AGRA-Watch believes in supporting agroecological approaches to African farming, which stands in contrast to the Gates emphasis on industrialized agriculture. Here is a report of a local initiative in Rwanda that trains farmers to use non-GMO sweet potatoes to increase their yields.
In Rwanda’s Gakenke District, a new variety of sweet potato is providing farmers with increased yields despite small farm sizes. This new variety, called the Orange-fleshed sweet potato, is neither a GMO, nor categorized as a specialized crop. It was introduced to the district by the Sweet Potato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA), an organization that is training farmers to cultivate their own Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, as well as training them to use the potatoes to bake sweet potato doughnuts. Now farmers are appealing to the government to receive more land to plant this productive crop. Gakenke District Agronomist, Deny Hagenimana, notes “We are recognizing the importance and production of those new sweet potatoes. The district and other partners will search for land to cultivate the crop [based] on its significance.” Jean Ndirigwe of the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has pointed out that Rwanda is the third largest consumer of sweet potatoes in Africa, and that farmers should be encouraged to make the tuber a food crop as well as a cash crop.