Decentralised sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) vine multiplication in Lake Zone, Tanzania: Five years later

Farmer-based seed multiplication is widely promoted by development practitioners, but there is limited understanding of the individual or collective motivations of farmers to engage or disengage in specialised seed production. The objective of this study is to understand the factors influencing the continuity of sweetpotato vine multiplication enterprises in the Lake Zone of Tanzania, five years after support from a project ended. A total of 81 out of 88 trained group or individual decentralised vine multipliers (DVMs) were traced to assess their vine multiplication activities. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected through telephone and field interviews. Our data showed that 40% of the 81 DVMs had sold vines in the year prior to the study and 20% had maintained the improved varieties for their own use. Some group members had continued vine sales as individuals. The DVMs’ reasons for abandoning vine multiplication included climatic and water access issues, market factors and group dynamics. The DVMs did not engage in high volumes of commercial sales. Socio-economic norms and values underpin the transactions of sweetpotato vines. These norms may undermine the emergence of commercially viable enterprises yet seem navigable for a substantial number of the DVMs. Group DVMs seem less commercially successful than individuals.