YAP Proposal #308: Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (Regis Umugiraneza, Rwanda)

RegisUmugiraneza2

Do you want to create a brighter future for the world? Why not invest in the good health of children with CARL Group! Children are the grassroots of tomorrow.

In 2014, a youth-led company, CARL GROUP made up of 4 young entrepreneurs (Clarisse Murekatete, 22 years old, Ada Irirashenono, 22 years old, Regis Umugiraneza, 25 years old and Larissa Uwase, 22 years old), represented by Umugiraneza Regis, 25 years old from Rwanda, had an idea of processing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes into Spaghetti .

I am Regis, and I grew up in an area where sweet potatoes are grown extensively in local areas. My country, Rwanda, was rated many times as one of the highest producers of sweet potatoes, growing approximately 80 kg per capita.

I grew up eating sweet potatoes daily prepared by my mother, and I didn’t like them, but my strict mother kept me going on that meal without much complaint. It was our daily meal from morning to evening, three times a day without tasting any other alternative dish. That pushed me to wonder if there is no other way sweet potatoes can be processed to create another variety from the same raw material that could at least provide us with another alternative dish to enjoy.

As I grew up life was getting better for our family to the point we could switch the meal and have alternative dishes, but I couldn’t forget the sweet potatoes that raised me and my neighborhood. That put me on a quest of finding out how an undervalued crop like sweet potatoes can be turned into a crop of unparalleled value that can be craved and eaten by everyone, instead of being considered food for the animals and for the poor families.

When I turned 12, I lost a best friend, and the community claimed that it was due to malnutrition. From that point on my dream was reinforced by the sorrow this loss caused me. I envisioned a big food-processing industry, basing its raw materials from what we grow locally, to help children who die every day from malnutrition when we have enough land to cultivate adequate crops.

Inspired by that dream, I studied Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics and took food science courses at university. In my research dissertation I conducted a study about orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, and in that research I conducted several interviews to understand the problems farmers of sweet potatoes face.

The results showed me that many have started to grow a new species of sweet potato called Orange-fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP), but they were not getting market for their products because it’s considered a rural crop and food for animals.

That led me to embark on extensive research about that species, and fortunately I found out its many advantages to combat malnutrition diseases and save lives.

Vitamin A deficiency contributes to a significant number of blindness diseases and premature deaths of young children. Young children and pregnant women or lactating women are particularly at risk of Vitamin A deficiency. Yet orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are a great source of energy and beta-carotene, which is converted into Vitamin A in the body.

For that reason, we want to change the image of sweet potatoes, which is currently considered of little value in our community. We will achieve that by adding value to it, transforming it into a variety of products that all different classes of people can enjoy. Then the community can benefit from the vitamin A residing in these accessible and cheap sweet potatoes.

I am currently 25 years old, and I officially launched CARL Group two years ago. The Group focuses on buying sweet potatoes from farmers in the areas of Ruhango, Muhanga, Rulindo and Gakenke and turns them into various processed products. Farmers can benefit from their own crops by getting a considerable market for their products, and also a variety of other products to enjoy from their sweet potato crop.

I currently partner with 4 cooperatives in different districts of the country. I have a team of 14 people in the company, and I anticipate tripling both the numbers of the team members and the sweet potatoes processed very soon.

We currently produce the following products from these sweet potatoes, which we call VIT-A products: Crisps, cakes, bread and sweet potato donuts (our most popular product). Soon we are launching a new kind of sweet potato pasta (spaghetti).

RegisUmugiranezaThis project was made possible by different funding sources, including the one awarded to us by the Ministry of Youth & ICT in Rwanda in a competition entitled “Youth Breaking the Cycle of Poverty”. We also marketed our products in a recent “MADE IN RWANDA” Expo, where our products passed across media, and the responses were very promising.

We found a welcoming audience, hungry to consume all our product varieties. They were interested in them, and encouraged the community to grow more sweet potatoes.

Our mission is to give value to sweet potatoes, and move them from being subsistence crops to cash crops. Our vision is to become a market leader of sweet potatoes in the East African region.

Although CARL Group is producing its product varieties for local consumption, it has already finalized the spaghetti research and envisions these products having a reach beyond the borders of Rwanda to an international market.

The current Total amount required to enhance this project is $5,000 USD.

Pasta Extruder Machine: $3,000 USD
Seed Multiplication: $1,000 USD
Marketing of sweet potato products: $800 USD
Packaging Development: $200 USD

Rwanda is one of the highest producers of sweet potatoes in Africa, with more than 80 kg per capita produced annually (CIP, 2013). Women are the main growers of sweet potatoes in Rwanda. Initially seen as a poor people’s crop, sweet potatoes gained acceptance with the introduction of new orange-fleshed sweet potato varieties that have higher yields and better taste than local varieties (CIP and RAB).

Beta-carotene-rich orange-fleshed sweet potato is one of a few new crops that are an excellent source of energy and important nutrient substances that can contribute to improve the nutrient status of communities.

Research shows that 43% of children under 5 years have malnutrition issues due to the lack of Vitamin A (World bank, 2014). By bringing a variety of products  containing vitamin A, and making them available at an affordable price for low income people, distributing them in diverse places in the country and sensitizing beneficiaries (mostly pregnant women and children), our  innovation will change lives and reduce malnutrition.

 

Blogpost and picture submitted by Regis Umugiraneza (Rwanda) – carlgroup.info[at]gmail.com

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #308 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

The first selection of the winners will be based on the number of comments, likes and views each proposal gets.

As a reader, you can support this speaker’s entry:

  • Leave a comment (question, suggestion,..) on this project in the comment field at the bottom of this page
  • Support the post by clicking the “Like” button below (only possible for those with a WordPress.com account)
  • Spread this post via your social media channels, using the hashtag: #GCARD3

 

Have a look at the other “YAP” proposals too!
As a donor, support young agripreneurs and sponsor this unique project. Check out the side column for our current sponsors.
“YAP” is part of the #GCARD3 process, the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.


335 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #308: Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (Regis Umugiraneza, Rwanda)

    1. I never thought I could eat potatoes not untill I tested it in a different form. I must admit these guys are rilly doing a great job in Rwanda

  1. Speechless… raise up raise up, even the sky wont be the limit…I cant imagine what Rwanda would be with many young innovative and thinkers like CARL people

  2. This is so inspiring. Its time for the world to know what a tremendous progress Rwandan youth has made. This is a living proof that if u persist and keep moving forward u can bring the change the world needs. REGIS UMUGIRANEZA u are such an inspiration!! Keep it up

  3. THIS IS SO INSPIRING! Regis your project deserves to be the best!! Be a voice of the voiceless

  4. Its so nice seeing such youth doing such great works?! Rwanda needs people like you Regis!

  5. wow Good! agripreneurs is needed to bring innovations to develop Rwandan Agriculture as well Africa.Keep it up

  6. Good luck Regis! There are many nutritional benefits of the Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Glad to see what you are achieving with the CARL Group team members to fight against the malnutrition in Rwanda. Keep up the good work!

  7. Keep it up young Ladies and gent, u are really a promising young ppl needed in African society…. I remember one day I tested ur spaghetti and donuts… Are very delicious.

  8. This a great ideas it’s inspired me,tthis can change life of many rural and urban at same time.thx for the CARL group

  9. That sounds great brother. Keep it up, I’m very interested in your project. Our community needs innovative people like you. Keep going on. I’d like to meet you When I’ll come back to Rwanda.

  10. That sounds really great my brother. Our community needs innovative people like you keep going on… I’d like to meet you when I’ll come back to Rwanda.

  11. Congratulations! This is a great idea and it will save lives of many! Rwanda needs innovative people like you.

  12. I was so impressed by the release of this delicious product. I love the perspective from which you identified the problem and came up with a solution too. keep up the good job CARL GROUP.

  13. Wow, what a great idea! I wish we ha many people like you, this is what we need in Africa, we need people who think how to use our local grown products and make something better and productive for the community, we don’t need always to look for jobs from the big corporations, we can make a big income just by exploiting what we already have! keep it up guys!!

  14. Ni byiza!!! Keep it up. But talking about consumers, not only those promising comments from TVs, social media,Expo,… How do people in need of your product(those with malnutrition,women,…) react? Will they buy and enjoy the product or they also dislike sweet potatoes and made of product and they prefer an alternative food also(because it was and it is their daily food)?

  15. big up to CARL Group,keep adding value to sweet potatoes,you are transforming ,modernizing Rwandan agriculture sector.

  16. it is pretty good, but my question is about safety and standards in the processing. how it is environment friendly?

  17. Woow! This is the complete definition of being innovative. You guys have a bright future ahead of you. We are standing right behind you.Keep it up!

  18. This is a good project that will bring value to rwandan crops and agricultural products.. It’s a voice for the voiceless farmers who get nothing from their hardwork

  19. Life is full of wonders, I am so excited about your products and would like to encourage you guys to keep shining not only that you are in this competition but also press foward with this product that I personally like.

    We are proud of you

  20. Proud of this guy.
    I went on the same school in secondary .
    At Byimana . I didn’t know how brilliant he was .

  21. That is great projet.

    agriculture is source of everything I mean food .if all Countries of Africa in Agriculture invest they can not be poor anymore …

  22. After reading where the idea of this guy , i realised that we must profit from the problem we face everyday . Well done Regis .

  23. Keep it up my dear friends, If most of the Rwandan youth could have an innovative mind like u do, Rwanda will be among the developed countries in the next generation.
    Actually, am a fan of yr products, they are so sweet….

  24. Congratulations dear friends……
    I wish more and more Rwanda Youth Could learn from you, so inspiring and innovative is yr project. Keep it up, not even the sky should be the limit 😉

  25. we need
    people who think how to use our
    local grown products and make
    something better and productive for
    the community, and Regis is one of them .

  26. wouwww nice project you guys keep it up. in our country we need people like you. we need vit A though your making spaghetti.

  27. I never thought of eating potatoes, not untill I came to taste them in different forms. I must admit you are doing q great job in Rwanda. God bless you all

  28. This group is awesome!very determined,hardworking,innovative and above all,they have very nice products.the sky is the limit!

  29. Keep it up. You’re doing an amazing job as young talents oriented towards business. You’re creativity is a tremendous gift to the community and society.

  30. I never thought of eating
    potatoes, not untill I
    came to taste them in
    different forms.
    Good work CARL group

  31. This is a living
    proof that if u persist
    and keep moving
    forward u can bring the
    change the world needs.
    REGIS UMUGIRANEZA u
    are such an inspiration!!
    Keep it up

  32. There are many
    nutritional benefits of the Orange-
    fleshed sweet potatoes. Glad to see
    what you are achieving with the
    CARL Group team members to fight
    against the malnutrition

  33. that’s what I call innovation! keep it up! you know, buy one step the journey begins! see you at the top!

  34. Wow …..!!!
    CARL group is doing great things
    This a great ideas it’s
    inspired me,tthis can
    change life of many rural
    and urban at same
    time

  35. Creating value for our
    good sweet potatoes is
    fine and Unique guys!
    Take courage and keep
    up your good work.

  36. Am in Southampton in the Uk, I think yo product are tasty. ..how will it reach the international market ??Is there any way they can be conserved??

  37. This is a living
    proof that if u persist
    and keep moving
    forward u can bring the
    change the world needs.
    REGIS UMUGIRANEZA u
    are such an inspiration

  38. This is a living
    proof that if u persist
    and keep moving
    forward u can bring the
    change the world needs.
    CARL Group u
    are such an inspiration

  39. Wao! congz to you guys,I am really happy and interested in your project. so keep it up the sky is the limit.

  40. Woow, this is very touching story! I think this is what Africa needs, why suffering while we have resources? Never give upon your dreams Regis, I hope we are going to enjoy made in Rwanda spaghetti soon!

  41. I have tasted on your products in made in Rwanda when I was in vacation and I took some to my friends in Italy,they really liked them but can’t find them. Continue to think big Carl Group,we will be happy to see your products here,especially the sweet pasta (spaghetti)

  42. You guys are doing great & you are inspiring youth to be creative instead of putting their hands in pocket. I do realy thank you very much!! Keep it up.

  43. ndishimye cyane kuba urubyiruko rusigaye rutinyuka kwihimbira ibintu nk’ibi byingirakamaro gutya kuri society!

  44. Wow! Nice idea and
    write up. This is what
    this country needs.
    Young insight-filled
    youths. .
    Best of luck dear

  45. Agricultural
    improvement, National
    development, healthy
    eating, employability all
    in one plan. This is pure
    excellence. I’m proud of
    u CARL group !

  46. I have tasted on your products in made in Rwanda when I was in vacation and I took some to my friends in Italy,they really liked them but can’t find them. Continue to think big Carl Group,we will be happy to see your products here,especially the sweet pasta (spaghetti)

  47. Nice write-up, I wish you
    success in your research
    work and pray your
    dreams in this field do
    come to a reality. God
    bless you.

  48. Lovely and realistic idea. This is the
    way to go for young people,
    sustainable and affordable food
    options

  49. This is a great
    innovation. This will help
    in value addition and
    increase incomes to the
    farmers, create
    employment to other
    youths thus reducing on
    the poverty levels.

  50. where does real independence come from ?? in home grown solutions like this one. keep it up guys. potatoes will save us.

  51. With these existing human beings, we are to survive for many years. Dear ones, you’re such encouraging people in transforming the youths of today, I tested it too. How delicious it is! Very nice and more. CARL group of company. “Love to make us live”

  52. guys, everyone started small, maybe you are the next MacDo or coca cola, who knows? just never give up, the future is awaiting for you! Africa needs people like you!

  53. Wow…this inspiring Rwandan Youth.
    Keep going to -Clarisse Murekatete, Ada Irirashenono, Regis Umugiraneza,and Larissa Uwase(CARL GROUP),…

    we always need innovation of young people like u.
    Keep always prove that you are hard worker and creater.

  54. that’s sounds really nice. the idea is good. I like that entrepreneurial minds. Good luck!

  55. thats very nice project. As of now in Tanzania, rainfall is very low in many places indicating that 2017 will be year of hunger never seen before. I believe these sweet potatoes can help us fight back malnutrition.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s