Mitengo Felix had been growing maize as staple crop for a long time but had no interest in growing Irish potatoes until he attended commercialization campaigns by Farm Concern International, FCI under the Domestic Markets Regional Programme funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2011 Felix registered with Khasu pasogolo Commercial Producer group (CPG) under the Chisinkha Commercial Village (CV) but he was still sceptical about the success of the irish potato venture and therefore did not cultivate anything.
Mitengo weeding his Irish potato farm
Felix’s negative attitude towards irish potato farming changed during harvesting season on noticing that those who had cultivated potatoes had no problems marketing their produce and had good returns from their sales. He moved full throttle and cultivated Irish potatoes on 0.5 acres harvesting 1.6 tons which earned him approximately USD 500 from sales.
He benefitted from teaming up with FCI supported Khasu Pasogolo Commercial Village (CV) who were taught on Good Agricultural Practices, collective action and linked to irish potato traders. He invested part of returns on sales to procure improved seeds and fertilizers. Since then his production has been on an upward spiral each season due to improved farming practices through training and exposure visits organized by Farm Concern International under the Programme. He has realized a total of USD 5,120 over the last 3 planting seasons.
Mr. Mitengo and his family are better fed with a balanced diet and he is able to farm throughout the year and sell his produce at good prices. “I can feed my family throughout the year and I do not hold back when farming, because I am assured of the market,” said Mr. Mitengo. He has diversified into livestock farming and now keeps 3 pigs bought with proceeds from sale of Irish potatoes.
Felix has doubled the land allocation for Irish potatoes this year and expects to harvest more than 3 tonnes this season. He plans to establish a shop on a plot of land he has acquired in order to expand and stabilize his income. Mr. Mitengo’s family farms a small garden where they plant Amaranths and pumpkin leaves for home consumption and his family access a constant supply of vegetables for nutrients. He is optimistic about a future free of poverty and nutrition related diseases.
FCI VISION : To have commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond