In recent years, the popularity of the sweet potato has skyrocketed, making it a firm favourite on many menus around the world. It has also become a household staple. After being largely underrated and overlooked in western culture for decades, the discovery of its health benefits led to a surge in the usage and demand of this root vegetable.

Recognising this crop’s nutrient-rich properties and fast-growing nature, Peace Parks Foundation, KfW Development Bank and partners are supporting a sweet potato growing pilot programme. This has been implemented within communities surrounding Malawi’s Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve and Nyika National Park.

To see how the farmers are getting on, Peace Parks Chief Development Officer Lilian Spijkerman and Senior Project Manager, Ghislain Rieb, accompanied by a team from KfW, stop in at a local community.

A Sweet Success

Ten farmers, both male and female, were selected for the pilot programme, facilitating inclusivity and women empowerment in the rural workplace. This will be the first time in the valley that this variety of orange-fleshed sweet potato will be grown, and so far, the results have been outstanding. It is estimated that the first revenue of the seed production will reap around US$2,800, which will be split between the ten farmers involved.

This money will then be used for general household spending, purchasing livestock such as goats, pigs and chickens, and contributing to improving livelihood opportunities, including access to health and education. From a conservation perspective, more food on the table means less dependency on natural resources from nearby protected areas. 

The Benefits Of Sweet Potato

Farming these root vegetables is a simple and sustainable way to help overcome malnutrition, a major health problem in Malawi. With the staple diet here being nsima, a maize-based porridge that contains few vitamins and minerals, the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are proving to be a great and delicious alternative. Not only does it help curb hunger, but they are packed with fibre, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B, to name a few.

Peace Parks Foundation would like to thank KfW Development Bank for their ongoing support and look forward to seeing this already successful farming programme help change the lives of more communities here.