Notes to broadcasters
Rwandans eat sweet potatoes as a staple in some parts of the country. But storing sweet potatoes is difficult.
This script shows how a Rwandan farmer has helped solved that problem by creating a successful business processing sweet potatoes. New varieties of sweet potatoes enriched with vitamin A are being provided to farmers by Rwandan researchers, and sweet potato is being transformed into an income-generating crop.
You could use this script to help inspire other farmers to try processing sweet potatoes, and feel more confident that they can earn a good income from their business. The script could also inspire consumers to eat different kinds of foods made from sweet potatoes.
This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. For example, there may be another staple crop that could be processed into other kinds of products. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
Estimated running time: 10-12 minutes, with intro and outro music.
The signature tune fades in to start the show. It fades out after 20 seconds under the voice of the host.
Sweet potatoes are grown and eaten on a large scale in Rwanda, mostly in the countryside. They’re usually eaten right after they are harvested. They go straight from the field to the cooking pot. One reason for this is that we don’t know how to store sweet potatoes for a longer period.
You may be excited to hear that researchers have introduced new orange-fleshed varieties enriched with vitamin A. They are also working with farmers who are making a profit by processing sweet potatoes into flour to make donuts, biscuits, cakes, and other foods.
Are you curious to know how sweet potatoes can generate a good income? Then listen to our show today. Today, we will talk to a sweet potato farmer who is making good money by processing sweet potatoes into different foods.
Sound of a journey by car – engine sounds, starting and stopping, etc. Fade under host.
Fade out sounds of car
Then I learned that the Rwanda Agricultural Board, the RAB, was distributing new varieties of sweet potatoes that gave a better yield and that contain higher amounts of vitamin A.
I approached them and they gave me the new, orange-fleshed varieties. Later on, RAB selected me for the training on sweet potato production and processing. Before that, I had been wondering how I could store the sweet potatoes without rotting.
Sound of someone walking up a hill – perhaps breathing hard, sounds of walking
Jean Marie: (Starting off-mic, but on-mic by end of speech) Hello and welcome to our place. I am really happy about your visit to our sweet potato processing business. We have just finished making a pile of donuts – maybe you can try! Theoneste is making some bread, and everything is going well. Welcome to our place!
Then the idea of processing came along. I wondered: can sweet potatoes be processed to stop them from rotting so quickly and so that I would not lose any income? How could I preserve them a bit longer than five days?
Jean Marie: I approached the local district government, which helped me apply for credit at the bank to set up the processing business. (Editor’s note: In Rwanda, farmers often use their land as collateral to qualify for a loan. Jean Marie was also assisted by the local government, which played the intermediary role with the bank.) RAB helped me grow new vitamin-A rich, high-yielding varieties, participate in fairs and exhibitions across the country, and offered other assistance.
They also trained me how to dry and process sweet potatoes. It was 2010 when I started putting my idea of processing sweet potatoes into practice.
I bought some quite powerful machines that can process 20 tonnes of potatoes per day, so I am optimistic. But to do that, I would need more than 150 employees. I employ only 15 today. With more capacity, we would add products like sweet potato juice.
Dear listeners, you are listening to the Agro-breeding show on Radio Salus. Today, we are talking about processing sweet potatoes into other food products.
Jean Marie grows much more sweet potato than he did in the beginning. But, to have enough for his processing business, he is always working with other farmers, including Mr. Gatete Alexis, who is here with us. Mr. Gatete, can you tell us if you are making money with this processing business?
But I have tried to grow them and encourage other farmers to grow more. The sweet potatoes we are using are not those usually grown here in Rwanda. They are new orange-fleshed varieties enriched with vitamin A. Farmers are not familiar with these new varieties. It took intensive extension work to get farmers to grow them. Besides, the cuttings must be bought; they are not free. This is another obstacle to their popularity. But the farmers and their co-operatives understand that growing these new varieties is profitable.
Jean Marie: My business is working with eight co-operatives, and more than 15 farmers who work outside of co-operatives. We have also talked with the district. The district authorities have made sweet potatoes a priority crop because they appreciate what we are doing in our processing business. The district will provide sweet potato farmers with some assistance to strengthen their enterprises. We hope that sweet potato production will become more popular and that we can grow enough to meet the market demand.
Dear listeners, dear farmers, I thank you very much for your kind attention. If you have questions, suggestions, or ideas about this show, don’t hesitate to contact us at our address: Radio Salus, Post Box 117, Butare. This is Jean Paul Ntezimana saying thank you and see you soon!
Contributed by: Jean Paul Ntezimana. Radio Salus, Butare, Rwanda.
Revised by: David Mowbray, Senior consultant, Training and Communications, Farm Radio International.
Jean Ndirigwe, 2006. Adaptability and acceptability of orange and yellow-fleshed sweet potato genotypes in Rwanda, MSc thesis, University of Makerere, Kampala. (Not available online)
Interview with Jean Marie Vianney Habumuremyi, February 6, 2013.
Farm Radio International. Research in Rwanda aims for a good harvest of sweet potatoes. http://frrp.wpengine.com/radio-resource-packs/package-86/research-in-rwanda-aims-for-a-good-harvest-of-sweet-potatoes/
Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)