Let’s get cooking – with sweet potato!

From the Farm Radio archives. This story first appeared in our 2014-2015 annual report.
 
Farming families eat much of what they grow. This makes farm radio shows a perfect platform to provide families with information about nutrition. Families can increase the amount of key nutrients in their diet by planting protein-rich varieties of traditional crops or eating all parts of the plants they grow, including the vitamin-rich leaves.
 
Yet sometimes farmers can be reluctant to start planting and eating a new vegetable — unsure of how successful their harvest will be or how to incorporate the vegetable into their meals.
 
Farm Radio International is part of an international effort to promote orange-fleshed sweet potato in order to address vitamin A deficiency, a serious problem that causes blindness and increased vulnerability to common infections. The kind of sweet potato traditionally grown in Africa is yellow in colour and does not contain much vitamin A. Through traditional plant breeding methods, bright orange varieties have been developed. These are an excellent source of vitamin A. Cooking shows broadcast on radio have proven to be an entertaining way to encourage farming families to grow and eat orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP).
 

 
Farmers’ groups in Uganda have hosted cooking competitions to allow their neighbours to taste just how delicious OFSP is, and see how simple it is to incorporate OFSP into their diets. These cooking shows have been featured on local farm radio programs, motivating some families to cook OFSP themselves and motivating others to reach out for more information on how to grow OFSP.
 
“It was after listening to the radio program as a group that we decided to invite a member from Luwawulo village to come and show us how to bake cakes, chapattis and pancakes made from OFSP,” said Namulema Jane of Bakyala Twekembe group in Kitangira village, near the southern border of Uganda.
 
After seeing the techniques and hearing from other small-scale farmers, the members of Bakyala Twekembe farmers’ group were more willing to cook OFSP for their own families.
 

Farmers trust other farmers when it comes to which foods are best to grow. It also helps that OFSP is delicious. “Once you start eating it, it’s hard to stop because it’s so good. I grow a quarter acre of OFSP and I would like to continue,” vouched farmer Alice Nyirahabimana, of Kahara village, in the nearby district of Kamwenge, Uganda.
 
An engaging farm radio broadcast relies on both entertainment and farmers’ voices — and cooking shows are a great way to accomplish both while sharing valuable information promoting good nutrition. These shows have become a popular feature in many radio programs promoting the production and consumption of OFSP.
 
Cooking shows have been popular in Ghana as well, where the OFSP project is reaching farmers in the Upper East and Central regions. Learn more in this audio postcard from the field.
 

 
Nutrition is a key component in many of our projects, which aim to increase the production and consumption of nutritious vegetables and grains. These include the “Reducing vitamin A deficiency with orange-fleshed sweet potato” project, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and our “Nutritious Maize in Ethiopia” project, made possible with funding from Global Affairs Canada, with support from the following implementing partners: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Sasakawa Global 2000.

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