Zakaria Dauda stands with his orange-fleshed sweet potato vines, waiting to sell them to farmers who hear his location on the radio. His OFSP farm recently drew a visit from former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Zakaria Dauda is an orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) farmer and vine multiplier in Ghana. He grows the tubers and sells them for consumption, but also grows vines to sell to other farmers so they can grow their own. He is very enthusiastic about the benefits of this nutritious crop.
“OFSP is good for all of us,” he says. “ If you grow it very well you can sell some and leave some to eat, but I am encouraging farmers to be very serious about the eating, not selling.”
Zakaria recently had the opportunity to meet former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his wife, Nane, who were participating in a day-long session on OFSP in the Northern Region that included a stop at Zakaria’s farm in Botanga. Annan praised Zakaria’s work promoting OFSP, saying:
“This is a great job, you should keep it up, and encourage other young people.”
Zakaria sells his vines with the help of North Star Radio, FRI’s partner station in Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region. The station runs a weekly program on OFSP during which Zakaria’s contact information and location are shared for the benefit of farmers looking to buy vines. So far, Zakaria says he has sold over 11,000 Ghanaian Cedis’ worth of vines to NGOs and farmers in Northern Ghana (which is equivalent to more than 3,700 Canadian dollars).
“I am very successful (because of) their co-operation in helping me sell,” Zakaria says. “If not [for] that I will have not sold even half an acre, but because of the announcements there are people coming and meeting me at my farm.”
Radio also helps Zakaria teach farmers what he knows about OFSP. He explains the proper processes for planting, cutting, and storing the orange tuber, as well as how to protect the growing roots from pests.
With the help of irrigation, Zakaria currently grows OFSP on two acres. Next year he hopes to increase his OFSP farm to three acres.
“I am doing my pleasure to innovate and expand the orange-fleshed sweet potato to the whole of Ghana,” he says. “Not only the Northern Region, the whole of Ghana.”
Reducing vitamin A deficiency with orange-fleshed sweet potato is a three-year project conducted in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Helen Keller International, The International Potato Center, and the Sweet Potato Action for Security and Health in Africa. It aims to add OFSP to at least 500,000 rural households’ diets in Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.