The Viability and Potential of Smallholder Sweet Potato Enterprises as a Food Security Measure in Rural Communities of South Africa

  •  Portia Ndou    
  •  Bridget Taruvinga    
  •  Christian P. du Plooy    


The Agricultural Research Council in partnership with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform are engaged in promoting the establishment of sustainable Sweet Potato Enterprise projects in South Africa. This study sought to investigate the viability of smallholder sweet potato enterprises for the South African rural communities. Formal market surveys and Gross margin analysis were utilised in addressing the research questions. Results of the study indicate that both the sweet potato vine nurseries and growers stand a significant chance to gain considerable amount of income from sweet potato enterprises. Sweet potato vines had a gross margin of between R219,000.00 and R226,000.00 while the sweet potatoes attracted an average gross margin of R47,000.00/ha. Coupled with the potential to create employment and provide access to the nutritious sweet potato cultivars, sweet potato enterprises can potentially improve food security among the rural poor in South Africa, indirectly extending benefits even to those who are not directly involved in production. This study recommends support of smallholder farmers through training and infrastructure development, as well as creation of awareness among rural people of the benefits of sweet potatoes.

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