Florence and five of her children
Florence Namatovu, 46, and five of her children fill the entrance to her shop in Mukoko village in central Uganda. Namatovu farms five acres with her husband outside of town in the rolling green hills of Kalungu District. Local norms constrain women, for example to kneel when they greet a man. Yet, Namatovu has an eye on the future. She says every penny she makes goes to support her eight children and put them through school. Lately, she has made extra money of her own growing orange-fleshed sweet potato vines. With her earnings (about $225 a season), Namatovu is considering opening a bank account for the first time in her life.
Namatovu is part of a network of women who raise the orange-fleshed sweet potato, teach others how to grow it, tell communities about nutrition, and monitor the health of children under 2. The orange-fleshed sweet potato was introduced to female farmers in the central and southwestern regions of the country in 2014 by the Uganda branch of the Bangladesh-based nongovernmental organization BRAC . The effort takes aim at chronic under-nutrition and stunting that affects 33% of children nationally. The World Bank Africa Gender Innovation Lab is studying whether female farmers’ head start with the orange-fleshed sweet potato in Uganda can give them an advantage as the crop becomes more popular and profitable. Photo: © Stephan Gladieu / World Bank