Scaling Up Rootcrops Technology and the Women’s Wisdom in the Conservation of Sweetpotato Varieties

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Ruth S. Batani Kacy O. Labon Teresita D. Masangcay Rhea S. Loncio


Sweetpotato, an important traditional food crop especially for women farmers in semi-subsistence communities recorded nearly a total wipeout in 2014. Its absence on the farmers’ table brought out expressions such as ‘kakaikawa’ (it is deeply missed) and kasla met bagas dayta (likened to rice as a staple), revealing how sweetpotato is woven into the everyday lives of these households. Informed of research results done previously in the same community, the extension phase that aimed at saving this important crop through the introduction of a university package of technologies (PoT) took a non-linear path, which this paper highlights. The participatory extension approach of transferring technology at the community level explored how women took on the task of selecting sweetpotato varieties according to locally defined criteria that imitates the traditional varieties. The wisdom of women in conserving traditionally cultivated sweetpotatoes that were abruptly cut due to Fusarium wilt infestation was again utilized during the adoption phase. The practice of seed keeping or, in this case, cultivating planting materials in ‘mother plots’ for exchange and propagation in other areas facilitated the technology adoption. Despite some setbacks in the earlier experience of the PoT, sweetpotato growing was assessed to have recovered successfully by 2020 with indicators resting on the availability of the item on the table, during rituals, and as a buffer income source. The area cultivated also increased by 42%. From the narratives of the women partners, the adoption of the tissue-cultured clean planting materials technology went beyond Kibungan, the initial project site.

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