here’s launching the sweet potato revolution!


SERIOUSLY, this is about Sweet Potatoes, but don’t give up reading.

Let history record that the Sweet Potato Revolution of 2013, which will change the way Uganda manages its natural resources, and henceforth contribute significantly to our propulsion into the realm of developed nations, began on March 29, 2013.

On that day, Edwin, an intellectual fellow with a sense of humour, sent an email to a friend at The New Vision in response to a story on Page 4 titled, ‘Ugandans Prefer Sweet Potatoes To Yams – Study ‘.

The placement on Page 4, a primary news page normally reserved for the more important or groundbreaking items of the day, made one look at the headline again in case it held a double meaning. But they were not wasting time – the story literally said that “a group of agricultural researchers and scientists” had “revealed that the consumption and supply of sweet potatoes in the country has increased, while attitudes of Ugandans towards yam consumption and production (are) still poor.”

Edwin‘s attitude to the entire story was poorer than our national attitude towards yams: “I realise that this remarkable story might be breaking news in Kigezi, but your audience might not share your fascination with sweet potatoes…” he complained.

Human Being fuel, on the way from Kabale - photo by Alfred Kabuchu
Human Being fuel, on the way from Kabale – photo by Alfred Kabuchu

I laughed and was tempted to compare our page four focus on yams and sweet potatoes with what Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and the BRICS countries had run on page four of their own national newspapers that day. Instead, I went for the silver lining.

If this story warranted prime positioning in a newspaper then it had to be important. A whole ‘group’ of researchers and scientists had dedicated time and money to find this information, and had likely published a report launched at an event of sorts (I hope they served sweet potatoes there). Journalists attended and wrote stories. Sub-editors laid the stories on pages (as high as four) and we paid Ushs1,500 for the newspaper in order to find this “revelation”.

Even now you are reading about sweet potatoes.

This is important.

Conflict of interest declaration: As a child, I hated sweet potatoes. In Obote II we resided close to the bus park in Kampala, and whenever a relative turned up from Hoima they deposited a sack of the tubers with us. Back then they were a delicacy but I had my fill of them. Plus, I preferred the taste of yams (I wasn’t surveyed by the scientists).

But keeping an open mind last week, in ensuing discussions with some Kampala intellectuals, at which we did not consume sweet potatoes, we discovered that Uganda is the world’s second largest producer of the stuff!

We are second only to China in growing and consuming sweet potatoes. <== Read that sentence again. Now, China produces 90% of all the world’s sweet potatoes, and Uganda produces 2.4%.<== Read that one again as well.

But that’s okay – we are still second in the world. We are surrounded by wealth but most of us don’t seem to know it!

50% of China’s sweet potatoesare used as animal feeds. I believe that if we check statistics for China’s animal production we will be thoroughly impressed, and we all know about their human production (in all respects!)

This is directly linked to sweet potatoes.

In Uganda, Alfred, an economist, says sweet potatoes contribute to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product by keeping us fuelled – linked to the belief that people from the Kigezi sub-region are energetic and hard working.

So, the opportunities for Uganda that spring to mind are myriad: a) Put all lazy workers – especially civil service types – on strict sweet potato diets b) Focus more on sweet potatoesand less on oil, since we have more sweet potato producing areas than oil producing areas c)Increase foreign exchange earnings by sending expatriates from Kabale and Hoima to lower-rung sweet potato growing nations d)Introduce Sweet Potato celebrations – like they have in the United States, where for example in Mississippi the 150 farmers (!) growing sweet potatoes (on about 8,200 acres – 30 km2) contribute $19 million dollars to the state’s (Mississippi) economy!

THIS is how to make developmental use of our resources.

And I believe it’s called Comparative Advantage.

3 thoughts on “here’s launching the sweet potato revolution!

  1. I think everything posted made a ton of sense.
    But, think about this, what if you were to write a awesome headline?
    I ain’t suggesting your information isn’t good.

    , however suppose you added something that makes people
    desire more? I mean heres launching the sweet potato revolution!
    | scare-a-hero is a little boring. You might look at Yahoo’s home page and see how they create article titles to get people interested. You might add a related video or a pic or two to grab people excited about what you’ve got to say.
    Just my opinion, it might make your posts a little livelier.

    Like

    1. Good comment! I guess I’m just a little lazy at headline writing and just slap the quickest, most straight-forward one there. I’ll be putting my shoulder into it a little more.

      Like

  2. Nice article…and learned some interesting facts. I will send you the info about ORANGE sweet potatoes later.

    Like

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