Sweet potatoes to combat malnutrition in Samburu

A resident of Samburu County admires a sweet potato plant. [Michael Saitoti, Standard]

A non-governmental organisation has embarked on an initiative to encourage the Samburu community to plant sweet potatoes.

The initiative by the Childfund-Kenya in partnership with the County Government aims to tackle malnutrition and encourage the pastoralist community to embrace farming.

According to the county agricultural officer, Ferd Lemoyog, the project is one of the ways to address malnutrition in the region which stands at 20 per cent.

“Our focus is on the drought resistance variety of sweet potatoes to reduce malnutrition and poverty,” he said during an event to educate residents in Maralal town recently.

Childfund-Kenya project coordinator George Ochola, said they have begun by creating awareness among the people in the county to grow sweet potatoes.

“There are many uses of sweet potatoes because it is a prominent crop that supplies vitamin A,” Ochola said, adding that the crop can be used to make different foods.

“Sweet potatoes can be used on various aspects like porridge, chapati, and ugali, which can be used to reduce hunger and provide Vitamin A supplement,” he said.

Ochola added that sweet potatoes can be used to mitigate the effects of climate change as they use less water, can withstand drought, and do not have diseases.

He said sweet potatoes can be used to address malnutrition in children under the age of 5 because of Vitamin A, which is also good for lactating and expectant women.

Lily Letiwa, a farmer in the county, welcomed the initiative, saying her one-acre land had managed to produce 1,000 kilogrammes of the crop.

“I earn Sh1 million per season which translates to Sh3 million in the three planting seasons per year. I challenge my fellow pastoralists to take up the initiative of farming sweet potatoes in Samburu County,” she said.