When she stands before farmers, her task is to convince them that on top of eating the tubers, sweet potato vines can also save them from buying expensive livestock feeds.
“When farmers grow sweet potatoes, all they look at are the tubers for food,” says Martha Matovu, who adds value to sweet potato vines and turns them into livestock feeds.
She says in recent years, the leaves are turning out to be even more valuable and this makes the food crop give better returns to farmers.
Sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the bindweed or morning glory family, Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are a root vegetable.
The young shoots and leaves are sometimes eaten as greens.
The potato is native to the tropical regions in the Americas.
Besides simple starches, raw sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber and beta-carotene (a pro-vitamin A carotenoid), with moderate contents of other micronutrients, including vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and manganese.
“Potato leaves are good in lutein, a nutrient that helps prevent eye degeneration as people age,” Norman Kwikiriza, a monitoring learning and evaluation specialist at the International Potato Centre (CIP), says.
Kwikiriza explains that this is a readily-available resource that farmers and other people should embrace.
“We have sweet potatoes growing across most of the country and it should not be a big challenge for people to access them,” he says.
The leaves can be consumed as a mixture with groundnut sauce or mixed with mukene, tomato and onions.
“They can be dried and pounded into flour and this is mixed with groundnut sauce, boiled and then consumed,” Kwikiriza says.
Amukeke (sun-dried slices of root) and inginyo (sun-dried crushed root) are a staple food in northeastern Uganda.
Amukeke is mainly served for breakfast, eaten with peanut sauce or mashed with boiled cowpeas.
Inginyo is mixed with cassava flour and tamarind to make atapa, which is eaten with smoked fish cooked in peanut sauce or with dried cowpea leaves cooked in peanut sauce.
Emukaru (earth-baked root) is a package for herdsmen, travellers, and families eaten as a snack anytime and is mostly served with tea or with peanut sauce.