Potatoes, Potatoes, Everywhere!

Village Enterprise business man holding potatoesIt’s Irish potato harvesting time here in the Biliiso district of Western Uganda. If you can recall, back in June, we launched an Irish Potato Business-in-a-Box and we’re excited to report that it’s been a huge success! As a reminder, we coupled specialized training with the distribution of 5 100kg sacks of Irish potato seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. Business owners were instructed to plant ¼ acre of land using best practices techniques and ¼ acre using traditional methods (no fertilizer, etc). The same seeds were used for each field. Read about our Irish potato Business-In-a-Box here.

Three months later, business owners are busy harvesting their quarter-acre fields containing best practices. Only a few are able to harvest their traditional ¼ acre plots as most of these plots are not ready for harvest since they did not mature as quickly or in some cases, they were planted slightly after the best practices.

pile of potatoesThe business owners are extremely excited about the yields and quality of the potatoes. The first reported harvest recorded 12 120-kilo bags – that’s 1,440 kgs of potatoes from just ¼ acre! The group set aside one bag of potatoes for replanting, one for personal consumption and sold the rest at market. With the help of their Business Mentors, they were able to sell their goods in trading centers along the lakeshores of Lake Albert and returned an extremely high profit.

We spoke with many groups about their plans post-harvest and were astonished at their ambitions. One Business Savings Group (BSG) plans on purchasing a grinder machine, which will help them diversify their products as well as unify and sustain the group. All businesses plan to replant Irish potatoes next season and many plan to diversify into livestock. The BSGs are marketing as a group in larger markets like Hoima and Masindi. It’s inspiring to see business groups use the BSGs to borrow money for purchasing sacks for storage, collectively hire transportation to markets and take their own initiative to act as cooperatives.  It’s an authentic reflection of how our program helps to empower people and communities! And a wonderful example of how we are helping to create truly sustainable businesses!

Village Enterprise business owners harvesting potatoes
Last week, we visited several of the fields being harvested to supervise and even lend a hand with the digging. I was very excited to get my hands dirty and help the mamas dig up the potatoes — they said I was a fast learner!

Ellen Metzger





Ellen Metzger

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