During the annual Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) Conference Trax organized on 3 December 2014 farmers shared their experiences with this type of sweet potatoes. The farmers mentioned that the OFSP matures early and that they it therefore breaks the hunger season earlier than the conventional crops. They narrated that the proceeds of the OFSP had enabled them to set up alternative businesses and pay part of their children’s school fees. A major setback they brought up, however, is the potato’s limited shelf-life. Many roots started rotting within weeks after harvesting. The farmers would like to be able to store the potatoes for three to five months.
This week marks three months after many of them harvested and we are happy to see that with the timely harvesting and the appropriate handling of the roots during and after harvesting, the roots have the potential to still be fresh. Some of our staff cultivated their own potatoes. They took particular care not to bruise the roots during harvesting by wetting the soil before, and using a rake instead of a hoe to cautiously scoop the soil away. The roots were then washed and stored on a cement floor with much aeration.
Together with our partners from the International Potato Center (CIP) and the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI) Trax will continue to guide our farmers on the necessary harvesting and storage techniques in order to ensure long shelf-life.
The OFSP Project is supported by Self Help Africa.