News and knowhow for farmers

Maize & sweet potato intercropping improves income & nutrition

In 2017, Hellen Cheruiyot, a farmer based in Elgeyo Marakwet decided to intercrop her maize crop with sweet potatoes, a venture that is now earning her more income besides providing enough nutritious food to her family.

“As a maize farmer, I worked so hard to grow the crop, but after harvesting, I didn’t get enough money to pay school fees, buy food and take care of the family, as a result of these challenges I decided to diversify my crops by embracing orange fleshed sweet potatoes that was promoted by World Vision and the Kenyan government in the region,” said Hellen.

“I used to rely on maize but market fluctuations meant I suffered losses,”

When Hellen initially grew the crop she made a Sh12,000 profit, a major boost to the family’s income. Since then she has never looked back, she now grows two rows of sweet potatoes and one row of maize interchangeably in her farm.  In this, she has been able to feed her children comfortably without worry.

“When my children eat the orange fleshed sweet potatoes, they feel full for a long period of time and do not become hungry fast compared to a maize meal. They concentrate in class,play with friends daily and do not become sick often,” she said.

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maize sweet potato

Maize intercropped with sweet poatoes

Through value addition she sells chapatis made of a mixture of orange fleshed sweet potato flour and wheat making an additional income of Sh8,000 monthly.

When World Vision first introduced the crop in the area, farmers did not at first embrace it as they were used to the older varieties.

“Through trainings and awareness on the benefits and ways to cultivate it, farmers slowly began growing it,” said Boniface Mukosi, a project officer at World Vision.

The crop is rich in vitamin A that boosts maternal and child health. In children, vitamin A strengthens the immune system hence helping them cushion themselves against killer diseases such as diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia. In expectant mothers, the crop provides nutrients that help in the development of the unborn child.

Hellen is currently training other farmers in the area on the benefits of growing orange fleshed sweet potatoes. In this she gives them vines to plant and also flour made from sweet potatoes to make porridge. This she says has made a lot of difference in families lives.

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