Statistics indicate that Malawi is 3rd largest producer of potatoes in Africa after Algeria and Egypt which are ranked 1st and 2nd respectively. Malawi which produced over 4,535,955 tons in 2022 trailing Algeria and Egypt which produced about 4,928,028 tons and 4,800,000 tons respectively has had an elevated produce this year which is yet to be quantified on records.
This production status, however, has had little appreciation on prospective farmers of the commodity who have mostly lacked access to beneficial information relating to marketing of the produce and products that may be produced from the crop.
A Lilongwe-based progressive young and lettered entrepreneur, Urunji Mezuwa, has cherished what he holds as underrated benefits that sweet potato farming or reliance has on economic and food diversity frontiers.
Urunji, who is renowned for weak, harmless and fan-laden jokes on social media and recently graduated with Masters in food security studies from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar), embarked on a less-exploited farming adventure of tubers this year where it appears he has reaped bounties.
In March this year, Cyclone Freddy destroyed maturing crops across the Southern Region amid prolonged dry spells in some districts, Mezuwa recounts this incident.
“The bumper harvest of sweet potatoes”, he says “could help beat the worsening hunger and poverty. The abundant potatoes on sale follows skyrocketing bread price. I planted three hectares and made K2 million and counting from 2 hectares where I invested K700,000”.
Mezua further argues claims that through value addition, there can be production of nutritious sweet potatoes flour which can survive long periods and be used to beat hunger and malnutrition.
“The potatoes can also boost commercial agriculture and diversify diets to lessen hunger, malnutrition and harsh impacts of climate change”, he says.
According to Mezuwa, who is currently enrolled for PhD studies in Food Systems in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Luanar, “there are different recipes for potatoes, so families and restaurants just need creativity to diversify their menus” and he proceeds to call this “food revolution”.