Relevant information on the challenges and opportunities of the project were considered for the benefit of the project results. In fact, most of the findings from the study were used as the baseline reference for evaluating the impact of the project’s intervention in the project target areas three years later, including activities on seed system, crop sales, marketing, nutrition and food security in general.
This baseline survey was conducted between from July 8 to August 23, 2013, and overall, 396 households were visited in 24 villages distributed across the 8 districts surveyed. Overall, about 90% of the farmers interviewed in the present study had agriculture as the most important activity. Among the farmers who mentioned sweetpotato, only about 12% of the households produced OFSP due to earlier dissemination efforts by IIAM and partners. However, only 2.3% of households’ total landholding was under sweetpotato, while 1.3% was plated with OFSP. Although the high number of farmers producing sweetpotatoes, the area under production is relatively small, with an average of 300 m2 per household. In general, sweetpotato was mostly (79%) produced for consumption, while 21% of the interviewees mentioned the sale.
Overall, farmer-to-farmer exchange of planting material was the most important source of sweetpotato planting material. Most farmers obtain sweetpotato planting material from their own plots (69%). However, some considerable farmers depend on vines from neighbors (23%), and about 7% from relatives. There was not any reference related to the selling of planting material. In seed system, vine conservation is one of the critical activities during the sweetpotato production cycle. Vines must be read for planting even after a long dry season. According to the results from this study, most (65%) of sweetpotato is planted 2-3 after the beginning of the raining season. At this moment, vines must be ready for planting. In general, the majority (94%) of sweetpotato farmers usually conserve their vines. The typical methods of conservation include leave some portions of the plot without harvesting (60%) for later sprouting, establish small fenced plots in lowlands (28%), and conservation in small plots near their houses (15%).
Important to note was the fact that most of the selling of the fresh roots was conducted in local marketplaces (64%) as opposed to the farm gate (6%). This means that most of the farmers had to transport their products to local markets and other places in the urban (30%) areas to sell their produce.
Vitamin A knowledge, farmers’ practices, attitude and perception on sweetpotato was further assessed. One of the most important objectives of this project is to address vitamin A deficiency through the consumption of OFSP. Overall, both male (70%) and female (66%) have heard about vitamin A. Although not important, in general, the results indicate that there were slightly more men than women informed about vitamin A among the respondents of this study. The most important source vitamin A information for the women was the health unit (50%), while for the men was the radio (44%) program aired in local language. In general, the use of radio with programs in local languages is more effective for men than women, while, most of the women can be effectively reached by using the heath unit.