  • The value of total vine sales by the primary multiplier (Bvumbwe Research Station) was USD $ 15,710 after two years of project implementation.
  • The value of vine sales by DVMs has reached US $ 75,104 (after 3 years of project implimentation), with 38% of this value coming from vine sales to NGOs, USAID and some individual farmers.

Why this project is a Good Practice example: ​

The prevalence of VAD among children under five years in Malawi among the highest in SSA (59%), the potential impact of getting beta-carotene-rich OFSP varieties into the diets of rural and urban consumers, especially young children, is enormous. The efforts of Rooting out Hunger are based on the dissemination of the widely grown OFSP variety Zondeni through a strong partnership with relevant government agencies, NGOs, and farmers' organization. Furthermore, there is a strong link with the Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS) to develop and disseminate new OFSP varieties, conduct crop management, post-harvest, and product development research to boost yields, and develop market opportunities for sweetpotato in Malawi. The demand creation and behavioral change strategy was designed. Key messages were combined into demo-plots and field practical. Each trainer trained agrees to train another 5-10 people. The implementation of this strategy has been practiced in the five core districts with success. Training modules were produced to equip the training facilitator/trainer with adequate knowledge and skills on sweetpotato in general and OFSP in a distinct-nutritional intervention. 

Impact Evaluation:

Impact evaluation in progress

Lessons Learned: ​

Funders: Irish Aid, Malawi Government, and the International Potato Center (CIP)

Primary Contact: Erna Abidin, Principal Investigator, International Potato Center (CIP)

Country: Malawi Project Dates: Starting 1st October 2009 to 30th April 2014

Interventions: Incorporate explicit nutrition objectives and indicators, Target the vulnerable and improve equity, Facilitate production diversification,

Target Population: Rural households, Children under 5, Mothers, Pregnant/lactating women (PLW),

Project Stage: Ongoing activities

Geographic Coverage: Regional