Sweet Potato Workshop

Reading this week:

  • Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut
  • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut

This past week I attended an Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato and Orange Maize workshop over in Chipata in Eastern Province. This was a pretty good workshop and like always I am excited to see new parts of Zambia. The advantage of OFSP (what the cool kids call those sweet potatoes) and orange maize is that they are high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is a fairy large problem in Zambia, and there are a couple of different initiatives to get it into everyone’s diet. The sugar you get in Zambia is an off-white brown because it is fortified with Vitamin A. Another one of those initiatives, of course, is OFSP and orange maize. The first two days of the workshop were all about growing sweet potatoes. I suppose with both orange maize and OFSP the methods are pretty much the same as growing the not-orange variety, but I guess fewer people know how to grow sweet potatoes so we spent nearly all the time on that. Practically everyone in Zambia grows maize so that wasn’t really talked about, except for some strategies to avoid cross-breeding the white and orange varieties. Unfortunately, the milling companies only really want to buy the white kind, because it produces white mealie meal that people produce their nshima with. Orange maize produces orange nshima, which is awesome and healthy and tastes the exact same except maybe sweeter, but goes over the exact same way colored ketchup did in the states. The third day was all about cooking. This was entertaining because in my group all of the counterparts were male, and men don’t usually cook. Men do actually know how to cook, but the women are so much better at it. So you got these yamayos doing all this cooking stuff, and in our group the volunteers were kinda struggling but then every once in a while one of the men would step in and actually be pretty awesome. Or maybe I just have no idea how to cook porridge and they have at least a bit of a clue. The final day we also went to go see a tree nursery. The purpose of this trip was mostly to inspire the counterparts to start tree nurseries. The dude running this one makes, apparently, gobs of money so that is fairly inspirational. It worked on my host dad, at least, who now wants to start a tree nursery. So my next job is learning how to make a tree nursery so I can teach it to them. I’ll let you know how it goes.