Maria Mchele is a mother and farmer in Tanzania who relies on farming for food and income. Through a local agricultural program, Maria learned about a new crop of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, specifically bred to thrive in sub-Saharan Africa, and how to maximize her earning potential. Programs like this have helped farmers increase their incomes by up to 400 percent.
One billion people throughout the world live in extreme poverty. Most rely on agriculture for their food and income.
MARIA MCHELE [Mwasonge, Tanzania]
I was born here in Mwasonge. I am 43 years old and have five children and four grandchildren. I used to sleep on a rug on the floor with my children. Then I met Mwanaidi.
Mwanaidi Rhamadani is a trained farmer. She taught Maria about a new kind of crop, a nutritious orange-fleshed sweet potato that was specifically bred to thrive in this area.
Mwanaidi gave me new seeds and taught me how to farm this orange sweet potato. She taught me about soil irrigation, about crop multiplication, about dividing vines, the things we didn't know before. She also taught me about selling my crop. Customers ask me why my potatoes are different in color. I try to explain to them that they are orange because they have vitamin A, which provides protection in the body, and are good for kids and adults growing. So customers get excited and buy from me. Now, we sell seeds, chips, biscuits, donuts, flour, and even pancakes, all made from sweet potatoes.
I work happily, knowing that I will be getting out of poverty by doing what I am doing. And, when I sleep, all I think about is the potatoes. The dream is always the same: to finish the house I am building of brick stones; to sleep in a comfortable place; and to raise the standard of living for my children and grandchildren, and send them to school. I am happy the sweet potato farming is helping my dreams come true.
Living Proof: Real Lives. Real Progress.
Maria is now a leader in her farming group and teaches others what she's learned. Investments in programs like this one have helped farmers like Maria increase their income by up to 400 percent and harvest a better future.
Living Proof: Real Lives. Real Progress. www.one.org/livingproof