Sweet potato growing is making life sweeter for farmers in Luweoro district in Central Uganda.
The farmers who had earlier invested energy and time in cereals, are reaping big from sweet potatoes growing, making Uganda the leading sweet potato producer in Africa.
For years sweet potato growing has majorly been practiced on small and medium scale as a supplement to the different staple foods like matooke and cassava.
It is for this reason that Uganda is classified by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization as the largest producer of sweet potatoes in Africa and ranked third in the world.
Ugandans consume an average of 85 kilograms of sweet potatoes per year, the third-highest consumption level of any country in the world.
Abdu Kharim Wasswa Tamale is one of the famous commercial sweet potatoes growers in Luwero.
He grows sweet potatoes on his 38 acres of land situated on a flat ground that is water rich in Zirobwe Sub County earning over Shs 100 million per annum from this project.
Tamale says that sweet potatoes grow well in fertile soils situated in the lower land compared to uplands.
He attributes his success to timely planting of sweet potatoes during the dry season, when there is food scarcity.
On his farm, Tamale employs more than 30 people whom he pays at least 10,000/= per day depending on one’s potential.
His employees are equally happy about this project. But besides working on Tamale’s farm, they have been inspired to also venture in sweat potatoes growing to sustain their lives.
Being a crop, sweet potato growers face the problem of pests like rats and caterpillars.
This is however being managed through pre-planting and dipping of sweet potatoes stems into herbicides.
Tamale prides in the ready market for his produce. He testifies that ever since he started growing sweet potatoes on a large scale, he has never struggled.
With majority youth selling off land to buy boda bodas as others engage in sports betting, Tamale advises the youth to turn to commercial potatoes growing since it requires less capital.
However, traders involved in sweet potatoes business in urban areas like Wobulenzi, and Kasana- Luweero Town councils decry of the poor road networks linking them to markets.